On this date in 1931, Sherry Matulis was "born an atheist (aren't we all?) in the small town of Nevada, Iowa. You couldn't go out to play hopscotch or kick-the-can without tripping over a church or two. (Or a tavern. The churches had a reciprocal arrangement, I think. . .)" she wrote in a column for The Feminist Connection. "But tripping over all those churches wasn't the real problem. The real problem was all that time spent inside them--skipping over the facts of reality." ("Speaking of Religious Experiences, speech on October 24, 1981, to the annual convention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Louisville, Kentucky.) At 20, Sherry was surprised to find herself in the first "Miss Universe" contest, selected by photographs submitted by her husband. As the "village atheist" in Peoria, Illinois, Sherry ran small businesses for many years, and had five children. A poet and writer, Sherry became a national spokesperson for abortion rights in the 1980s, when she wrote about her life-threatening experience in seeking an illegal abortion in Peoria, Illinois, in 1954. Sherry was invited to speak about her experiences before a U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, chaired by Orrin Hatch, in 1981. She has testified before several state legislatures. In 1990, Sherry spoke at the U.S. Senate committee hearings on the Freedom of Choice Act. A firm atheist, Sherry has appeared on many radio and national TV programs. Her articles, stories and poetry have been published in such periodicals as Redbook, Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, Questar, Analog, Freethought Today, and The Rationalist. She has received many awards for her work to protect abortion rights, including from the American Humanist Association and the National Organization for Women.
Aware of light and yet condemned to grope
Through dark regression's cave, told she must find
Life's purpose in that blackness, without hope,
Denied the luminescence of her mind
Until, at last, she finds the darkness kind,
Religion's child--a babe once bright and fair,
Curls up, tucks in her tail, and says her prayer.
Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor
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