J.M. Robertson

On this date in 1856, John Mackinnon (J.M.) Robertson was born on the Isle of Arran, Scotland. He left school at 13, joined the staff of the Edinburgh Evening News in 1878, and several years later moved to London so he could work on the National Reformer, Charles Bradlaugh's publication, which he edited it until 1893. That year Robertson founded the Free Review, which he published for two years. He lectured in the United States in 1897- 1898. In 1900, Robertson traveled to South Africa to report on martial law for the Morning Leader. From 1906 to 1918 he served in Parliament. Robertson specialized in comparative mythology, and believed Jesus never existed. He wrote Christianity and Mythology (1900) and Pagan Christs (1903), still influential works. Other books include Short History of Christianity (1902) and Short History of Freethought (2 volumes, 1915). His expertise extended to economics, linguistics and politics. "No man has rendered higher service to British Rationalism in the last four decades, and few, especially among self-educated men, have attained such reputable command of so many branches of culture," wrote freethought historian Joseph McCabe in 1920. D. 1933.

“Petronius was surely right in saying Fear made the gods. In primitive times fear of the unknown was normal; gratitude to an unknown was impossible.”

—J.M. Robertson, Pagan Christs, 1903

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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