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 2 entries for this date: Lakshmi Sahgal and Kevin Kline
Lakshmi Sahgal

Lakshmi Sahgal

On this date in 1914, revolutionary Lakshmi Sahgal, née Lakshmi Swaminathan, was born in Madras, India. She studied medicine at Madras Medical College and graduated in 1938. In 1940 she opened a medical clinic for poor Indian migrant laborers in Singapore. When Japan began occupying Singapore in 1942, Sahgal used her medical skills to helped wounded Indian prisoners of war. When the Indian nationalist leader Subhas Chandra Bose arrived in Singapore to form the Indian National Army to fight for Indian independence from the British, Sahgal met with him to see how women could be included in the movement.

Sahgal created and trained the only all-female military unit in Singapore, called the Rani of Jhansi regiment. The regiment was never used in combat and the women in the unit mainly worked as nurses. The British military later arrested Sahgal, who was a captain in the Indian National Army. She was in prison for less than a year. The British chose to release her because of anti-British sentiment in India.

Sahgal continued to practice as a doctor, undercharging her mostly poor patients. In 1971 she joined India's communist party and became an active voice in Indian politics. She was elected to India's upper house of parliament in 1971 and unsuccessfully ran for president on a platform of equality in 2002. She was a supporter of women's rights and education and advocated for ending the practice of dowries, child marriages and allowing widows to remarry.

Sahgal married a fellow army officer, Prem Kumar Sahgal, in 1947. They were married until his death in 1992 and had two children. Sahgal died in 2012 at age 97.

“I have always been an atheist. My parents were atheists. It doesn't bother me if somebody is religious. My problem is when religion is used to institutionalize other things.”

—Sahgal's daughter Subhasini Ali, politician and labor activist, interview (Aug. 8, 2001)

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Kevin Kline

Kevin Kline

On this date in 1947, actor Kevin Delaney Kline was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Though his father was Jewish and reportedly agnostic, Kline was raised in Catholicism, his mother’s religion, and attended Catholic school. ("Robert J. Kline, 87; Was Opera Buff, Owner of Record Stores," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sept. 7, 1996.) Kline graduated from Indiana University at Bloomington in 1970 with a degree in acting. He then attended the Julliard School for Drama in New York City and toured with the prominent City Center Acting Company.

Kline won a Tony Award in 1978 for his performance in the musical "On the Twentieth Century," one in 1981 for Best Actor in a Musical for "The Pirates of Penzance" and one for Best Actor in a Play for the 2017 revival of "Present Laughter." His first film, "Sophie’s Choice" (1982) starring Meryl Streep, earned him nominations for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award. In addition to "Sophie’s Choice," Kline was nominated for Golden Globes for "Soap Dish" (1991), "Dave" (1993), "In and Out" (1997) and "De-Lovely" (2004).

Some of his other films include "The Big Chill" (1983), "Silverado" (1985), "I Love You to Death" (1990), "Grand Canyon" (1991), "French Kiss" (1995), "The Ice Storm" (1997), "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" (1999), "Life as a House" (2001), "The Emperor’s Club" (2002), "A Prairie Home Companion" (2006), "Definitely, Maybe" (2008) and "No Strings Attached" (2011), which starred Natalie Portman.  Since 2011 he's had a recurring role on the animated Fox comedy series "Bob's Burgers."

Kline won the 1989 Best Supporting Actor Oscar for "A Fish Called Wanda." Having starred in numerous Shakespeare plays throughout his career, Kline won a Screen Actors Guild Award for his role in the film version of "As You Like It" in 2008.

Kline is an activist for juvenile diabetes research, a condition that afflicts his son. In 2004, Meryl Streep presented Kline with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year Award. Kline married actress Phoebe Cates in 1989 and they have two children.

"You see, I do exist."

—Kline answering the question “If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?” Bravo TV, “Inside the Actor’s Studio” (Oct. 21, 2001).

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch; photo by S_bukley,

© 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