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 3 entries for this date: Manoel Jose d'Arriaga , Harriet Johnson and Kevin Bacon

Manoel Jose d'Arriaga

On this date in 1839, Manoel Jose d'Arriaga (also listed as "de Arriaga") was born in Portugal. d'Arriaga was educated at Coimbra University, where he became a republican and a rationalist, for which his father disinherited him. Considered a vibrant speaker, the lawyer and writer served as Republican Deputy for Funchal, Madeira, in 1882-84, and in Lisbon in 1890-92. He was elected as the first President of the Portuguese Republic in 1911. D'Arriaga served the full 4-year term, inaugurating many "progressive and anti-clerical measures," according to Joseph McCabe (A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationlists, 1920). D. 1917.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Harriet Johnson

Harriet Johnson

On this date in 1957, Harriet McBryde Johnson was born in eastern North Carolina. Johnson was a civil rights lawyer in Charleston and a disability rights advocate. She advocated for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and spoke powerfully about her own experience with her disability. Johnson was born with a degenerative neuromuscular condition — she was unconcerned with the specific diagnosis — and used a motorized wheelchair as an adult. She represented disabled people in court, ran for local office, and was active in the disability-rights group Not Dead Yet, which advocates against physician-assisted suicide and opposes the idea of euthanasia of severely disabled infants. Johnson was involved in a private correspondence with philosopher Peter Singer, also an atheist. The two debated the idea of euthanasia of severely disabled infants at Princeton University in 2003. Johnson published many opinion pieces and personal narratives in national newspapers, such as The New York Times, and wrote two books, Too Late to Die Young (2005) and Accidents of Nature (2006). She also spoke out against the “charity mentality” surrounding disability, and was publicly opposed to the "Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon." D. 2008.

“As an atheist, I think all preferences are moot once you kill someone. The injury is entirely to the surviving community.”

—Harriet McBryde Johnson, opposing suicide, The New York Times, Feb. 16, 2003

Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Kevin Bacon

Kevin Bacon

On this date in 1958, Kevin Bacon was born in Philadelphia, Pa. Bacon was educated at the Circle in the Square theater school in New York City, and, after leaving home at 18, the Manning Street Actor's Theater. At age 20, Bacon debuted as Chip Diller in “Animal House” (1978). Bacon later appeared in a wide range of movies, including “Friday the 13th” (1980), “Diner” (1982), “Footloose” (1984), and “A Few Good Men”(1992). He played atheist character David Labraccio in “Flatliners” (1990). His prolific acting career is the basis for the trivia game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” in which players try to connect any person who has appeared in a film to Kevin Bacon through six or less degrees of separation. Bacon has also worked as a director, directing his first film, “Losing Chase,” in 1996. He is a member of the band The Bacon Brothers along with his brother, Michael Bacon. Bacon and actress Kyra Sedgwick married in 1988, and have two children, Travis, born in 1989, and Sosie, born in 1992.

In a 2005 interview with The Times of London, Bacon said, “I don’t believe in God.” Along with being a nonbeliever, Bacon is passionate about church-state separation. The Bacon Brothers were featured in the 2008 film “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Separation of Church and State…But Were Afraid to Ask,” where they performed their song “Children.” The song speaks out about the harm inflicted on children by religious violence, with lyrics such as “Please don’t hurt the children, please lay down the rod / Please don‘t send your bombs in and say you‘re doing the work of God.” “It has to do with God and war and how they get jumbled up sometimes, and how a lot of times it is the children that suffer from the combination of those two things,” Bacon said during a Fox News interview (via au.org blog post Two Thumbs Up!)

“I think there is a puritanical wind that is blowing. I have never seen such a lack of separation between church and state in America.” 

—Kevin Bacon, interviewed by The Times, 2005

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  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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