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.


Georges Clemenceau

Georges Clemenceau

On this date in 1841, French statesman and journalist Georges Clemenceau was born in France. Clemenceau followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a physician and a freethinker. At 16, he was briefly suspended from school for debating Christianity with a teacher. Clemenceau began writing for Emile Zola's newspaper, Travail, advocating a republic and free speech, and served 63 days in jail in 1862 as a student demonstrator under the reign of Napoleon III. As a foreign correspondent for Le Temps, he went to New York City in 1865. He met his wife-to-be teaching French at a ladies seminary in Connecticut. Clemenceau's book, The Great God Pan (1869), described how superstitions live on under new guises. Clemenceau also translated John Stuart Mill's book, Auguste Comte and Positivism. Returning to France, he became Mayor of Montmartre, served as a member of the Paris Municipal Council (1871-76) and was elected five times to the National Assembly. During an interlude when he left politics, Clemenceau returned to journalism. His newspaper articles, permeated with anti-clericalism and the promotion of rationalism, eventually were bound into 19 volumes. Clemenceau contributed to L'Aurore, and worked tirelessly for the release of Alfred Dreyfuss, writing more than a thousand influential articles about the case. Known as "The Tiger," the politician returned to the Chambre in 1902, became Minister of the Interior, then premier (1906-1909). Clemenceau was again elected Prime Minister in 1917-1920, and was toasted as "Pere Victoire" (Father Victory) at the close of World War I. Clemenceau was a connoisseur of the arts, and a personal friend of Rodin. He was buried, per instructions, with no rites. D. 1929.

“Not only have the 'followers of Christ' made it their rule to hack to bits all those who do not accept their beliefs, they have also ferociously massacred each other, in the name of their common 'religion of love,' under banners proclaiming their faith in Him who had expressly commanded them to love one another.”

—-Georges Clemenceau, In the Evening of My Thought (Au Soir de la pensee), chapter on "Gods and Laws." Translated by William Raymond Clark, professor of French at Salem State College, Massachusetts. For more about Clemenceau, see Prof. Clark's article, "George Clemenceau: Journalist: Statesman, Atheist," Freethought Today, August 2002.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Robert Stout

Robert Stout

On this date in 1844, New Zealand statesman Sir Robert Stout was born in the Shetland Isles, Scotland. He was educated in parish schools, qualified as a student teacher at age 13, then as a surveyor in 1860. Stout emigrated to New Zealand in 1863. After teaching in Dunedin, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1871. He served as a member of the Provincial Council of Otago in 1872, was Provincial Solicitor from 1873-1876, and was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1875 as a Liberal. He served as Attorney General and Minister for Lands and Immigration from 1878-79. He became president of the Dunedin Freethought Association in 1880, and also defended the Auckland Rationalist Association when it was threatened with prosecution for selling its magazine on Sundays. Stout eventually introduced a bill, which passed, reducing Blue Law fines and restrictions. He was often described at New Zealand's version of Charles Bradlaugh, a correspondent, and America's Robert Ingersoll. He was returned to Parliament in 1884, and was Premier, Attorney-General and Minister of Education from 1884-1887. He was knighted in 1886. Stout promoted secondary schools, medical and welfare services, and was sympathetic to the Maori and land reform. He passed the Married Women's Property Act while Prime Minister. During his entire political career he championed a secular educational system. Stout returned to Parliament in time to finally see passage of women's suffrage in 1893, a reform he had promoted. He was appointed Chief Justice, serving from 1899-1926. He was also chancellor of the New Zealand University (1903-1923). When he retired as Chief Justice, Stout was appointed to the Legislative Council, where he immediately defended secular education, which was under attack by religionists seeking to introduce bible reading and prayers in school: "I fear that parliament may set up a little state church to make people morally good . . . it will make them immoral, for it will inaugurate bitterness and ill feeling." He married Anna Paterson Logan, the daughter of social reformers and freethinkers, and they had six children. D. 1930.

“We recognise no authority competent to dictate to us. Each must believe what he considers to be true and act up to his belief, granting the same right to everyone else.”

 

—Robert Stout, inaugural address as president of Dunedin Freethought Association, 1880

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Prosper Merimee

Prosper Merimee

On this date in 1803, writer and dramatist Prosper Merimee was born in Paris, France. The son of an artist, Merimee initially studied law, then switched to the humanities. His first play, "Cromwell," was published in 1822, followed by several famed literary "hoaxes," more plays and a travel book. A student of language, Merimee made the first translations into French of many Russian classics. In the 1830s, he was appointed chief of cabinet to two ministers, then inspector-general of historical monuments, where his archaeological interests could be explored. His most famous novella, Carmen, was published in 1845, and later made into an opera by fellow rationalist Georges Bizet in 1869. Merimee was made a senator in 1853 by Eugenie of France, the daughter of his Spanish friend, the Countess of Montigo of Spain. Freethought historians Joseph McCabe, and J.M. Robertson describe Prosper Merimee as an atheist and a rationalist. D. 1870.

“The only excuse for God is that he doesn't exist.”

 

—Letter to fellow atheist Prosper Merimee by friend M. de Stendhal. (Cited in The Encyclopedia of Unbelief,

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Greydon Square

Greydon Square

On this date in 1981, rapper Greydon Square, ne Eddie Collins, was born in Compton, California. Greydon Square is an outspoken atheist whose clever lyrics focus on atheism, criticisms of religion, science, and other philosophical topics. He also has rapped about his experiences growing up in Compton and serving in the War in Iraq. His parents are absent from his life, so as a child and teenager lived in several different group homes. He taught himself how to play piano at one of the group homes when he was nine. As a teenager he joined the gang Tragniew Park Compton Crips. At 19 he decided to make a change in his life and join the army, where he was deployed to the front lines of Iraq. Greydon Square began studying physics at Arizona State University, but later changed to computer science. He became an atheist at 25 when he began to think critically about religion. Greydon Square has a large fanbase in the atheist community, and admirers of his music include Richard Dawkins and Penn Jillette.

Greydon Square has released six albums: Absolute (2004), The Compton Effect (2007), The C.P.T. Theorem (2008), Type I: The Kardashev Scale (2010), Type II: The Mandelbrot Set (2012). His album Omniverse: Type 3: Aum niverse  is set to be released in 2014.

 

"After a lot of reading, and research, I realized, I didn't have any secret channel picking up secret messages from god or anyone else. That voice in my head was my own."

—--Greydon Square in a 2010 interview with Martin Pribble for Martin Pribble’s blog, Attempting to Make Sense.

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Bhagat Singh

Bhagat Singh

On this date in 1907, Indian revolutionary Bhagat Singh was born in Jaranwala Tehsil, in the province of Punjab in British India. Throughout his life Singh was a leader in India's struggle for freedom and self-rule against the British. While he was in his early teens Singh followed Gandhi and participated in Gandhi's Non-Cooperation Movement. Singh became disillusioned when Gandhi called off the movement in 1922 because he thought it had become too violent. Singh began to attend the National College in Lahore in 1923, but did not finish. He left home in 1924 to order to avoid getting married and to focus on being a revolutionary. In 1928, police beat to death the leader of a non-violent, Lala Lajpat Rai. The protest was against India's lack of representation in the government. The British government refused to take responsibility for Lala Lajpat Rai's death, so no one was held responsible. Singh wanted to get revenge for the murder by killing the police officer who had ordered the murder, but he accidentally killed the wrong police officer. Because of the revolutionary activity happening in India, Britain decided to put in place the Defense of India Act 1915, which gave police officers greater power. Singh was part of a group of revolutionaries who protested this, and other wrongs the British had committed against India, by throwing bombs in the Central Legislative Assembly. No one died in the attack, but people were injured. Singh was arrested and put in jail for his revolutionary activity. He used the publicity he received while in jail to promote Indian self-rule and draw attention to discrimination Indian prisoners received in jail. He also led a hunger strike while in prison. Singh was sentenced to death and was hanged with two of his fellow revolutionaries on March 23, 1931. Singh became an icon and martyr of the Indian independence movement. D. 1931

 

“Let us see how steadfast I am. One of my friends asked me to pray. When informed of my atheism, he said, ‘When your last days come, you will begin to believe.’ I said, ‘No, dear sir, Never shall it happen. I consider it to be an act of degradation and demoralization. For such petty selfish motives, I shall never pray.’ Reader and friends, is it vanity? If it is, I stand for it.”

—Bhagat Singh in his essay, Why I am an Atheist, written in 1930.

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Janeane Garofalo

Janeane Garofalo

On this date in 1964, actress and comedian Janeane Garofalo was born into a conservative family in Newton, N.J. Her family relocated to Houston when she was in high school. She majored in history at Providence College, where she quickly shed her parents' politics. While a college student, Garofalo entered a Showtime-sponsored comedy talent search and won the title of "Funniest Person in Rhode Island." After college, she became a standup comedian. To make ends meet she worked briefly as a bike messenger in Boston. Garofalo's breakthrough came when she befriended actor/comedian Ben Stiller in 1992 and joined the cast of his acclaimed sketch comedy program, "The Ben Stiller Show." She starred in the 1994 Ben Stiller film, "Reality Bites," and was nominated for an Emmy, in 1996, for her role on Gary Shandling's HBO series, "The Larry Sanders Show." She briefly joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" in 1994, worked as a correspondent on Michael Moore's news magazine, TV Nation, and hosted "Comedy Product," a standup showcase on Comedy Central. Garofalo appeared in or starred in  films such as, "Now and Then" (1995), "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" (1996), "Larger Than Life" (1996), "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion" (1997), "The Matchmaker" (1997), "Cop Land" (1997) and "Dogma" (1999), a film satirizing religion. She starred with Joaquin Phoenix and Vince Vaughan in 1998's "Clay Pigeons," and worked again with Stiller in "Permanent Midnight" (1998) and "Mystery Men" (1999).

In addition to her extensive acting and comedy career, Garofalo has been an outspoken critic of religion. Calling herself an atheist on her radio show, "The Majority Report," Garofalo has become a favorite of the left and a target of right-wing criticism. She helped launch Air America and has been a guest on Freethought Radio (May 26, 2007). Also a noted peace activist, Garofalo has said, "[God] just seems very man-made to me. There are so many theories, and not everyone can be right. It's human nature to need a religious crutch, and I don't begrudge anyone that. I just don't need one" ("Showbiz," Aug. 1995). Garofalo's celebrity has only grown, with appearances on the final season of "The West Wing" (2005-2006), the series finale of "Mad About You" (1999), the voice of Stith on "Titan A.E." (2000), the voice of Colette in "Ratatouille" (2007), and a recurrent role in the 2009 season of the hit show, "24." Garofalo received an Emperor Has No Clothes Award from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 2001, for "telling it like it is" about religion, and in 2007 became a Lifetime member of the Foundation.

"Organized religions and their dogmas only serve to indoctrinate the participants into sheeplike common behaviors. This type of blind assimilation promotes the popularity of top-forty count down radio stations and movie sequels. Skepticism towards groups, holy or otherwise, is enriching and makes you a far more entertaining person." 

—Feel This Book: An Essential Guide to Self-Empowerment, Spiritual Supremacy, and Sexual Satisfaction by Janeane Garofalo & Ben Stiller, 1999, p. 172-173.

Compiled by 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  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.