The religious attitudes of Mark Twain



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Man must maintain an open mind in his search for vital and meaningful religious truths. Preoccupation with traditional theology brought about the division of virtuous men into hundreds of hostile sectarian camps. Twain, who was not an atheist although he was radical in his personal religious attitudes and beliefs, could find no reason why all those who share a belief in such basic values as those of love, high ethics, freedom, integrity, and truth should not join together as members of a universal religion based on realism and freed from antiquated practices and beliefs. Far from being misanthropic, Twain sought throughout his lifetime to improve the human condition by provoking men to discard false values and conventional faith and look, not to institutions, but to themselves and their intuition for ethical principles and virtuous guidelines. He tried to promote betterment by creating an awareness of societal and religious oppression, sham, superstition, and hypocrisy.