A line written by Thomas Paine
in his political work Rights of Man
(not Age of Reason
, as many people believe). It's often quoted in a somewhat different form, as, "The world is my country, and to do good is my religion"; possibly because Robert Ingersoll
quoted it that way (probably without checking the source), but it could have simply become popularized that way because, frankly, it sounds better.
"My country is the world..."
Paine indeed seemed to see himself as a 'citizen
of the world'. He argued against the slavery
s in America
on purely moral
(rather than religious
) grounds; though whether he believed in racial equality
is a matter open for debate. When the French Revolution
broke out, Paine became a vocal supporter of it, and even became a representative
in the National Assembly
. Despite this, Paine was not a zealot
of the revolutionary movement; he even argued unpopularly against the execution
of the royalty, which landed him in the Bastille
and nearly caused his own execution at Robespierre's
command. Paine was certainly one who believe that one's obligation was to humanity
before any nation.
"...and my religion is to do good."
Paine was a Deist; meaning that while he believed in an Infinite Being who created the universe, he did not believe that this Creator intervened on behalf of humans or otherwise suspended the laws of Nature. Moreover, to Paine's way of thinking, there is no reason to believe that this God pays any attention to any of the insignifcant goings-on in our universe. Thus Paine believed that rather than worshipping in the usual manner, the highest tribute one could pay to God was to keep the world as good as possible.