William Sloane Coffin

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William Sloane Coffin (June 1, 1924April 12, 2006) was an American Christian clergyman and long-time peace activist. He was ordained in the Presbyterian church and later received ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ.

Quotes[edit]

  • "It is often said that the Church is a crutch. Of course it's a crutch. What makes you think you don't limp?" -- [1]
  • "People who fear disorder more than injustice will only produce more of both."
  • "Hope is a state of mind independent of the state of the world. If your heart's full of hope, you can be persistent when you can't be optimistic. You can keep the faith despite the evidence, knowing that only in so doing has the evidence any chance of changing. So while I'm not optimistic, I'm always very hopeful." Quoted in his NPR obituary
  • "In our time all it takes for evil to flourish is for a few good men to be a little wrong and have a great deal of power, and for the vast majority of their fellow citizens to remain indifferent." — In the Yale Alumni magazine in 1967.
  • The U.S. government should have vowed "...to see justice done, but by the force of law only, never by the law of force." — After September 11, 2001.
  • "We yearned for a revolution of imagination and compassion that would oppose the very aggressiveness and antagonism that characterized the actions of both Nixon and the Weathermen. We were convinced nonviolence was more revolutionary than violence" — referring to the organizers of the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam.
  • "Without love, violence will change the world; it will change it into a more violent one." — June 1968.
  • "It's too bad that one has to conceive of sports as being the only arena where risks are, [for] all of life is risk exercise. That's the only way to live more freely, and more interestingly."
  • "The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love."
  • "What we and other nuclear powers are practicing is really nuclear apartheid. A handful of nations have arrogated to themselves the right to build, deploy, and threaten to use nuclear weapons while policing the rest of the world against their production. . . . Nuclear apartheid is utopian and arrogant. It is a recipe for proliferation, a policy of disaster."
  • "Every nation makes decisions based on self-interest and defends them on the basis of morality." — to the Yale Class of 1968 35th reunion, May 2003.
  • "Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat."
  • "For Christians, the problem is not how to reconcile homosexuality with scriptural passages that condemn it, but how to reconcile the rejection and punishment of homosexuals with the love of Christ." - An Open Letter from Rev. William Sloane Coffin to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops 2000.
  • "By abolishing slavery and ordaining women, millions of Protestants have gone far beyond biblical literalism. It's time we did the same for homophobia."
  • "Many of us are eager to respond to injustice, as long as we can do so without having to confront the causes of it. There's the great pitfall of charity. Handouts to needy individuals are genuine, necessary responses to injustice, but they do not necessarily face the reason for injustice. And that is why so many business and governmental leaders today are promoting charity; it is desperately needed in an economy whose prosperity is based on growing inequality. First these leaders proclaim themselves experts on matters economic, and prove it by taking the most out of the economy! Then they promote charity as if it were the work of the church, finally telling us troubled clergy to shut up and bless the economy as once we blessed the battleships." - as quoted by Rev. Scotty McLennan.
  • "To be avoided at all costs is the solace of opinion without the pain of thought."
  • "I love the recklessness of faith. First you leap and then you grow wings" - Credo by William Sloane Coffin.
  • "Of God's love we can say two things: it is poured out universally for everyone from the Pope to the loneliest wino on the planet; and secondly, God's love doesn't seek value, it creates value. It is not because we have value that we are loved, but because we are loved that we have value. Our value is a gift, not an achievement." - Credo