His ideas about religion and its impact on social institutions and citizens, Thomas Paine expressed in the book The Age of Reason. The core of his teaching is deism and personal religion: “My own mind is my own church” (Paine 13).
Thomas was born in Thetford on January 29, 1737. His parents lived in the small house on White Hart Street. A photograph of this cottage exists, but the building was torn down in the 1880's. In its place there stands a pretty garden and a fountain. The house had four or five rooms, one of which on the street level was used by Joseph as a shop. His father, Joseph Paine was a commonplace person (Kaye 72). He is described as placid and pious, industrious and poor (Kaye 74). In religious belief and practice he was a Quaker. He lived ten years in France, from 1792 to 1802, took part in the French Revolution and met thousands of Frenchmen, yet he never learned enough French to make a speech in that language, or to say anything at all except the few sentences that were needed in ordering food and commenting on the weather (Great Theosophists: Thomas Paine n.d.).
In 1750, he was taken from school to be taught the trade of staymaking. It was a handicraft that required a fairly long apprenticeship. One had to learn the qualities of various fabrics, such as silk, linen and calico. Cutting the cloth was an operation that called for skill, for each pair of stays was an individual product. Tape measurements of the customer were made in the first place, and a pattern was laid out (Kaye 23). After nearly five years in his father's shop Tom Paine ran away. In 1756, he went away again and joined the privateer King of Prussia, commanded by a Captain Mendez. Paine would never say anything about it, but his attitude in respect to this particular exploit is not at all remarkable. He was as reticent about it as about everything that concerned his personal life. On March 26, 1771, he married Elizabeth Ollive. He was then thirty-four and she was ten years younger (Kaye 24).
During 1770s, Paine played an active role in the political life of England: he joined officers in Parliament and published his first political article The Case of the Officers of Excise. In 1774, Paine came to America and devoted himself to the revolutionary cause. The most important fact is that Paine was the first author who wrote for the whole American public. During the first six months after its publication about one hundred thousand copies of Common Sense were sold (Larkin 29).
His religious ideas and vision of an ideal society Paine expressed in the Agee of Reason. This work consists of three parts appeared in 1794, 1795 and 1807. The first part of the book was written when he was in good health, and without the aid of a Bible; it was meant to shock men into thinking, but compared to the second part it is a model of restraint. It was dedicated to "my Fellow Citizens of the United States," though he was evidently dubious of their enthusiasm for it" (Paine 45). Paine never overlooks an opportunity to humble aristocratic arrogance. He called men to practice the moral virtues, and the belief of one God Larkin 29). Excepting the violent Fundamentalists, no religious person would today be inflamed by reading it. It is ludicrous to suppose that a man of Paine's intense temperament would indulge in flippancy on the brink of eternity (Great Theosophists: Thomas Paine n.d.). The ink had barely dried on his work when the long-expected happened;