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: Charles Schulz and Edwin Kagin
Charles Schulz

Charles Schulz

On this date in 1922, Charles Monroe Schulz was born in Minneapolis. After graduating from high school in St. Paul, he took a correspondence course from Art Instruction Schools Inc. He was drafted into the Army in 1943 and served as a staff sergeant in France and Germany until 1945. After the war he worked as an instructor for Art Instruction Schools and did freelance cartooning. Starting in 1947, he drew a comic strip, “Li’l Folks,” for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In 1950, the United Feature Syndicate agreed to distribute the strip and renamed it “Peanuts.”

By 1953 “Peanuts” with its now-iconic lead character Charlie Brown was a hit. Over the years, Schulz received many awards and licensing deals for his work and wrote several “Peanuts” animated television specials. He had married Joyce Halverson in 1951 and they had five children before divorcing in 1972. In 1973 he married Jean Forsyth Clyde. In 1999 he was diagnosed with colon cancer and announced he was retiring, but that new strips would run daily until Jan. 3, 2000, and every Sunday until Feb. 13. He died in his sleep Feb. 12, 2000. His Chicago Tribune obituary noted he had once said that “The best theology is probably no theology; just love one another.”

Schulz was raised a Lutheran and as an adult served as a Methodist Sunday school teacher for ten years. In the 1980s and 90s, however, he started to describe himself as a “secular humanist.” Schulz’s characters continued to quote the bible, discussing religion’s inconsistencies among their other philosophical musings.

Some readers have taken Schulz’s Halloween storyline of the character Linus’s persistent belief in the Great Pumpkin, expected to bring toys to the pumpkin patch but never showing up, as an allegory on religion. But Schulz did not claim any such thing and often said of “Peanuts” that he was just trying to write funny strips on time, not to expound any profound philosophical points.

Library of Congress photo: Schulz in 1956.

"I do not go to church anymore, because I could not be an active part of things. I guess you might say I've come around to secular humanism, an obligation I believe all humans have to others and the world we live in."

—Schulz, quoted in "Good Grief: The Story of Charles M. Schulz" by Rheta Grimsley Johnson (1989)

Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Edwin Kagin

Edwin Kagin

On this date in 1940, Edwin Frederick Kagin was born in Greenville, South Carolina. In 1996 he and his wife Helen founded Camp Quest, a summer camp for the children of atheists, humanists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers. The Kagins suggested Camp Quest as a way to counter the exclusion of nontheists from the Boy Scouts. Over 16 locations of Camp Quest have spread across the U.S., with branches in Europe and Canada. Campers participate in traditional activities such as swimming, camp fires, crafts, hiking, along with participating in educational activities.

Those activities include science experiments, learning about famous freethinkers, evolution and world religions. Campers also participate in a logical exercise in which they attempt to prove an invisible unicorn does not exist. Camp Quest's vision is "a world in which children grow up exploring, thinking for themselves, connecting with their communities, and acting to make the most of life for themselves and others."

The son of a Presbyterian minister, Kagin earned his law degree from the University of Louisville in 1972. In addition to practicing civil rights and constitutional law, he was the national legal director for American Atheists. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a medic in 1961-62. Kagin was the author of Baubles of Blasphemy (2005) and a contributing author of The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America (2003). He was married to Helen from 1984 until her death in 2010. He was a longtime FFRF member. He died in 2014.

Helen and Edwin Kagin in 2005. CC 4.0

Atheists Are Everywhere

There are Atheists in foxholes
Atheists in hurricanes
There are Atheists in all the roles
Denied by your refrains.

Atheists are your fellow citizens
People who love and laugh and cry
Atheists are your relatives and friends
Don't insult them with a lie.

Atheists in many foxholes served
And some have had to die
Give Atheists the thanks deserved
Don't dismiss them with a lie.

Atheists are all around you
They work, they help, they care
And no matter what you think is true
Atheists are everywhere
And no matter what you think is true
They do not want your prayer.

—Kagin poem, “Atheists Are Everywhere” (Sept. 12, 2005)

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

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