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: Maya Rudolph and Helen Taylor
Maya Rudolph

Maya Rudolph

On this date in 1972, entertainer Maya Khabira Rudolph was born in Gainesville, Fla., to composer-producer Richard Rudolph, a secular Ashkenazi Jew, and African-American singer-songwriter Minnie Riperton. Her great-grandfather had changed the family name from Rudashevsky and was a founding member of a Conservative synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Riperton died of breast cancer at age 31 when Rudolph was 7 and her dad became her primary caretaker. In Riperton's song "Lovin' You," which topped the Billboard 100 in 1975, she sings "Maya" over and over near the end. Rudolph called her parents "hippies" and her agnostic dad a "pretty adorable Jew" in a New York Times Magazine profile (Sept. 14, 2018). "The family was committedly unreligious," according to the article.

Rudolph attended the University of California-Santa Cruz and received a B.A. in photography from Porter College in 1995. She was a recurring cast member who often made use of her vocal talent on “Saturday Night Live” from 2000 to 2007 after a stint as a member of The Groundlings improvisational group. She was the fourth black woman to join the cast since the show’s 1975 debut and made numerous "SNL" guest appearances after leaving the show.

She has performed in movies and TV series, including  "50 First Dates" (2004), "A Prairie Home Companion" and “Idiocracy” (2006), “Grown Ups” (2010), “Bridesmaids” (2011), "Up All Night" (2011-12), “The Maya Rudolph Show” (2014) and “Maya and Marty” (2016). In 2018 she started co-starring in and co-producing the Amazon web TV series "Forever" with Fred Armisen. Her appearance on "The Good Place" on NBC in 2018 earned her an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.

Rudolph has been in a relationship with director Paul Thomas Anderson since 2001. They have three daughters and a son: Pearl (born 2005), Lucille (born 2009), Jack (born 2011) and Minnie (born 2013). 

Rudolph, 29, at the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards in New York in 2001. (photo via Shutterstock by Everett Collection)

“I remember my mom not even saying ‘God bless you.’ She’d say, ‘Guhbless you’ because she didn’t want us to say ‘God.’ ”

—Rudolph, New York Times Magazine (Sept. 14, 2018)

Compiled by Tolulope Igun and Bill Dunn

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Helen Taylor

Helen Taylor

On this date in 1831, Helen Taylor was born in England. Her mother married John Stuart Mill in 1851. When her mother died seven years later, she took care of her esteemed stepfather and assisted Mill in writing his landmark Subjection of Women (1869). After his death in 1873, Taylor edited his Autobiography and Essays on Religion (1874). She was elected to the London School Board three times between 1876 and 1882 and championed disadvantaged children.

She agitated for abolition of school fees and for subsidized school meals and worked to stop abuses at industrial schools. In 1881 she joined the Social Democratic Federation, known as Britain’s first organized socialist political party. Taylor, a strong feminist and suffragist, attempted to run for Parliament in 1885 but her nomination papers were refused. D. 1907.

Photo: Taylor with John Stuart Mill.

“Religion should be taught by ministers of religion or by volunteer teachers, such as teachers of Sunday schools, and … the school master ought not to undertake the work of the clergyman, least of all when we have a church, the richest in the world, magnificently endowed to do its own work.”

—Helen Taylor (source uncertain, 1876)

Compiled by Tolulope Igun

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

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