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 3 entries for this date: Angelina Jolie , Wallace v. Jaffree and Susan Jacoby
Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie

On this date in 1975, Angelina Jolie (née Angelina Jolie Voight) was born in Los Angeles to actor Jon Voight and Marcheline Bertrand. She majored in film at New York University and trained at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute as a youth. Jolie has been in almost 40 films to date, including an Oscar-winning performance in "Girl, Interrupted" (1999). Others that were critically acclaimed and became box office hits include "Beyond Borders" (2003), "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" (2001, sequel 2003), "Changeling" (2008) and "A Mighty Heart" (2007).

Jolie has gained a reputation as a bold and controversial actress, especially for her roles in "Foxfire" (1996) and "Gia" (1998). She earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for "The Changeling." Her biggest commercial success to date is the fantasy picture "Maleficent" (2014). In the 2010s she expanded into directing, screenwriting and producing with the war dramas "In the Land of Blood and Honey" (2011), "Unbroken" (2014) and "First They Killed My Father" (2017).

Jolie serves as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She has traveled extensively to war-torn, impoverished countries, including Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Pakistan. At age 37 she had a double preventive mastectomy after learning she had an 87% chance of developing breast cancer. She had a 12-year relationship (including marriage) and several biological and adopted children with Brad Pitt, also a freethinker. They divorced in 2019.

Jolie at the 2004 premiere of "Alexander" in Cologne. Photo by Stefan Servos. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

"For the people who believe in it, I hope so. There doesn't need to be a God for me."

—Jolie, responding to the question "Is there a God?" The Onion A.V. Club (Sept. 6, 2000)

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Wallace v. Jaffree

Wallace v. Jaffree

On this date in 1985, Wallace v. Jaffree was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, forbidding school officials to direct "silent prayer" and meditation for the purpose of prayer in public schools.

FFRF photo: Alabama plaintiff Ishmael Jaffree.

"Just as the right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking are complementary components of a broader concept of individual freedom of mind, so also the individual's freedom to choose his own creed is the counterpart of his right to refrain from accepting the creed established by the majority.
"At one time it was thought that this right merely proscribed the preference of one Christian sect over another, but would not require equal respect for the conscience of the infidel, the atheist, or the adherent of a non-Christian faith such as Mohammedism or Judaism. But when the underlying principle has been examined in the crucible of litigation, the Court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all."

—Justice John Paul Stevens for the majority, Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (June 4, 1985)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Susan Jacoby

Susan Jacoby

On this date in 1945, scholar and author Susan Jacoby was born in Okemos, Michigan. Her father was a secular Jew of German heritage who converted to Catholicism when Jacoby was a child and her mother was Irish Catholic. She graduated from Michigan State University in 1965 and started her writing career as a Washington Post reporter. Her first book, Moscow Conversations (1972), was based on articles she contributed to the Post from the Soviet Union between 1969-71. She then wrote Wild Justice: The Evolution of Revenge (a 1984 Pulitzer Prize finalist) and The Possible She (1979).

Among the best-known of the prolific Jacoby’s 13 books are Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (2004) and The Age of American Unreason (2008). The latter was updated in 2018 with the title The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of Lies, which expanded on how the trends she analyzed in 2008 contributed to Donald Trump's election in 2016.

In Half-Jew: A Daughter’s Search for Her Family’s Buried Past (2000), Jacoby detailed her quest to learn more about her family’s real history. In 2013 she published The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought. Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion (2016) explored religious conversion, a topic of particular interest because of her father's conversion to Catholicism. Her newest book, as of this writing, is Why Baseball Matters (2018), described by Yale University Press as "a love letter to the game and a tough-minded analysis of the current challenges to its special position — in reality and myth — in American culture."

Jacoby lectures extensively, often on the links between feminism and secularism. Her reviews, articles and essays have appeared in a wide variety of prestigious national publications, including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post. She has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards from institutions such as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim, Rockefeller and Ford foundations. She was the recipient in 2019 of the Richard Dawkins Award from Atheist Alliance International. 

She is a member of the honorary boards of the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Center for Inquiry, where she was also program director for the New York City branch.She was named FFRF's Freethought Heroine Award in 2004. Her acceptance speech, "How Secularism Became a Dirty Word," is here

Photo courtesy of susanjacoby.com

"I'm an atheist because of, which has made a lot of people an atheist, because of the theodicy problem. The problem of if there is this all good, all powerful, all loving god, you know, how come kids are shot in Newtown? How come people when I was young died of polio, a child I knew? How come?
"It started me thinking about what every religious thinker has thought about and had to come to grips with, which is how do you account for the problem of evil beside your belief in an all-powerful God? Well, the classic Christian answer, which satisfied Augustine, does not satisfy me or any atheist. Which is that we have free will and we are responsible for all the evil in the world."

—Jacoby, interviewed on "Moyers & Company" (March 1, 2013)

Compiled by Bill Dunn

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