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 2 entries for this date: George Eliot and Rodney Dangerfield
George Eliot

George Eliot

On this date in 1819, novelist George Eliot (nee Mary Ann Evans), was born at a farmstead in Derbyshire, England, where her father was estate manager. Mary Ann, the youngest child and a favorite of her father's, received a good education for a young woman of her day. Influenced by a favorite governess, she became a religious evangelical as an adolescent. Her first published work was a religious poem. Through a family friend, she was exposed to Charles Hennell's An Inquiry into the Origins of Christianity. Unable to believe, she conscientiously gave up religion and stopped attending church. Her father shunned her, sending the broken-hearted young dependent to live with a sister until she promised to reexamine her feelings. Her intellectual views did not, however, change. She translated Strauss' Das Leben Jesu, a monumental task, without signing her name to the 1846 work. After her father's death in 1849, Mary Ann traveled, then accepted an unpaid position with The Westminister Review. Despite a heavy work load, she translated Feuerbach's The Essence of Christianity, the only book ever published under her real name. That year, the shy, respectable writer scandalized British society by sending notices to friends announcing she had entered a free "union" with George Henry Lewes, editor of The Leader, who was unable to divorce his first wife. They lived harmoniously together for the next 24 years, but suffered social ostracism and financial hardship. She became salaried and began writing essays and reviews for The Westminister Review (see quote). Renaming herself "Marian" in private life and adopting the nom de plume "George Eliot," she began her impressive fiction career, including: Scenes of Clerical Life (1857), Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Romola (1863), and Middlemarch (1871). Themes included her humanist vision and strong heroines. Her poem, "O May I Join the Choir Invisible" expressed her views about nonsupernatural immortality: "O may I join the choir invisible/ Of those immortal dead who live again/ In minds made better by their presence. . ." D. 1880.

“The clergy are, practically, the most irresponsible of all talkers.”

—George Eliot, "Evangelical Teaching: Dr. Cumming," The Westminster Review, 1885.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Rodney Dangerfield

Rodney Dangerfield

On this date in 1921, Rodney Dangerfield (né Jacob Cohen) was born in Babylon, N.Y. Dangerfield began performing a comedy routine when he was 17. He married singer Joyce Indig in 1949 and they had two children, Brian and Melanie. In order to support his family, Dangerfield stopped performing and became an aluminum siding salesman. After divorcing Indig in 1961, Dangerfield returned to comedy and became a highly successful stand-up comedian known for his catchphrase, “I don’t get no respect.” He founded the popular comedy club Dangerfield’s in New York City in 1969. Dangerfield performed on television shows such as "Saturday Night Live" and "The Ed Sullivan Show," as well as appearing in movies such as “Caddyshack” (1980), “Back To School” (1986) and “Natural Born Killers” (1994). He won the 1981 Grammy Award for “No Respect,” his comedy album, and was awarded the Lifetime Creative Achievement Award in 1994. Dangerfield married Joan Child in 1993.

Although Dangerfield was raised Jewish, he called himself an atheist during an interview with Howard Stern on May 25, 2004. Dangerfield added that he was a "logical" atheist. D. 2004

“We’re apes—do apes go anyplace [when they die]?”

—Rodney Dangerfield, Howard Stern Radio Show, May 25, 2004.

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor and Bonnie Gutsch

© 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  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  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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