Edwin Kagin

On this date in 1940, Edwin Kagin was born in Greenville, South Carolina. In 1996 he and his late wife, Helen, founded Camp Quest, a summer camp for the children of atheists, humanists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers. The Kagins suggested Camp Quest as a way to counter the exclusion of nontheists from the Boy Scouts. Over 16 locations of Camp Quest have spread across the United States with branches in Europe and Canada. Camp Quest campers participate in traditional camping activities such as swimming, camp fires, crafts, hiking, and other physical activities, along with participating in educational activities, which include science experiments, learning about famous freethinkers, evolution and world religions. Campers also participate in a logical exercise in which they attempt to prove an invisible unicorn does not exist. Camp Quest's vision is "a world in which children grow up exploring, thinking for themselves, connecting with their communities, and acting to make the most of life for themselves and others."

The son of a Presbyterian minister, he earned his law degree from the University of Louisville in 1972. In addition to practicing civil rights and constitutional law, he was the National Legal Director for American Atheists, Inc. He served in the United States Air Force as a medic in 1961-62. Kagin was the author of Baubles of Blasphemy (2005) and a contributing author of The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America (2003). He was married to Helen from 1984 until her death in 2010. Kagin was a longtime member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. D. 2014

Photo of Helen and Edwin Kagin in the 1990s by Edwin Kagin under CC 3.0

There are Atheists in foxholes
Atheists in hurricanes
There are Atheists in all the roles
Denied by your refrains

Atheists are your fellow citizens
People who love and laugh and cry
Atheists are your relatives and friends
Don't insult them with a lie

Atheists in many foxholes served
And some have had to die
Give Atheists the thanks deserved
Don't dismiss them with a lie

Atheists are all around you
They work, they help, they care
And no matter what you think is true
Atheists are everywhere
And no matter what you think is true
They do not want your prayer

——Poem by Edwin Kagin, “Atheists are Everywhere,” Sept. 12, 2005.

Compiled by Sarah Eucalano

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