Freethought of the Day

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There are 2 entries for this date: Rupert Hughes and Oksana Shachko
Rupert Hughes

Rupert Hughes

On this day in 1872, Rupert Hughes was born. The Missouri-born novelist, biographer, and screenwriter earned a B.A. from Adelbert College, Cleveland, and a Master's from Yale, 1893. He served in the Spanish-American War and in the infantry in WWI. Biographical subjects included George Washington and Samuel Gompers. More than 50 movies were written, directed or based upon Hughes' stories and novels. He founded and served for decades as president of the Hollywood Screenwriters Club. In 1924, he wrote "Why I Quit Going to Church," published by the Freethought Press Association, a forthright and thorough analysis of what is wrong with religion. In it, Hughes recounted the uproar provoked by a magazine article he wrote for The Cosmopolitan about his views on the harm of Christianity. He wrote: "I quit [going to church] because I came to believe that what is preached in the churches is mainly untrue and unimportant, tiresome, hostile to genuine progress, and in general not worth while. As for the necessity of paying homage to the deity, I began to feel that I did not know enough about God to pay him set compliments on set days. As for the God who is preached in the churches, I ceased to worship him because I could no longer believe in him or respect what is alleged of him. I cannot respect a deity who would want or even endure the hideous monotony and mechanism of most of the worship paid him by hired men, hired prayer-makers and their supporters." D. 1956.

"As for those who protest that I am robbing people of the great comfort and consolation they gain from Christianity, I can only say that Christianity includes hell, eternal torture for the vast majority of humanity, for most of your relatives and friends. Christianity includes a devil who is really more powerful than God, and who keeps gathering into his furnaces most of the creatures whom God turns out and for whom he sent his son to the cross in vain. If I could feel that I had robbed anybody of his faith in hell, I should not be ashamed or regretful."

—— Rupert Hughes, "Why I Quit Going to Church," 1924

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; Photo by By Bain News Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Oksana Shachko

Oksana Shachko

On this date in 1987, Ukranian artist and activist Oksana Shachko was born in Khmelnytski, Ukrainian SSR. In 2008, Shachko helped found FEMEN, a women’s rights group that garnered international notoriety for bare-breasted political protests. Along with the punk group Pussy Riot, FEMEN was part of the post-Soviet protest movement against corruption, wealth inequality, civil rights violations and the oppression of women and minorities. According to the New York Times, “FEMEN members protested in Ukraine against sexual exploitation; in Davos, Switzerland — the scene of an annual conference of world political and business leaders — against income inequality; and, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, against policies of the Roman Catholic Church, among other targets” (NYT, 2018).

In 2013, Shachko and other members of FEMEN were granted political asylum in France following persecution by Russian special services. Shachko claimed that, due to FEMEN’s protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin, pro-Putin agents had planted a grenade in front of her Kiev office, along with a photo of President Putin. Shachko, who was interested in religious iconography from a young age, almost became a nun at the age of 13 but was dissuaded from joining the nunnery by her parents. At the time of her death in 2018, Shachko was working on an art installation entitled “Iconoclast,” wherein Shachko painted traditional Orthodox icons, superimposing transgressive details and feminist messaging onto the icons in order to confront Orthodox religious dogma. D. 2018

“From this moment on, I began to reflect on what religion and faith mean to a human being. I found an answer, and it was atheism.”

—Oksana Shachko, 032c (2016)

Compiled by Paul Epland

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