the nearer the church, the farther from God
1303 R. BRUNNE Handlyng Synne (EETS) 1. 9242 Tharfor men seys, an weyl ys trowed [believed], ‘the nere the cherche, the fyrther fro God.’
1620 T. SHELTON tr. Cervantes’ Don Quixote II. xlvii. Eat nothing of all this meat..for this dinner was presented by Nunnes, and it is an olde saying, The neerer the Church, the farther from God.
1879 J. E. HOPKINS Work amongst Working Men i. I fear it was a practical comment on the truth of the uncomfortable proverb, ‘The nearer the church, the farther from God,’ that so bad a district should adjoin one of the great headquarters of the church.
1957 R. GRAVES They hanged my Saintly Billy ii. ‘The nearer the church, the farther from God,’ is a proverb of doubtful truth. But true it is that William Palmer, as a child, had two churches frowning down on him.
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