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.

As a member, to receive Freethought of the Day in your email inbox, contact us here. To become an FFRF member, click here. To learn more about FFRF, request information here.

There are 4 entries for this date: Jack Nicholson , "Mme. de Stael" , Robert Patterson and Amber Heard
Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson

On this date in 1937, actor Jack Nicholson was born in New Jersey. He appeared in his first movie in 1958. "Five Easy Pieces" (1970) was a breakthrough role. His many notable movies include: "Easy Rider" (1969); "Carnal Knowledge" (1971); "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975), for which he won a Best Actor Oscar; "The Shining" (1980); "Terms of Endearment" (1983), for which he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar; "Prizzi's Honor" (1985); "Heartburn" (1986); "The Witches of Eastwick" (1987), in which he played "the devil;" "Batman" (1989); "A Few Good Men" (1992), "As Good as It Gets" (1997), which won him a second Best Actor Oscar, "About Schmidt" (2002), "The Bucket List" (2007) and "I'm Still Here" (2010).

Nicholson was raised as a Catholic but stopped attending church in high school. In a 1992 Vanity Fair interview, he said, "I don't believe in God now." Twelve years later, in an Esquire magazine interview, he said that he prayed "to something" and had "a God sense. It's not religious so much as superstitious. It's part of being human, I guess."

"I resist all established beliefs. My religion basically is to be immediate, to live in the now. It's an old cliché, I know, but it's mine. I envy people of faith. I'm incapable of believing in anything supernatural. So far, at least. Not that I wouldn't like to."

—Nicholson, interview with Esquire magazine (January 2004)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; photo by Featureflash,

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

"Mme. de Stael"

On this date in 1766, Germaine Necker, later known as "Mme. de Stael," was born in France. Her mother was pious but her father, who was director-general of finance under King Louis XVI, was more liberal. Germaine started writing political essays at 15. She married the Swedish ambassador, the Baron de Stael, in 1786. They separated after a few years.

De Stael wrote "Sophie," a drama, in 1786, studied Rousseau and left Paris in 1792 for long periods of both self-imposed and Napoleon-imposed exiles. During her travels, she wrote a four-volume novel, Delphine, published in 1802. Although the Revolution cooled some of her Voltairean views, she continued to reject Christianity. D. 1817.

“She spoke much about the preservation of religion, in which, she gave me to understand, she did not herself believe.”

—American envoy John Q. Adams, writing about de Stael in a letter to his mother dated Nov. 22, 1812; "Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, Vol. xxiii" (1913)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Robert Patterson

Robert Patterson

On this date in 1934, Robert Eugene Patterson was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He attended church with a neighbor until the age of 17, when he began to question the existence of a God. He has rejected religion ever since. A successful businessman, his accomplishments include the development of a police radar gun, which is also the most easily serviced gun used. He is an avid aviator and the owner of several airplanes. He didn't discover the joy of parrots until later in life and is the proud owner of two blue and gold macaws. He is a longtime member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and treasurer of the Kansas City Community of Reason.

“Talking to god is crazy. Hearing god is schizophrenia. Acting on it is insanity.”

—Robert Patterson, quote submitted

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; photo courtesy of Robert Patterson

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Amber Heard

Amber Heard

On this date in 1986, actress Amber Laura Heard was born in Austin, Texas, to Paige Parsons and David Heard. She dropped out of high school after her best friend died in a car accident (after which she rebelled against her religious upbringing) but later completed the requirements for a diploma. She started her acting career in television and music videos and began appearing in more substantial roles with "Friday Night Lights" (2004) and the next year in "North Country," in which she played Charlize Theron's character in flashbacks.

Other roles followed, including "Pineapple Express" (2008), "Zombieland" (2009) and 2011's "The Rum Diary" opposite Johnny Depp. Heard received a 2008 Young Hollywood Award for what was called a breakthrough comedic performance in "Pineapple Express." Her increasing popularity was attested to by the 2013 nationwide theater release of her film "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane," which premiered at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. It was announced in early 2016 that she would have starring roles as Queen Mera in the "Justice League" and "Aquaman" movies. She and actor Johnny Depp were wed in February 2015 and divorced in 2017.

She reprised her role in 2021 as Mera in the superhero film "Zack Snyder's Justice League," a director's cut of the 2017 film. It was announced in 2020 that she would star in the sequel to "Aquaman" (2018), set to begin filming in summer 2021.

Heard has been involved with LGBT rights, Amnesty International and the United Nations program Girl Up. Her beguiling physicality has also landed her on numerous magazine covers, including Missbehave in April 2008. In that issue, she talked about how being raised in "a strict Catholic environment" led her to know "I will never be a religious person."

Photo by gdcgraphics under CC 2.0.

"I'd like to thank the way I was raised for giving me enough knowledge about organized religion to make the adult decision to live the rest of my life without it. I don't think you can believe or not believe in anything unless you know a lot about it. I know Christianity, especially Catholicism, like the back of my hand. And my education has given me the freedom to know that it is completely absurd for me to believe it."

—Missbehave magazine, April/May 2008

Compiled by Bill Dunn

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

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 is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

FFRF privacy statement