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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There are 3 entries for this date: Javed Akhtar , Benjamin Franklin and Sean Danielsen
Javed Akhtar

Javed Akhtar

On this date in 1945, Javed Akhtar (né Jadoo Akhtar) was born in Gwalior, India. His father was an Urdu poet and Bollywood songwriter, and his mother was a teacher and writer. Akhtar earned a bachelor’s degree from Saifia College in Bhopal, India. He moved to Mumbai in 1964, where he worked as a scriptwriter. In the 1980s he focused on writing lyrics for films. He has since written lyrics for over 70 films. Akhtar won the Silver Lotus Award for Best Lyrics from the National Film Awards in India three times, for “Godmother” (1999), “Refugee” (2000) and “Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India” (2001). He won International Film Academy of India awards for best lyrics for “Refugee” (2000), “Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India” (2001), “Kal Ho Naa Ho” (2003), “Swades” (2004) and “Om Shanti Om” (2007). In 2001, he was awarded the National Integration Award from the All-India Anti-Terrorist Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Asian Academy of Film and Television. Akhtar has two children with his first wife. He is married to actress Shabana Azmi. Muslims “have to improve their lot by lending strength to secular forces and by becoming more and more secular themselves,” he said in an interview with Lalita Panicker (Times of India, “Questions and Answers,” March 28, 2002). “Arms, drugs and spirituality – these are the three big businesses in the world. . . . spirituality nowadays is definitely the tranquilizer of the rich” (speech at India Today Conclave, Feb. 26, 2005).

“I am an atheist, I have no religious beliefs. And obviously I don’t believe in spirituality of some kind.”

—Javed Akhtar in a speech at India Today Conclave called “Spirituality: Halo or Hoax?” Feb. 26, 2005

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

On this date in 1706, Benjamin Franklin was born. The Boston-born printer, publisher, inventor, author, aphorist and statesman quit the Presbyterian Church in 1734, according to his Autobiography. Franklin was a Deist in the mode of the Enlightenment, retaining only a belief in a god and future life. After the Constitutional Convention of 1787 had been underway for a month, the octogenarian Franklin suggested that the so-far secular convention conduct a prayer. Records show that Franklin's proposal created polite embarrassment, and that the convention adjourned without any vote on the motion. Franklin was part of a distinguished committee, including Adams and Jefferson, which adopted the United States' secular motto, "E Pluribus Unum" (From many, [come] one). At one point, the pragmatic Franklin suggested currency contain the phrase "Mind your business." D. 1790.

“When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”

—Benjamin Franklin, Works, Vol. XIII, p. 506

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Sean Danielsen

Sean Danielsen

On this date in 1982, Sean Danielsen was born in California. He began performing as lead guitarist and vocalist with Smile Empty Soul, an alternative rock band affiliated with Lava Records, in 1998, when he was still a high school student. Danielsen is the band’s primary songwriter. Smile Empty Soul released their popular self-titled album in 2003. Their other albums include “Anxiety” (2005), “Vultures” (2006), and “Consciousness” (2009). Their song “Who I Am” appeared on the “Spiderman 2” (2004) soundtrack.

Smile Empty Soul is a decidedly freethought band. “Religion is just such a big bad part of my life that it’s going to come out [in my music],” Danielsen explained to journalist Jeff Nall, who wrote about Smile Empty Soul, Bad Religion and Ani DiFranco for the October 2004 issue of Freethought Today. The song “Every Sunday” on their first album, “Smile Empty Soul” (2003), contains the lyrics, “I don’t want your religions,” and the video for their song “Nowhere Kids” tackles the issue of sexual abuse by priests. Danielsen’s devoutly religious mother sent him to live at a Christian commune in an abandoned summer camp in Maine for three years, beginning when he was only seven. “My mom lets religion rule her life and I feel religion is a kind of safety blanket. If you’re afraid, you cling onto religion, and I just don’t want to be like that,” Danielsen said in a June 25, 2003 interview with MTV. His mother still has trouble accepting his nonreligious beliefs. In an Oct. 1, 2003 interview with lasvegascitylife.com, Danielsen said that his mother “was blown away by how much the album attacks her beliefs. She just couldn’t understand it at first. I just had to explain to her that this is how I believe, that I have a whole different set than hers and this is how I deal with them.”

“I’m definitely against all organized religion just because, when you really look at it, organized religion has caused most of the deaths in the history of this planet. Most of the wars were fought over organized religion.” 

—Sean Danielsen to journalist Jeff Nall, quoted in Freethought Today, October 2004

Compiled by Sabrina 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.

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