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: Steve Allen and James Mercer
Steve Allen

Steve Allen

On this date in 1921, entertainer, author, songwriter and musician Steve Allen was born into a Catholic family in New York. He dropped out of Arizona State Teachers College during his sophomore year to go into radio, then served during World War II before returning to ad-lib and radio work. Allen became a household name as the original host of the NBC "Tonight Show." He portrayed Benny Goodman in the movie, "The Benny Goodman Story," recorded 40 albums as a jazz pianist, composed 7,900 songs, wrote 54 books and created 4 seasons of the memorable PBS series, "Meeting of Minds." Great minds from the past met on the groundbreaking show, which featured at least its share of freethinkers. Allen was also a lyricist whose songs include "This Could Be the Start of Something Big." He was married for 46 years to actress Jayne Meadows, his second wife. When a son joined a cult in the 1970s, Allen wrote Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults (1982). Allen became aware of the distressing nature of the bible while reading Gideon Bibles left in hotel rooms. In Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion & Morality (1990), he mused: "I believe it is the imposition of a dictatorship that increasing numbers on the Christian Right now wish to construct in the United States. . . .. They believe that Christianity should be the official religion of the United States and that American laws should be specifically Christian." D. 2000.

“It was only when I finally undertook to read the Bible through from beginning to end that I perceived that its depiction of the Lord God--whom I had always viewed as the very embodiment of perfection--was actually that of a monstrous, vengeful tyrant, far exceeding in bloodthirstiness and insane savagery the depredations of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Attila the Hun, or any other mass murderer of ancient or modern history.”

—Steve Allen, Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion & Morality, 1990

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; Photo in Public Domain

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

James Mercer

James Mercer

On this date in 1970, musician James Mercer was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Mercer has been an atheist since he was 10, breaking away from his family's Catholic faith. "There was a half-assed attempt to give me religion," Mercer said. "They sent me to a Catholic Sunday school . . . and they showed me videos of the end of the world. It seemed like a comic book and Satan was just another villain, like Lex Luthor or something. It seemed totally preposterous . . . " (Magnet magazine, No. 86). Because Mercer's father was in the Air Force, he frequently moved around the United States and Western Europe with his family. Mercer's first break as a musician came with the album, Your Land is Here, It's Time to Return, with his band Flake Music. This led them to go on tours with bands such as Modest Mouse. Mercer is well known as lead singer and songwriter of the indie band, The Shins, which formed in 1996. The Shins' four albums include "Oh, Inverted World" (2001)," Chutes Too Narrow" (2003), "Wincing the Night Away" (2007), and "Port of Morrow" (2012). "Wincing the Night Away" was nominated for a 2008 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 album chart.
Mercer's indie rock project was named Broken Bells. His co-member was Brian Burton, known as Danger Mouse, who, along with Cee Lo Green, made up the band Gnarls Barkley. Broken Bells' debut self-titled album was released in 2010 and peaked at number two in the United States on the Billboard Independent Albums' chart. Mercer's music has been featured in many movies, including "Garden State" (2004), and "The Amazing Spider-Man" (2012). He married designer/decorator Marisa Kula. They have two daughters. Mercer said in a 2012 SPIN interview: "There's no real reason for me to be so obsessed with trying to understand the true nature of things. You can live a perfectly happy life being utterly confused and not knowing."


"I do like talking with friends about big concepts, you know, the stuff that will ruin a party. To me, the party hasn't begun until we're talking about the nonexistence of God."

—James Mercer, interview with Kelly Clarke, SPIN, February, 2012

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano; photo by Mat Hayward,

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