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 2 entries for this date: Anthony Burgess and Hemant Mehta
Anthony Burgess

Anthony Burgess

On this date on 1917, Anthony Burgess (né John Anthony Burgess Wilson) was born in Manchester, England. The author of 50 books, he is best known for his novel, A Clockwork Orange (1962), which was made into a movie directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1971. Burgess was also a translator, critic, composer and librettist. "The ideal reader of my novels is a lapsed Catholic and failed musician, short-sighted, color-blind, auditorily biased, who has read the books that I have read," he told The Paris Review in a 1973 interview. He wrote at least 65 musical compositions, and preferred to be called "a musician who writes novels." He was educated at a Catholic college and graduated from Manchester University in 1940. He joined the British Army Education Corps, which entertained troops in Europe, and was stationed in Gibraltar. He taught after the war, and was a distinguished professor at the City College of New York, 1972-73. Burgess later said a World War II assault inducing a miscarriage in his first wife, Llewela Isherwood Jones, partly inspired his examination of violence in A Clockwork Orange. He also once said, "I don't think there's a heaven, but there's certainly a hell." D. 1993.

Photo by Zazie44 under CC By 3.0

“I was brought up a Catholic, became an agnostic, flirted with Islam and now hold a position which may be termed Manichee. I believe the wrong God is temporarily ruling the world and that the true God has gone under. Thus I am a pessimist but believe the world has much solace to offer: love, food, music, the immense variety of race and language, literature and the pleasure of artistic creation.”

—Anthony Burgess, The New York Times obituary, Nov. 26, 1993

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta

On this date in 1983, atheist blogger and activist Hemant Mehta was born in Chicago, Illinois, to a family that practiced Jainism, a religion from India. Mehta abandoned his faith while growing up because his religion was unable to answer questions he had about life. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he formed the school's first nonreligious group, Students WithOut Religious Dogma, or SWORD. He graduated in 2001 with degrees in math and biology. Mehta became curious about religion and wanted theists to learn more about how religious institutions are viewed by the nonreligious. This led him to "sell his soul on eBay" by posting on the popular auction website that he would attend the highest bidder's choice of religious institution. For every $10 the highest bidder gave him, he would attend one service. The auction winner decided Mehta would go to a variety of churches and write about his experiences. This resulted in Mehta's first book, "I Sold My Soul on eBay" (2007). He also started his popular blog, "friendly Atheist," which highlights events, issues and people that are important to the nonreligious community. Mehta's most recent book is "The Young Atheist's Survival Guide" (2012).

Mehta is active in the freethought community. He is the chair of the Foundation Beyond Belief, a nonprofit charity that raises money for people in need around the world and offers secular volunteer opportunities. He is also the spokesperson for the Chicago Coalition of Reason and the former chair of the Secular Student Alliance. Mehta is currently a high school math teacher and lives in Chicago, Illinois.


"At age fourteen I was asking questions. When the answers failed to satisfy me, I searched elsewhere for different answers and found wisdom in atheism. And I am far from alone in that experience."

—⎯Hemant Mehta, “I Sold My Soul on eBay,” 2007.

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano; Photo by Andrew Seidel

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