William Sloane Coffin, Jr.

William Sloane
Coffin, Jr.

American Liberal Presbyterian Christian Clergyman, Peace Activist, CIA Agent, Chaplain of Yale University, Senior Minister at Riverside Church in NYC, President of SANE/Freez (now Peace Action)

Author Quotes

People who fear disorder more than injustice will only produce more of both.

The war against Iraq is as disastrous as it is unnecessary; perhaps in terms of its wisdom, purpose and motives, the worst war in American history... Our military men and women...were not called to defend America but rather to attack Iraq. They were not called to die for, but rather to kill for, their country. What more unpatriotic thing could we have asked of our sons and daughters?

But as regards love, I am sure the Bible is right: the opposite of love is not hate but fear. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

God loves you the way you are, but he knows you can do better.

In life you can either follow your fears or be led by your values, by your passions.

Learning, and especially unlearning, can take place only in the absence of defensiveness.... We can drop our defenses only when we love and are loved.

Prophets from Amos and Isaiah to Gandhi and King have shown how frequently compassion demands confrontation. Love without criticism is a kind of betrayal. Lying is done with silence as well as with words.

The woman most in need of liberation is the woman in every man and the man in every woman.

But if we hate evil more than we love the good, we become damn good haters.

God provides minimum protection, maximum support -- support to help us grow up, to stretch our minds and hearts until they are as wide as God's universe.

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.

Love does have a reward. Just as the proper benefits of education are the opportunities of continuing education, so the rewards of loving are to become yet more vulnerable, more tender, more caring.

Remember also that scars of all sorts are all right. Scars are wounds that have healed, not without a trace, but have healed nonetheless. Think of all the scar tissue around Christ's heart, Jesus our wounded healer.

The world owes me a living'--that's passive. 'I owe the world and God a life'--that's active.

But what I am beginning to suspect is that most guilty people reject the possibility of forgiveness not because it is too good to believe, but because they fear the responsibility forgiveness entails. It's hell to be guilty, but it?s worse to be responsible.

God's love doesn't seek value; it creates it. It's not because we have value that we are loved, but because we're loved that we have value. So you don't have to prove yourself -- ever. That's taken care of.

In reality, there are no biblical literalists, only selective literalists. By abolishing slavery and ordaining women, millions of Protestants have gone far beyond biblical literalism. It's time we did the same for homophobia.

Love is in the giver, not the gift.

So don't let money tell you who you are. Don't let power tell you who your are. Don't let enemies and -- for God's sake -- don't let your sins tell you who you are. Don't prove yourself. That's taken care of. All we have to do is express ourselves. It's difficult, but we're a lot more alive in pain than in complacency.

There are three kinds of patriots, two bad, one good. The bad ones are the uncritical lovers and the loveless critics. Good patriots carry on a lover's quarrel with their country, a reflection of God's lover's quarrel with all the world.

The world is too dangerous for anything but truth and too small for anything but love. We can never really love anybody with whom we never laugh. Love is in the giver, not the gift. He told me that once he forgot himself and opened up like a door with a loose latch and everything fell out and he tried for days to put it all back in the proper order, but he finally gave up and left if there in a pile and loved everything equally.

When we live at each other’s mercy, we had better learn to be merciful.

The goal of... life is not to save your soul but to transcend yourself, to vindicate the human struggle of which all of us are a part, to keep hope advancing.

Hope arouses, as nothing else can arouse, a passion for the possible.

Author Picture
First Name
William Sloane
Last Name
Coffin, Jr.
Birth Date
Death Date

American Liberal Presbyterian Christian Clergyman, Peace Activist, CIA Agent, Chaplain of Yale University, Senior Minister at Riverside Church in NYC, President of SANE/Freez (now Peace Action)