By Bryan Caplan
[I]t seems to me sheer vanity for any man to hold his religious views too firmly,
or to submit to any inconvenience on account of them. It is far better, if they
happen to offend, to conceal them discreetly, or to change them amiably as the
delusions of the majority change. My own views in this department, being wholly
skeptical and tolerant, are obnoxious to the subscribers to practically all
other views; even atheists sometimes denounce me. At the moment, by an accident
of American political history, these dissenters from my theology are forbidden
to punish me for not agreeing with them. But at any succeeding moment some
group or other among them may seize such power and proceed against me in the
immemorial manner. If it ever happens, I give notice here and now that I shall
get converted to their nonsense instantly, and so retire to safety with my
right thumb laid against my nose and my fingers waving like wheat in the wind.
I’d do it even to-day, if there were any practical advantage in it. Offer me a
case of Rauenthaler 1903, and I engage to submit to baptism by any rite ever
heard of, provided it does not expose my gothic nakedness. Make it ten cases,
and I’ll agree to be both baptized and confirmed. In such matters I am broad-minded.
What, after all, is one more lie?
Notice: In a sense, Mencken’s candor precludes him from undiluted appeasement. If he ever recanted this essay in the face of persecution, he would be entirely true to its theme. Fortunately, most persecutors are too illogical to grasp the absurdity.
HT: The excellent Shanu Athiparambath