Julia Sweeney

On this date in 1961, comedian and author Julia Anne Sweeney was born in Spokane, Wash., into a devout Catholic family. For much of her childhood she wanted to be a nun. After majoring in economic studies at the University of Washington, she instead became an accountant for Columbia Pictures and United Artists. Having a knack for comedy and mimicry, she signed up for a class with the improvisational comedy troupe “The Groundlings,” where she was discovered by “Saturday Night Live” producer Lorne Michaels. She was on that show from 1990-94 and introduced the popular character “Androgynous Pat.”

In 1994 she made the movie “It’s Pat.” After both she and her brother Michael were diagnosed with cancer, she wrote and starred in the play “God Said, Ha!” The film version won the Golden Space Needle Award for best director and the recording was nominated for a Grammy. She has made frequent TV guest appearances, served as a creative consultant on “Sex and the City” and has appeared in many movies, including “Clockstoppers” (2002), “Beethoven’s 4th” (2001), “Beethoven’s 3rd” (2000), “Stuart Little” (1999), “Pulp Fiction” (1994), “Coneheads” (1993) and “Honey, I Blew Up the Kids” (1992).

Her monologue about adopting her daughter Mulan from China, “In the Family Way,” debuted in 2003. (Sweeney is married to scientist Michael Blum.) In 2004 she debuted her new monologue “Letting Go of God,” about her journey from Catholic schoolgirl to atheist. Since then she’s been busy writing and performing.

She serves on the advisory boards of the Secular Coalition for America and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science as well as on FFRF’s honorary board.  In 2006 she was the recipient of FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award that celebrates “plain speaking” on the shortcomings of religion by public figures.

Freedom From Religion Foundation