Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

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Katharine Hepburn

Katharine Hepburn

On this date in 1907, Katharine Houghton Hepburn was born in Hartford, Conn., the daughter of a progressive physician and a suffragist/birth control advocate. The legendary tomboy, independent thinker and athlete graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1928 with degrees in history and philosophy. She went on to become a celebrated actress (surviving a critic's comment that she was "box office poison") and 4-time Oscar winner. Her string of movies include: "Bill of Divorcement" (1932), "Christopher Strong" (1933), "Little Women" (1933), "Morning Glory" (1933), "Spitfire" (1934), "Alice Adams" (1935), "Sylvia Scarlett" (1935), "A Woman Rebels" (1936), "Stage Door" (1937), "Bringing Up Baby" (1938), "The Philadelphia Story" (1940), "Woman of the Year" (1942), "Adam's Rib" (1949), "Pat and Mike" (1952), "Desk Set" (1957), "Suddenly, Last Summer" (1959), "Long Day's Journey into Night" (1962), "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967), "Lion in Winter" (1968), and "On Golden Pond" (1981). Perhaps her signature role was in "The African Queen" (1951). Hepburn routinely defied Hollywood convention, and wore her trademark slouchy slacks everywhere. She wrote about her freethought views in her autobiography, Me (1991), and spoke about her atheism and other unconventional views in interviews. D. 2003.

“I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for each other.”

—Katharine Hepburn, Ladies Home Journal, Oct. 1991

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

George Carlin

George Carlin

On this date in 1937, George Carlin was born in Manhattan to an Irish Catholic family. The salty stand-up comedian has received two Grammys, for "Fm & Am" (1972) and "Jammin' " (1993). He was arrested for disorderly conduct in Milwaukee in 1972 for performing "Seven Dirty Words You Can't Say on Radio or Television." A case about his right to perform this show on the radio went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Carlin was the first host of "Saturday Night Live" (1975), and has appeared in 11 HBO specials since 1977. Typical quips: "When evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve." "If churches want to play the game of politics, let them pay admission like everyone else." "I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death." Carlin inspired the Freedom From Religion Foundation's "Emperor Has No Clothes Award," honoring public figures who "tell it like it is" about religion. D. 2008.

“ . . . this experiment, this magnificent experiment in democracy is just being shredded to pieces by these right-wing Christians, the Ashcroft branch of Republicanism. (They're) just shredding the rest of the Bill of Rights which hadn't been shredded already.”

—George Carlin, interview in Idaho Statesman, Jan. 24, 2004

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

On this date in 1820, Florence Nightingale was born in England. Refusing to conform to the limited expectations for women of her class, Florence entered hospital work. She was appointed Superintendent of a Hospital for Invalid Gentlewomen in London in 1853. To award her for two years of diligent organization in caring for the wounded during the Crimean War, her government offered 50,000 pounds for a Nightingale School for Nurses. Nightingale was the first woman to receive the Order of Merit, among many other honors. British freethought encyclopedist Joseph McCabe identified her as a nonChristian theist, rejecting rites and ceremonies or any denominational claims. Nightingale wrote about her rejection of many religious claims in Fraser's Magazine (May and July 1873). D. 1910.

“The Church is now more like the Scribes and Pharisees than like Christ . . . What are now called the 'essential doctrines' of the Christian religion he does not even mention.”
"

—Florence Nightingale, 1896 letter, quoted by Sir Edward Cook, Life of Florence Nightingale (1913)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

On this date in 1828, Dante Gabriel Rossetti was born in England, the son of an exiled Italian patriot. Educated at King's College London and a drawing academy, Dante was both a well-known poet and painter, and became part of the Pre-Raphaelite movement (made up largely of freethinking artists). Rossetti's sister was the poet Christina Rossetti. His early paintings, which were in oil and often with religious themes, were immediate hits, although some critics felt his poetry was his artistic forte. Rossetti turned to watercolors and themes inspired by his namesake Dante (whom Rossetti translated into English) and medieval themes in keeping with the Pre-Raphaelites. A favorite model was his short-lived tubercular wife Elizabeth Siddal, whose auburn hair and pure looks he immortalized. His sister Christina also posed for him. Although Rossetti was not considered scientifically inclined and went through different phases, he was not religious. D. 1882.

“[I am ] a decided sceptic. . . . professed no religious faith and practised no regular religious observances.”
"

—Dante Rossetti, memoir prefixed to his Works, i, 114, 1911

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? "Freethought of the Day" is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

If you would like to be placed on the "Daily Freethought" e-mail list to automatically receive the calendar notice, log in and edit your email settings (My Membership). Or, email  and include your first and last name with your request for verification purposes. This email service is limited to members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation or subscribers to Freethought Today. To become an FFRF member, click here.


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