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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Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich

On this date in 1941, author Barbara Ehrenreich was born in Butte, Montana. She graduated from Reed College in 1963 and earned her Ph.D. at Rockefeller University in 1968, working in the field of science, then turning to writing. Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers (1972), co-written with Deirdre English, was a widely acclaimed expose, of male domination of female health care. Essays by this atheist, socialist and feminist are regularly featured in mass-circulation periodicals, such as The Nation, Ms., Mother Jones, Esquire, Vogue, and The New York Times Magazine. For many years, Barbara Ehrenreich was a regular columnist for Time. Other books include For Her Own Good: One Hundred Fifty Years of the Experts' Advice to Women (1978, with Deirdre English), The Hearts of Men (1983), The Worst Years of Our Lives (1990), and the classic expose Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America, in which she went undercover as a waitress and member of the working-class poor. Her classic article, "U.S. Patriots: Without God on Their Side," originally appeared in Mother Jones, February/March 1981, and is reprinted in the anthology Women Without Superstition. In an essay for The New York Times Magazine, Ehrenreich proudly described her family as "the race of 'none,' " as being "the kind of people . . . who do not believe, who do not carry on traditions. . ." Ms. Ehrenreich was named "Freethought Heroine" by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 1999.

“In my parents' general view, new things were better than old, and the very fact that some ritual had been performed in the past was a good reason for abandoning it now. Because what was the past, as our forebears knew it? Nothing but poverty, superstition and grief. 'Think for yourself,' Dad used to say. 'Always ask why.'”

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Zona Gale

Zona Gale

On this date in 1874, Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist Zona Gale was born in Portage, Wisconsin. Following a siege of diphtheria, the once-stout child emerged with delicate health and a lifelong fragility, and turned to imaginative play. Her mother was an ultra-religious Presbyterian, but Zona's father stopped attending church. A scoffer at an early age, Zona wrote in her unfinished autobiography that when her mother told her, at the age of five, how Santa Claus comes down the chimney to deliver toys, Zona replied: "You can't make me believe any such stuff as that." Zona received a degree in literature from the University of Wisconsin in 1895, then worked for two daily Wisconsin newspapers. She earned her Master of Literature degree in 1899, while churning out gothic tales. In 1901, she became a reporter for the Evening World in New York City, then a freelance writer, subsisting on legendary birdlike meals while sending money home to her parents. Her first book, Romance Island, was published in 1906. Zona's series of sentimental stories, "Friendship Village," about small-town life, appeared in major periodicals, and the stories were later published in four volumes (1908-1919). Zona moved back to Wisconsin in 1911, and became an ardent supporter of Progressive Senator Robert LaFollette, writing for his magazine. Her pacifism during World War I radicalized her, as did her friendships with Jane Addams and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Zona served as vice-president of the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association and the Wisconsin Peace Society, shifting her writing from the sentimental to realism. Her important tragedy, Birth, was published in 1918, and Miss Lulu Bett (1920), an ironic, feminist look at small-town life, was a bestseller. Her dramatization of that novel brought her the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for drama. In midlife, she married Will Breese. She continued working on progressive causes until her death from pneumonia. D. 1938.

'Who made bed-time?' I inquired irritably.
'S-h-h!' said Delia. 'God did.'
'I don't believe it,' I announced flatly.
'Well,' said Delia, 'anyway, he makes us sleep.'
This I also challenged. 'Then why am I sleepier when I go to church evenings than when I play Hide-and-go-seek in the Brice's barn evenings?' I submitted.

"

—Zona Gale, When I was a Little Girl. For more on Gale, see hop/books/details.php?cat=fbooks&ID=FB8

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Robert Walpole

Robert Walpole

On this date in 1676, (Sir) Robert Walpole was born in England. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, he represented King's Lynn in the House of Commons for most of his adult life. He was named Secretary at War in 1708 and Treasurer of the Navy in 1710. That year he was imprisoned by the Tories for leading the Whigs, the opposition party, and was barred from office until 1715. He then became First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Walpole was the only public official to openly oppose the Spanish War, and was considered one of England's greatest statesmen, according to freethought historian Joseph McCabe. Walpole has often been called England's "first Prime Minister." Although he publicly identified with the Church of England for political expediency, biographer A.C. Ewald called him a "sceptic as regards religion" (Sir R. Walpole, 1878). When Queen Caroline, also a deist, lay dying, it was advised that the Archbishop be summoned. Walpole, who was in attendance, remarked: "Let this farce be played; the Archbishop will act it very well . . . . It will do the Queen no hurt, no more than any good" (Lord Hervey's Memoirs). D. 1745.

“[Walpole was] a man whose life reflected a genial paganism, who regarded all creeds with the impartiality of indifference, and who looked upon religion as a local accident and as the result of hereditary influences.”

—Biographer A.C. Eward, Sir R. Walpole (1878)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Anniversary of Women's Equality Day

Happy Women's Equality Day! Today is the anniversary of the adoption of the 19th Amendment extending the right to vote to women in the United States. The first to call for woman suffrage was freethinker Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848, who also proposed the text of the 19th Amendment, which passed in 1920.

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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