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: Horace Seaver and Taslima Nasrin
Horace Seaver

Horace Seaver

On this date in 1810, Horace Seaver was born in Boston. At age 28, he became a compositor at The Boston Investigator and learned the craft of printing. Seaver also began writing editorials under the name "Z." The Investigator had been launched in 1830 by Abner Kneeland as a weekly, becoming the most effective and prominent freethought newspaper in the U.S., continuously published until 1904 when it merged with The Truth Seeker. When Kneeland, who had been prosecuted for blasphemy more than once, resigned, Seaver was selected to become its editor.

He edited the paper for the next half-century, promoting freethought, the working class and other secular reforms. He wrote Occasional Thoughts of Horace Seaver from Fifty Years of Free Thinking (1888). When his freethinking wife died, Seaver held a "social funeral," an innovative model of the modern secular memorial service. When Seaver himself died, his funeral oration was given by the great 19th-century freethinker Robert G. Ingersoll. D. 1889.

“We have secured some political freedom — I mean for such of us as have white complexions and are sound in the faith — but with regard to mental freedom, we are to the present hour almost literally in bondage to this potent spell, Authority. Men and women really dare not think for themselves, because they are fearful of some book or some church, some sect or some creed, that stands in the way.”

—Remarks by Seaver at the Free Convention in Rutland, Vermont (July 21, 1858)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Taslima Nasrin

Taslima Nasrin

On this date in 1962, Taslima Nasrin was born in Mymensingh, Bangladesh. She graduated from Mymensingh Medical College in 1984 and worked as a physician for eight years. Nasrin is a writer, poet and journalist who started writing at 15. Her first book of poetry, Demands, was published in 1986, and she has since published many novels, essay collections and books of poetry, including The Game In Reverse (1995), French Lover (2002) and Getting Even (2002). She has also published seven autobiographical books.

Nasrin’s work contains strong feminist and atheist themes, and she often writes about the harm the Quran exerts on women. Her experience as a gynecological anesthesiologist, where she often dealt with rape and incest survivors, has profoundly influenced her writing. Nasrin is infamous among Islamic fundamentalists for her novel Shame (1993), which was banned in Bangladesh for being sympathetic to the plight of Hindus under Muslim law. She was forced to flee the country in 1994 due to numerous death threats, having three fatwas issued against her and facing criminal charges for daring to speak out against Islam. Despite fleeing Bangladesh, Nasrin is still persecuted by fundamentalists: In 2007, she was attacked during a booksigning in Hyderabad, India.

Nasrin began to question the Muslim faith as a child after reading numerous misogynistic passages in the Quran. “I came to suspect that the Quran was not written by Allah but, rather, by some selfish greedy man who wanted only his own comfort,” Nasrin explained in her speech accepting a Freethought Heroine Award at the 25th annual FFRF convention in 2002. “So I stopped believing in Islam. When I studied other religions, I found they, too, oppressed women.” In a 1994 interview with The New Yorker, she said, “I want a modern, civilized law where women are given equal rights. I want no religious law that discriminates, none, period — no Hindu law, no Christian law, no Islamic law. Why should a man be entitled to have four wives? Why should a son get two-thirds of his parents’ property when a daughter can inherit only a third?” (via Women Without Superstition).

Photo: Nasrin in 2019; CC 4.0

“I’m an atheist, and I believe religion is totally against human rights and women’s rights.” 

—Taslima Nasrin, The Atheist Newsletter, 1995

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

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