FACT CHECK: Did James Madison Say, ‘Cursed Be All That Learning That Is Contrary To The Cross Of Christ’?
A post shared on Facebook claims that statesman James Madison said, “Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.”
Madison did not author this quote. It may be a paraphrase of a statement by Presbyterian minister John Witherspoon.
His writings give little indication as to his views on religious doctrine, leading to scholarly debate about his religious convictions. According to some historians, Madison was a Deist, rather than a conventional Christian as the misattributed quote would suggest.
Though he persistently advocated for religious freedom, Madison did not author the quote attributed to him in the Facebook post. The statement appears nowhere in his collected works. “It certainly doesn’t sound like anything Madison would say, and indeed sounds like something he would staunchly disavow,” Terence Ball, professor emeritus and Madison expert at Arizona State University, told The Daily Caller.
The quote may be a paraphrase of a similar statement: “Accursed be all that learning which sets itself in opposition to the cross of Christ!” This statement was made in a sermon by Witherspoon, the one-time president of the College of New Jersey, which would later become Princeton University.
The quote has also been attributed to Jonathan Dickinson, the College of New Jersey’s first president. However, we couldn’t locate any source contemporary to Dickinson crediting him with the quote. Historian Bryan Lebeau told the Caller that he could find no record of Dickinson making this statement.
Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected].