By harshly attacking Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura for his widely publicized criticisms of religion, some politicians and members of the media applied a double standard and treated him unfairly.

Ventura said, “Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.” Many famous people have been equally critical of religion, but politicians and the media idolize them.

Albert Einstein was named Time magazine’s Person of the Twentieth Century. He said: “I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation. . . . Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.”

Charles Darwin is widely considered one of the greatest persons of the nineteenth century. He stated: “I can hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.”

Sigmund Freud maintained, “Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis.” He also said, “Neither in my private life, nor in my writings, have I ever made a secret of being an out-and-out unbeliever.” As for preventing and treating the psychological harms of religion, Dr. Freud’s prescription was clear: “When a man is freed of religion, he has a better chance to live a normal and wholesome life.”

Thomas Edison asserted: “So far as the religion of the day is concerned, it is a damned fake. . . . Religion is all bunk. . . . All bibles are man-made.” H. L. Mencken commented, “I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind.”

Clarence Darrow explained, “I don’t believe in God, because I don’t believe in Mother Goose.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton related: “The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstitions of the Christian religion.”

Numerous other examples could be given. They show that highly intelligent and morally exemplary persons can hold quite negative views of religion, such as those expressed by Ventura.

As John Stuart Mill wrote in his famous essay “On Liberty”: “A large proportion of the noblest and most valuable teaching has been the work, not only of men who did not know, but of men who knew and rejected the Christian faith.”

Mill also stated: “The world would be astonished if it knew how great a proportion of its brightest ornaments, of those most distinguished even in popular estimation for wisdom and virtue, are complete skeptics in religion.”

The founders of the U.S. were aware of those facts. It’s a reason that in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, they prohibited religious tests for public office.