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: Janet Jeppson Asimov and Lawrence Lader
Janet Jeppson Asimov

Janet Jeppson Asimov

On this date in 1926, humanist Janet Opal Asimov (née Jeppson), was born into a Mormon family in Ashland, Pa. While known for her fiction writing, science columns and accomplishments in psychiatry and psychoanalysis, her marriage to Isaac Asimov in 1973 added further prominence. She enrolled at Wellesley College, where "I came to think of death as a disorganization of the patterns called living with nothing supernatural left over,” according to The Humanist (March 4, 2019).

She earned a B.A. degree from Stanford University, an M.D. degree from New York University Medical School and in 1960 graduated from the William Alanson White Institute of Psychoanalysis, where she continued to work until 1986. After her marriage she practiced psychiatry as Janet O. Jeppson and published medical papers under that name.

Her first story was published in The Saint Mystery Magazine in 1966. She would eventually publish 27 works, including six novels, and switched to her married name to co-write science fiction with Isaac. They released the young-adult novel Norby, the Mixed-Up Robot in 1983 and followed it with nine others in the Norby Chronicles series. He was later quoted that despite the joint byline, she did 90% of the work. After his death in 1992, she took over writing his syndicated Los Angeles Times science column. She died in New York in February 2019 at age 92.

Chris Johnson © photo, cropped; used with permission.

"I think one reason believers have hidden depression is that in the effort to ensure that they and their loved ones live forever, they don’t really live in the present. They worry about past sins and future punishments or rewards. They even louse up the environment because only heaven matters.”

—Janet Asimov, quoted in "A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God" by Chris Johnson (2013)

Compiled by Bill Dunn

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Lawrence Lader

Lawrence Lader

On this date in 1919, Lawrence Lader was born in New York City. He graduated from Harvard University in 1941 and later served during World War II. Lader was a writer and journalist who worked for Reader’s Digest and The New Republic and wrote many books about abortion rights. His 1966 book Abortion was among the first major works published about the then-taboo subject. It was influential in the Roe v. Wade decision: The Supreme Court cited Abortion numerous times in its decision.

Lader co-founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now NARAL Pro-Choice America). Lader’s other titles include The Margaret Sanger Story and the Fight for Birth Control (1955) and Bold Brahmins: New England’s War Against Slavery, 1831-63 (1973). He and his wife, Joan Summers Lader, had a daughter, Wendy.

According to Anne Nicol Gaylor, co-founder of FFRF who served with Lader on the NARAL board of directors, Lader was a freethinker. In 1987 he published Politics, Power, and the Church: The Catholic Crisis and Its Challenge to American Pluralism. Lader wrote, “The Catholic hierarchy still rejects pluralism when many of its moral beliefs and dogma are in dispute. Through legislation on divorce, school prayer, abortion, and a host of issues, it has sought to legalize its moral codes.”

Lader was awarded FFRF’s Freethought Pioneer Award in 1989 for his 1988–89 lawsuit against the Catholic Church, which asked for the church’s tax-exempt status to be removed because of its political lobbying. The lawsuit was lost on standing. He died of colon cancer in 2006.

“Catholic power, allied with Fundamentalism, has threatened the American tenet of church-state separation and shaken the fragile balance of our pluralistic society.”

—Lader, "Politics, Power and the Church" (1987)

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

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