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: Martin Luther King Jr Federal Holiday , Bill Maher and Fred Whitehead

Martin Luther King Jr Federal Holiday

Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Bill Maher

Bill Maher

On this date in 1956, comedian, television personality, author and freethought advocate William Maher Jr. was born in New York City to a Jewish mother and Catholic father. He was raised in River Vale, N.J., and attended Cornell University. Maher started his stand-up comedy career in 1979, and still performs at least 50 gigs a year in Las Vegas and across the country. The 22-time Emmy-nominated comedian came to prominence with his Comedy Central and then ABC show "Politically Incorrect" (1993-2002). He now hosts the immensely popular "Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO (begun in 2003). He has authored four bestsellers, including True Story (2005), Does Anybody Have a Problem with That? Politically Incorrect's Greatest Hits (1997), When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Bin Laden (2002) and New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer (2006). Maher has starred in nine stand-up comedy specials for HBO, including the Emmy-nominated "The Decider" (2007) and "I'm Swiss" (2005). Maher is number 38 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 greatest stand-up comedians of all time.

Maher's comedy often throws comedic punches at organized religion. "Religulous" (2008), which is the seventh-highest grossing documentary of all time, features Maher interviewing believers from different faiths, which generates many laughs, and concludes with a more serious warning on the danger of religion. He said on "Real Time," on Feb. 17, 2006: "New rule: If churches don't have to pay taxes, they also can't call the fire department when they catch fire. Sorry reverend, that's one of those services that goes along with paying in. I'll use the fire department I pay for. You can pray for rain." He said in April 2008: "If you have a few hundred followers and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If you have a billion, they call you Pope" ("Real Time"). He told Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show": "I hate religion. I think it's a neurological disorder" (April 24, 2004). 

"When I hear from people that religion doesn't hurt anything, I say, really? Well besides wars, the Crusades, the Inquisitions, 9-11, ethnic cleansing, the suppression of women, the suppression of homosexuals, fatwas, honor killings, suicide bombings, arranged marriages to minors, human sacrifice, burning witches, and systematic sex with children, I have a few little quibbles. And I forgot blowing up girl schools in Afghanistan."

—Bill Maher, in an interview with Don Imus on Fox, Nov. 1, 2009

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Fred Whitehead

Fred Whitehead

On this date in 1944, Fred Whitehead was born in Pratt, Kansas. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1965 and earned his Ph.D. in English from Columbia University in 1972. Whitehead is an editor and freethought historian who edits the quarterly newsletter Freethought History, which describes the history of atheism and freethought. He writes articles for publications including Free Inquiry. Whitehead edited Freethought on the American Frontier (1992), a collection of essays from early freethinkers of the American West, with Verle Murher. Whitehead and Murher wrote: “From the earliest days of colonization, there has been a struggle between Christianity and freethinkers on this continent.” In 1989, Whitehead was given an Award for Exceptional Service by the Kansas Writers Association.

“Far from being marginalized, as is presently the case, nineteenth-century freethought was a social movement at the core of our national life.”

—Freethought on the American Frontier, Fred Whitehead and Verle Murher, 1992.

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.

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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