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 of Africans 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.

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