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: Penn Jillette and Rosa Luxemburg
Penn Jillette

Penn Jillette

On this date in 1955, Penn Jillette was born in Greenfield, Mass. After high school, he attended Ringling Brother's Clown College for a year in 1973. In 1975, he first worked with silent magician Teller (his legal name) as part of an act called The Asparagus Valley Cultural society. The two have been collaborating ever since as Penn & Teller, and are widely known as magicians who also do comedy and skepticism. They gained critical acclaim for their off-Broadway show in 1985, and have since had two Broadway runs, the first in 1987, and toured the country extensively throughout the 1990s. Since 2001, they have had a long-term gig at the Rio in Las Vegas. Penn has been outspoken about many of his views, including atheism and political views such as libertarianism, for much of his career. Teller traditionally stays mute during their magic acts.

The duo started hosting a documentary on Showtime in 2003 called “Penn & Teller: Bullshit!” On the show, Teller continued to not talk, while Penn provided commentary. The stated aim was to debunk myths and share the truth with the public, often through a combination of interviews, narration and other documentary techniques. The hosts presented a skeptical viewpoint on every subject covered. Some topics covered were especially relevant to religion and freethought, for example, the episodes “Creationism” (2003), “The Bible: Fact or Fiction?” (2004), and “Holier Than Thou” (2005), which criticized Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. Their TV show "Fool Us" first aired in 2011 and had repeat seasons in 2015-18. Jillette has published eight books, including the bestselling God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales (2011).

In their stage shows, they debunk supernaturalism, as well as explaining some of their magic tricks. Penn & Teller were presented with the Freedom From Religion Foundation's Emperor Has No Clothes Award by mail in 2003, for their “plain speaking” on the shortcomings of religion.

“Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.”

—Penn Jillette, “There Is No God,” NPR's "This I Believe" series, Nov. 21, 2005

Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski; Photo by S_Bukley,

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg

On this date in 1871, Rosa Luxemburg was born in Russian Poland to a middle-class Jewish family. A revolutionary agitator by her teens, she moved to Zurich, in part to avoid possible imprisonment. She studied at the University of Zurich, receiving her doctorate in 1898. From Warsaw, Luxemburg tried to help the Russian revolution. She wrote more than 700 pamphlets, articles, speeches and books, advocating mass strikes by proletariats. She was in and out of prison, once for advocating during World War I that German soldiers turn their guns upon the government and overthrow it. In 1919 she and two leaders of the German Communist Party, which Luxemburg helped found, were arrested. She was knocked out, shot to death and thrown in a canal.

Although socialism, not freethought, was her life's passion, she wrote the article "Socialism and the Churches" in 1905, first published by the Polish Social Democratic Party. Luxemburg, who strongly believed in freedom of conscience, sought to show that the church, originally considered a refuge for workers, was now clearly oppressing them. D. 1919.

“The clergy, no less than the capitalist class, lives on the backs of the people, profits from the degradation, the ignorance and the oppression of the people. ”

—Rosa Luxemburg, "Socialism and the Churches," 1905

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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