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I've been haunted by a quote from my teenage years that goes something like,

"I’m not a believer, but I prefer my barber to be a Christian, even more when he’s using his razor on my neck."

It was attributed to a French Enlightenment figure, possibly Voltaire. I don't remembered who told me that, or where I read it. It's just stuck in the back of my mind and I would like to know it's origins.

Despite my efforts, Google hasn't yielded any results

Do you know the origin of this phrase? Is it really something Voltaire said? Do you know about any other philosopher who said something similar?

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  • I can't find any quotes about barbers and theism connected with Voltaire at all. Are you able to provide a more exact quote?
    – Matt Thrower
    Jan 25 at 17:07
  • @MattThrower unfortunately I don't have more information about the quote. I heard/read it at some point a lot of years ago, and I haven't been able to find it's origins. I don't even know if it was Voltaire who said it.
    – alexmolas
    Jan 25 at 19:44

2 Answers 2

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I think I've found it!

I want my lawyer, my tailor, my servants, even my wife to believe in God, because it means that I shall be cheated and robbed and cuckolded less often. … If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him

From Sur des choses curieuses, by Voltaire.

It doesn't say nothing about a barber, but I'm pretty sure this is the quote I was looking for.

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  • Good find! Can you include the exact source/reference for the quote?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 27 at 15:00
  • "Je veux que mon procureur, mon tailleur, mes valets, ma femme même, croient en Dieu; et j'imagine que j'en serai moins volé et moins cocu." Apparently from Sur des choses curieuses, by Voltaire.
    – Peter Shor
    Jan 27 at 17:31
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    My translation: "I want my attorney, my tailor, my servants, even my wife, to believe in God; and I suspect that I will thus be robbed less and cuckolded less."
    – Peter Shor
    Jan 27 at 17:31
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Perhaps you are remembering this quote that en.Wikiquote says was misattributed to Voltaire

“There is no God, but don't tell that to my servant, lest he murder me at night”.
False quote, misattributed to Voltaire by Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2011)

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  • I like this quote, and the meaning is quite similar to the one I remember. However, I recall the phrase saying something about a barber. But maybe the person who told me the phrase misquoted Yuval's phrase and I've been fooled for the last 15 years :)
    – alexmolas
    Jan 26 at 8:43
  • @alexmolas This sounds like the kind of quip that multiple people might invent independently, so this was just a guess that I'll had. We'll have to search further, especially as it probably wasn't Voltaire who said it.
    – b_jonas
    Jan 26 at 11:12

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