Katha Pollitt

On this date in 1949, writer and atheist Katha Pollitt was born in New York City. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard and a master of fine arts from Columbia University. The Washington Post calls her stellar "Subject to Debate" column, which has been published by The Nation biweekly since 1994, "the best place to go for original thinking on the left." Pollitt has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship for her poetry. Her 1982 book, Antarctic Traveller, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Grand Street, Yale Review, Poetry and Antaeus. A collection of her writings, Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism, was published by Knopf in 1994. The title was an ode to Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote: "I wish to see women neither heroines nor brutes, but reasonable creatures." Katha's second book of essays, Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture, was published in 2001. Signature columns include "Catholic Bashing?," "Heaven Can Wait," "Get Thee Behind Me, Disney," "Vouching Toward Bethlehem," and "Of Toes & Men," in which she wrote: "You'd think by now politicians would realize that promoting family values is like wearing a Kick Me sign on your back." Katha Pollitt's piece de resistance was her column titled "Freedom From Religion, Si! " appearing in 2000 about Lieberman, et. al. After Katha was named "Freethought Heroine of the Year" by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 1995, she wrote about the convention in a column called "No God, No Master." Katha forthrightly volunteers her atheism, and defends rationalism and the separation of church and state in her columns, during interviews and on national TV programs. Her outspoken, official dissent from the "official American civic religion" brought her the Foundation's "Emperor Has No Clothes Award" in 2001.

“The question is, will the rest of America get fed up with fundamentalists before the fundamentalists and the Republican party get fed up with each other? And how much damage will they do before that happy day arrives?”

—-Katha Pollitt, acceptance speech, "Freethought Heroine 1995," Freedom From Religion Foundation, Sept. 29, 1995

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; Photo by Brent Nicastro

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