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: John Adams and MC Paul Barman
John Adams

John Adams

On this date in 1735, John Adams, who became the second U.S. president, was born to John Adams Sr. and Susanna Boylston Adams on a farm in Braintree (now Quincy), Mass. Harvard-educated, he chucked ministerial studies for the law. In his Works, he wrote, "People are not disposed to inquire for piety, integrity, good sense or learning in a young preacher, but for stupidity (for so I must call the pretended sanctity of some absolute dunces), irresistible grace, and original sin." He married Abigail Smith, who later fruitlessly urged him to "remember the ladies" in the Constitution. Their son, John Quincy Adams, became the sixth U.S. president.

A revolutionary, John Adams opposed the Stamp Act, was a delegate at the First and Second Continental Congresses and proposed George Washington as commander of the military. Adams seconded the motion for the Declaration of Independence. He was also a diplomat. Adams carefully studied religion. According to the biography by his somewhat orthodox grandson, he was "very much in the mold accepted by the Unitarians of New England," while other historians put him squarely in the deist camp. Later in life he joined the Unitarian Church.

Adams wrote Thomas Jefferson: "Twenty times in the course of my late readings, I have been on the point of breaking out, 'This would be the best of all worlds if there were no religion in it!' " But Adams qualified that by adding, "Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company — I mean hell." He didn't believe in miracles or prophecies, eternal damnation or demonic possession and wrote a History of the Jesuits as an exposé. In the Massachusetts constitutional conventions of 1779 and 1820, he fought to separate church and state, a reform adopted after his death.

He believed in an afterlife for emotional reasons. "If I did not believe in a future state, I should believe in no God," he wrote Jefferson. Adams wrote a three-volume treatise on the U.S. Constitution. He was vice president under Washington from 1788-96 and was elected president in 1796, serving one term. Although he and Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826, Adams' dramatic dying words were "Jefferson lives." D. 1826.

"Although both Jefferson and Adams denied the miracles of the Bible and the divinity of Christ, Adams always retained a respect for the religiosity of people that Jefferson never had; in fact, Jefferson tended in private company to mock religious feelings."

—"Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson" by Gordon S. Wood (2017)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

MC Paul Barman

On this date in 1974, Paul Nathaniel Barman (stage name MC Paul Barman) was born in Ridgewood, N.J. He graduated from Brown University in 1997 with a B.A. degree. Barman is a hip-hop artist who often raps about humorous and academic subjects. He began rapping in 1996 and released his first single, “Postgraduate Work,” in 1998. His albums as of this writing are “It’s Very Stimulating” (an EP, 2000), “Paullelujah!” (2002), “Thought Balloon Mushroom Cloud” (2009) and "Echo Chamber" (2018).

Barman is culturally Jewish but does not believe in God. LA Weekly in 2012 ranked him at number 14 on the "Top 20 Whitest Musicians of All Time" list.

THE ONION: Is there a God?
PAUL BARMAN: Obviously not.
O: Why obviously not?
PB: Isn't believing in God like wearing chain mail?
O: In that it protects you from being lanced?
PB: [Laughs.] In that you just don't do it anymore.

—Paul Barman, The Onion A.V. Club (Sept. 6, 2000)

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

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