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.


Francisco Manuel do Nascimento

Francisco Manuel do Nascimento

On this date in 1734, Portuguese poet and heretical priest-on-the-run Francisco Manuel do Nascimento was born. Becoming Deistic, he translated Moliere's anti-clerical "Tartuffe" (1778), which provoked the Portuguese Inquisition to order his arrest. Nascimento fled Portugal. In exile, he wrote satires and poems under the pen-name of "Filinto-Elysio," according to Joseph McCabe's A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists. D. 1819.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Eddie Vedder

Eddie Vedder

On this date in 1964, singer and lyricist Eddie Vedder (né Edward Louis Severson III) was born in Evanston, Ill. With a rocky home life, which included living with seven foster siblings, Vedder changed his name to his mother's maiden name when he learned that his father was actually his stepfather. His family in the mid-1970s, moved to San Diego, where Vedder picked up surfing as a pastime, but he returned to Chicago to briefly attend community college in the early 1980s. Musically he was influenced by rock and punk bands such as The Who, The Doors, U2, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and Black Flag. Vedder, in his twenties, sang in the bands Bad Radio and Indian Style, with future Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave drummer, Brad Wilk. Then Vedder met with unexpected, and, according to him, unwanted fame when he co-founded the band Pearl Jam with Mother Love Bone guitarist Stone Gossard and three other skilled rock musicians. (The band was so named for Vedder's great grandmother Pearl's delectable homemade jam). The band released its first album, Ten, in 1991, and it quickly hit the top of the charts and eventually sold 12 million copies. With its dark lyrics about depression, suicide and angst, Pearl Jam, based in Seattle, became the band of choice for so-called "Generation X" teens. Anti-mainstream, Pearl Jam refused to produce any videos for its second album, Vs (1993), and canceled its summer 1994 tour when Vedder entered a heated battle with Ticketmaster for charging what he felt were unreasonable fees. (The Justice Department sided with Ticketmaster in 1995). Pearl Jam's third album, Vitalogy (1994), went multiplatinum and featured a new drummer, Jack Irons from Red Hot Chili Peppers. The band went on a 1995 European tour with Neil Young, and collaborated with him for his 1995 album, Mirror Ball.

Eddie Vedder has also made a name for himself individually, unaffiliated with Pearl Jam. Vedder wrote the songs and performed for the popular soundtracks of "Dead Man Walking" (1995), "I Am Sam" (2001), and "Into the Wild" (2007). He is an outspoken environmentalist, vegetarian and pro-choice advocate. Vedder has made widely known his nonbelief. In a Rolling Stone interview he said, "When you're out in the desert, you can't believe the amount of stars. We've sent mechanisms out there, and they haven't found anything. They've found different colors of sand, and rings and gases, but nobody's shown me anything that makes me feel secure in what happens afterward. All I really believe in is this moment, like right now. And that, actually, is what the whole album [Ten] talks about" ("Right Here, Right Now," 1991). At a July 22, 1998 Pearl Jam concert in Seattle's Memorial Stadium, Vedder said of the good weather, "I would thank God, but I don't believe in it." In a UK interview with John Robinson, Vedder noted, "[T]he word 'religion' has such bad connotations for me, that it's been responsible for wars, and it shouldn't be that way at all, it's just the way the meaning of the word has evolved to me. I have to wonder what we did on this planet before religion" (NME, "It's Getting Vedder (Man!!)," Jan. 17, 1998).

Janeane Garofalo: Can I ask what your feelings are about God?

Eddie Vedder: Sure. I think it's like a movie that was way too popular. It's a story that's been told too many times and just doesn't mean anything. Man lived on the planet — [placing his fingers an inch apart], this is 5000 years of semi-recorded history. And God and the Bible, that came in somewhere around the middle, maybe 2000. This is the last 2000, this is what we're about to celebrate [indicating about an 1/8th of an inch with his fingers]. Now, humans, in some shape or form, have been on the earth for three million years [pointing across the room to indicate the distance]. So, all this time, from there [gesturing toward the other side of the room], to here [indicating the 1/8th of an inch], there was no God, there was no story, there was no myth and people lived on this planet and they wandered and they gathered and they did all these things. The planet was never threatened. How did they survive for all this time without this belief in God? I'd like to ask this to someone who knows about Christianity and maybe you do. That just seems funny to me.

JG: Funny ha-ha or funny strange?

EV: Funny strange. Funny bad. Funny frown. Not good. That laws are made and wars occur because of this story that was written, again, in this small part of time.

—-Eddie Vedder in an interview with Janeane Garofalo in CMJ New Music Report, March 23, 1998.

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Elmina D. Slenker

On this date in 1827, Elmina Drake, the daughter of a Shaker preacher expelled for becoming a "Liberal," was born in La Grange, New York. She wrote for nearly all the Liberal (meaning freethinking) journals of her era, and knew many of the reformers. She advertised, successfully, for an egalitarian husband in the Water-Cure Journal and married Isaac Slenker, Quaker-style. Elmira preached alcoholic and sexual temperance, adopting a philosophy called "Dianaism," which taught sexual sublimation and practices to avoid unwanted pregnancies in a manner too plain-spoken for the guardians of the Comstock Act. At the age of 60, in April 1887, Elmina was arrested for mailing sealed letters of advice on sex and marriage to private correspondents. With bail set at $2,000, she was shown into a cold cell with a blanket on the floor. The New York Times critically reported in its coverage of her newsworthy arrest that Elmina refused to swear on a bible and testified at a preliminary hearing that she did not believe in god, ghosts, heaven, hell, the bible or Christianity. The pleasant, ordinary looking woman was vilified as "homely" for sporting a radical, short haircut. Unable to raise bail she spent 6 months in jail and was indicted on July 12, 1887. Freethinking attorney Edward W. Chamberlain represented her during her October trial, where a jury found her guilty. She was set free on a technicality by the judge on November 4, 1887. Truth Seeker readers paid her legal expenses. She wrote Studying the Bible in 1870, edited Little Freethinker and wrote several novels, including The Clergyman's Victims, The Infidel School-Teacher and The Darwins. She died in Snowdon, Virginia, in her early 80s. D. 1908.

“When a mere girl, my mother offered me a dollar if I would read the Bible through; . . . . despairing of reconciling many of its absurd statements with even my childish philosophy, . . . I became a sceptic, doubter, and unbeliever, long ere the 'Good Book' was ended.”

—Elmina D. Slenker, Studying the Bible, 1870. For more, see

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

D.M. Bennett

D.M. Bennett

On this date in 1818, freethought publisher De Robigne Mortimer Bennett was born two months prematurely in Springfield, New York. He had a lifelong limp. Bennett worked in a printing office and joined the New London Shaker community at 15. By the age of 27 he was working as the community's physician. He shook off the celibate Shakerism in 1846 when he and Shakeress Mary Wicks fell in love and decided to marry. He made and lost money on start-up businesses and investments in metropolitan areas around the country. In 1873, Bennett started The Truth Seeker in Paris, Illinois. The paper began as a way to reply to a clergyman whose letters were published by local papers which had suppressed Bennett's responses. He took his paper to New York the next year, where it was published at 335 Broadway. He deliberately published and mailed "An Open Letter to Jesus Christ" (written by Bennett), as well as a scientific work on marsupial propagation, to challenge the Comstock Act, which censored writings through the mail. Bennett was arrested in November 1877 for "mailing obscene material." He was defended by Robert Ingersoll and charges were dismissed. In August 1878, Bennett was again arrested, this time for selling a copy of Cupid's Yokes, for which he ultimately served a year in prison, the case becoming an international cause celebre. Some 200,000 citizens signed a petition for his release. His productivity can be gauged by his schedule between 1873 and 1882. During those years he spent a year in prison, went for a year-long world voyage, spent a season in Europe and wrote The World's Sages, Thinkers and Reformers (1,100 pages), The Champions of the Church (even longer), The Gods and Religions of Ancient and Modern Times (2-vol., 1,000 pages each), An Infidel Abroad (800 pages), A Truth Seeker Around the World (4-vol., 750 pages each), and "unnumbered columns of editorial matter and articles for The Truth Seeker," according to his profile in Four Hundred Years of Freethought (ed. by S.P. Putnam). He built up The Truth Seeker into a major publishing house of freethought and scientific titles. He died at 64. Freethinkers of America erected a monument over his grave. D. 1882.

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.


FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

FFRF privacy statement

AAI-LOGO

FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.