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: Edwin Kagin and Charles Schulz
Edwin Kagin

Edwin Kagin

On this date in 1940, Edwin Kagin was born in Greenville, South Carolina. In 1996 he and his late 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 United States with branches in Europe and Canada. Camp Quest campers participate in traditional camping activities such as swimming, camp fires, crafts, hiking, and other physical activities, along with participating in educational activities, which 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, he 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, Inc. He served in the United States 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. Kagin was a longtime member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. D. 2014

Photo of Helen and Edwin Kagin in the 1990s by Edwin Kagin under CC 3.0

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

——Poem by Edwin Kagin, “Atheists are Everywhere,” Sept. 12, 2005.

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Charles Schulz

Charles Schulz

On this date in 1922, Charles Schulz was born in Minneapolis, Minn. After graduating from high school, Schulz took a correspondence course from Art Instruction Schools, Inc. In 1943, Schulz was drafted into the army, where he served as a staff sergeant in France and Germany until 1945. After the war, Schulz worked as an instructor for Art Instruction Schools and did freelance cartooning. Beginning 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, although they 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 and movies. He had married Joyce Halverson in 1951, and the couple had five children before divorcing in 1972. In 1973, Schulz married his second wife, Jean Forsyth Clyde. In 1999, Schulz was diagnosed with colon cancer, and announced that he was retiring, but new strips would run daily until Jan. 3, 2000 and every Sunday until Feb. 13. (Schulz was able to produce strips very quickly and often worked many weeks ahead.) The night of Feb. 12, Schulz died in his sleep.

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, Schulz began 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 repeated Halloween storyline, of the character Linus’s persistent belief in the Great Pumpkin, who is said to bring toys to the most sincere pumpkin patch, but never shows up, as an allegory on religion, although 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. D. 2000.

“The best theology is probably no theology; just love one another.”

—Charles Schulz, quoted in his obituary in the Chicago Tribune, Feb. 14, 2000

Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski

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