Friends Fete Freethinker Catherine Fahringer (August 1994)

More than 60 friends and admirers paid tribute to San Antonio freethinker Catherine Fahringer at a recognition luncheon for her arranged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation on July 3 at the elegant Menger Hotel.

A waiter discreetly asked whether he should wait for an invocation before serving the lunch (which included President Clinton’s favorite mango ice cream, by the way). Needless to say, there was no invocation, but a standing ovation greeted San Antonio’s Foundation officer and Foundation activist for state/church separation.

Foundation member Jan King, president of the Secular Humanist Association of San Antonio, noted, “There is no end to her talents. She is tireless in her work to squelch the tide of nonthinkers who try so hard to control others and use others’ money for their own agendas.” Jan observed that the “best friendships develop out of mutual concerns,” saying “Catherine has enriched my life,” and been a role model.

Diane McCann, also a Foundation member who has “carried many a picket sign” for Catherine, said: “My job here is to sing the praises of Catherine.” Diane said that after moving from Chicago to the bible belt, she felt overwhelmed with religion. “Catherine’s been my therapist, giving me hope, finding the direction to raise my children without religion.”

Distinguished journalist Craig Phelon told the group that talking with Catherine is “like taking a good whiff of crisp mountain air . . . something, by the way, we have very little of in San Antonio.” [For the full text of his memorable speech, see next page].

“I got used to titles–military, academic. I have another title: I’m ‘Catherine’s husband.’ I’ll give up my other titles. I’m ‘Catherine’s husband’ and proud of it,” said Fred Fahringer.

“I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in the power of Catherine,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation staff member, after summarizing some of Catherine’s remarkable achievements.

Foundation president Anne Gaylor presented Catherine with a thank-you gift certificate, and a framed tribute from the Foundation’s Executive Council, reading:

“The Executive Council of the Freedom From Religion Foundation gratefully honors Catherine Fahringer for her outstanding achievements in maintaining the principle of separation of state and church and in enhancing the image of freethinkers.”

Catherine related the serendipitous way in which she first connected with the Foundation, through a letter to the editor by Michigan member David Perkins in US News & World Report published in 1987. In thanking the audience, she added:

“Usually events like this happen when you’re dead–how nice to do it while I’m alive!

“What I do anybody can do,” she demurred. “You just have to be stubborn! When I was young this was not considered a good trait but it can pay off.”

Catherine modestly made a tantalizing promise to “do something soon to make me worthy of this recognition.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation