Freethought of the Day

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There are 3 entries for this date: Alfred Naquet , Emily Palmer Cape and Matthew Sweet
Alfred Naquet

Alfred Naquet

On this date in 1834, physician and politician Alfred Joseph Naquet was born in France. After obtaining a medical degree, he studied chemistry and was a professor of chemistry at Palermo from 1863 to 1866. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison upon his return to Paris when he propounded radical Garibaldian views. After Naquet's book Religion, Propriete, Famille (Religion, Property, Family) was published in 1869, he was returned to prison for four months and fined 500 francs.

Naquet sought refuge in Spain but after the Revolution of 1870 returned to France. He served in the Chambre from 1871-82, championing the cause of divorce reform (divorce had been abolished in France in 1816). He ultimately saw passage of his bill for a rational divorce law as a senator, the achievement for which he is largely remembered. D. 1915.

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Emily Palmer Cape

Emily Palmer Cape

On this date in 1865, sociologist Emily Cape (née Palmer) was born to wealthy parents in New York City. She was the first woman admitted to Columbia University and also attended Barnard College and the University of Wisconsin. She studied sociology with Lester Frank Ward, who is sometimes called the father of American sociology. Cape became his editing assistant while he worked on his multi-volume Glimpses of the Cosmos (first volume published in 1913). She married Henry Cape in 1890 and had two children.

"Like Professor Ward, she is an Agnostic and an ardent humanitarian," historian Joseph McCabe wrote in 1920 (A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Rationalists). Cape founded a School of Sociology in New York and was a member of the American Sociological Society and the Rationalist and Positivist Societies of London. Her books include Oriental Aphorisms (1906), Fairy Surprises for Little Folks (1908) and Lester F. Ward: A Personal Sketch (1922).

As a 60-year-old, Cape undertook a cruise around the world in 1926-27. In her 278-page journal describing tours in Japan, Thailand, India and Egypt, she commented upon some "ignorant" priests on board: “No wonder their 'flocks' are 'low in education.' "

"Cape was not your average socialite; she was an agnostic, a freethinker, and a self-described 'suffragist.' "

—South Orange, N.J. Patch (Nov. 27, 2009)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Matthew Sweet

Matthew Sweet

On this date in 1964, Sidney Matthew Sweet was born in Lincoln, Neb. He briefly attended the University of Georgia in 1983 before dropping out to focus on his music. Sweet is a singer, guitarist, bassist and keyboardist who has been writing and recording music since he was a teenager. As of this writing, he's recorded 22 albums, many in the "power pop" genre, including "Girlfriend" (1991), "Altered Beast" (1993), "100% Fun" (1995), "Sunshine Lies" (2008), "Completely Under the Covers" (2015, with Susanna Hoffs, a box set of all three "Under the Covers" albums), "Tomorrow Forever" (2017) and "Tomorrow's Daughter (2018).

In 2010, playwright Todd Almond made "Girlfriend" into a rock musical. His songs have been included in numerous television and film soundtracks. He also makes and sells pottery and owns the Lolina Green Pottery Studio. He lives in Omaha with his wife Lisa.

When asked by The Onion in 2000 if he believed in God, Sweet replied that he believes in nature: "I don’t think there’s a God like the God everybody’s taught about.” In 1991 he recorded “Divine Intervention,” which Slant magazine in 2004 called “the most melodic paean to agnosticism ever written.” In a 2016 interview with Magnet magazine, Sweet said, "People see what they want in 'Divine Intervention.' If they’re religious, they might think, 'Awesome. That’s when God comes.' But I was saying that he’s not. I was coming out as an atheist, in a way."

Photo by Charlie IIevwellin of Sweet in 2006. CC 3.0

I've spent twenty years learning to live
In a world that takes back all that it gives
But I do not want a war
'Cause I'm not in for killing another man
Defending my holy land
As if there's a god who would understand.

—From Sweet's song "Holy War" on the 1991 album "Girlfriend"

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

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