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MonkeyNotes-The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
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FRANKLIN'S VIEWS ABOUT RELIGION

In this section, Franklin discusses his religion. Although he no longer attends public religious meetings, he believes in God and his creation. In addition, he believes that serving humankind and doing good for a fellow man are the best services offered to God. He also believes in the immortality of soul, that bad will be punished and good will be rewarded. Franklin observes that almost all religions preach principles similar to his, but they often teach certain doctrines that do not inspire morality and bring indifference or hostility among people. For this reason, he has little respect for organized religions. However, he takes great care in avoiding any discussion that may hurt an individual's respect for his own religion.

As Pennsylvania increases in size, there is a need for more religious places. Building funds are always being collected and Franklin is always willing to make a contribution. He also continues to pay his annual subscription for the support of the only Presbyterian Minister in Philadelphia. This minister finally persuades Franklin to attend the Sunday meetings at his church. Though it causes an interruption to Franklin's reading, he attends church for five consecutive Sundays, expecting some morals and principles to be taught through the preaching. The Minister's teachings, however, are comprised of religious arguments and explications of doctrines and are very boring. After this, Franklin completely avoids attending church. Franklin mentions a form of prayer that he has composed during the year of 1728, entitled 'Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion.'

Notes

This section gives a glimpse into Franklin's personal beliefs. His attitudes about religion prove his liberal interpretations. He believes in God and his creation; he also believes in prayer, but he feels organized religions are stifling and hung up on their own doctrines. Franklin believes in the equality of men and respects their rights and freedom to choose their own beliefs. He avoids religious discussions, for he does not want to negatively influence anyone of faith. He also feels a responsibility towards organized religion, for he pays a subscription for the support of the Presbyterian minister and he contributes to the building funds of different churches.

For Franklin, religion is not attending church on Sundays. It is a form of expression and a way of life, never reduced to a mere sermon or a memorized prayer. Franklin's true religion is his service to his fellow man. He feels that he can best serve God by serving mankind. His own composition of a prayer asserts his depth and individuality of faith.

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