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.

As a member, to receive Freethought of the Day in your email inbox, contact us here. To become an FFRF member, click here. To learn more about FFRF, request information here.


There are 2 entries for this date: Charles Southwell and Amazing James Randi

Charles Southwell

On this date in 1814, Charles Southwell was born in London, England. Southwell became an atheist as a teenager after reading Sermons by the Calvinist Timothy Dwight. After serving in the British Foreign Legion in Spain during the Carlist War, Southwell became a popular and prolific freethought lecturer in London. He founded a radical bookstore in London, and helped found the atheist magazine Oracle of Reason, which often published fiercely anti-Christian material. “The . . . BIBLE, has been for ages the idol of all sorts of blockheads, the glory of knaves, and the disgust of wise men. It is a history of lust, sodomies, wholesale slaughtering, and horrible depravity; that the vilest parts of all other histories, collected in one monstrous book, could scarcely parallel,” Southwell wrote in Oracle of Reason (via Politics 1790-1900, Edward Royle, 1976). Southwell boldly asserted in 1842 that “The world could not have been designed by one being, infinitely wise, infinitely good, and infinitely powerful.” The magazine, which was the first atheist periodical in England, was considered so blasphemous that Southwell was arrested in 1841 and imprisoned for a year.

Southwell lived in New Zealand from 1856 until his death in 1860, where he was influential to the freethought movement there and is considered to be New Zealand’s first freethinker. The New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists named their Charles Southwell Award after him. Southwell authored the books An Apology for Atheism (1846), Superstition Unveiled (1854), and The Confessions of a Freethinker, and founded the newspapers The Investigator, The Lancashire Beacon and The Auckland Examiner. D. 1860.

“Superstition is the tyranny of tyrannies, and its priests the tyrants of tyrants.” 

—Charles Southwell, Oracle of Reason, Vol. 1, 1842

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Amazing James Randi

Amazing James Randi

On this date in 1928, Randall James Hamilton Zwinge, known as the Amazing James Randi, was born in Toronto, Canada. Randi has used his international reputation as a magician and escape artist to investigate and expose claims of the paranormal. He exposed both psychic "spoonbender" Uri Geller and "faith-healer" Peter Popoff on "The Tonight Show" hosted by Johnny Carson. His numerous awards and recognitions include a "Genius" Fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 1986. In 1993, PBS-TV's "NOVA" dedicated a one-hour special to coverage of Randi's work, particularly his investigations of Geller and various occult and healing claims being made by scientists in Russia. His books include: The Truth About Uri Geller, The Faith Healers, Flim-Flam! and An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. Randi is a founding fellow of CSICOP, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. He established the James Randi Educational Foundation in 1996. The foundation offered a $1 million standing prize to any eligible applicant who could demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event under test conditions agreed to by both parties. A version of the challenge, similar to one that freethinker Harry Houdini was part of in the early 20th century, was first issued in 1964. More than a thousand persons took up the challenge and all failed. The foundation ended the challenge in 2015. Randi retired at age 87.

Photo by James Randi Educational Foundation under CC 2.0

“We have fought long and hard to escape from medieval superstition. I, for one, do not wish to go back.”

—Amazing James Randi

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

FFRF privacy statement