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: Alfred Tennyson and Lawrence Lader
Alfred Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson

On this date* in 1809, Alfred Tennyson was born in England. By the time his Poems was published in 1833 (including "The Lady of Shalott"), Tennyson had established his name as a poet. By 1850, he had earned the title, Poet Laureate. Tennyson, a deistic pantheist, was not entirely unorthodox, but he routinely trumpeted freedom ("Make bright our days and light our dreams," To J.S., 1833). Tennyson alienated freethinkers of his day when he wrote an agnostic hero in Promise of May (1882) with an "unworthy character," according to freethought historian Joseph McCabe. But Tennyson made up for such an undiplomatic lapse in other writings. Famously, he wrote in In Memoriam: "There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds." In Maud, 1855, he wrote: "The churches have killed their Christ." In "Locksley Hall Sixty Years After," Tennyson wrote: "Christian love among the churches look'd the twin of heathen hate." In Becket, he wrote: "We are self-uncertain creatures, and we may, Yea, even when we know not, mix our spites and private hates with our defense of Heaven." Tennyson recorded in his Diary (p. 127): "I believe in Pantheism of a sort." His son's biography confirms that Tennyson was not Christian, noting that Tennyson praised Giordano Bruno and Spinoza on his deathbed, saying of Bruno: "His view of God is in some ways mine." D. 1892.

* Tennyson's birthdate is given as August 5 by some sources. According to one source, his baptismal records say August 5, but his mother preferred to celebrate his birthday on August 6, her wedding anniversary, so we will, too!

“In our windy world, what's up is faith, what's down is heresy.”

—Alfred Tennyson, Harold, 1876

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Lawrence Lader

Lawrence Lader

On this date in 1919, Lawrence Lader was born in New York, N.Y. He graduated from Harvard University in 1941 and later served during World War II. Lader was a writer and journalist who worked for Reader’s Digest and The New Republic, and wrote many books about abortion rights. His 1966 book, Abortion, was the first major book published about the then-taboo subject. It was influential in the Roe v. Wade decision: the Supreme Court cited Abortion numerous times in its decision. Lader strongly supported abortion rights, co-founding the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, later changed to the National Abortion Rights Action League (now NARAL Pro-Choice America). Lader’s other titles include The Margaret Sanger Story and the Fight for Birth Control (1955) and Bold Brahmins: New England’s War Against Slavery, 1831-63 (1973). He and his wife, Joan Summers Lader, had a daughter, Wendy.

According to Anne Nicol Gaylor, co-founder of FFRF who served with Lader on the NARAL Board of Directors, Lader was a freethinker. In 1987, Lader wrote the book Politics, Power, and the Church: The Catholic Crisis and Its Challenge to American Pluralism, which criticized the influence of the Catholic church. Lader wrote, “The Catholic hierarchy still rejects pluralism when many of its moral beliefs and dogma are in dispute. Through legislation on divorce, school prayer, abortion, and a host of issues, it has sought to legalize its moral codes.” He supported the separation of church and state, stating: “Catholic power, allied with Fundamentalism, has threatened the American tenet of church-state separation and shaken the fragile balance of our pluralistic society.” Lader was awarded FFRF’s Freethought Pioneer Award in 1989 for his 1988–1989 lawsuit against the Catholic Church, which asked for the church’s tax-exempt status to be removed because of its political lobbying. The lawsuit was lost on standing. Lader died of colon cancer. D. 2006

“[The Catholic church] remains rooted in the past, an autocratic structure through which the pope and bishops make all decisions, and their constituents follow them without question.”

—Lawrence Lader, Politics, Power, and the Church, 1987.

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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