Ludovic Kennedy

On this day in 1919, Ludovic Henry Coverly Kennedy, atheist journalist and author, was born to upper-class parents in Edinburgh, Scotland. At age 80, Kennedy (an honorary associate of the National Secular Society) wrote All in the Mind: A Farewell to God, in which he dismissed beliefs on which Christianity was founded as “preposterous.” He was knighted in 1994 by John Major’s government for his services to journalism. Major’s predecessor, Margaret Thatcher, had vetoed Kennedy’s knighthood.

For Kennedy, the “playing fields” of Eton College included a stint in a jazz band. After serving in the Royal Navy in World War II, he attended Christ Church-Oxford before starting work as an investigative reporter. In 1950 he married ballet dancer Moira Shearer, who died in 2006. They had a son and three daughters.

He was known for reexamining cases such as the Lindbergh kidnapping and the murder convictions of Timothy Evans and Derek Bentley and for his role in the abolition of the death penalty in the United Kingdom. Starting in 1953 he edited and introduced the “First Reading” radio series on the BBC. Later he became a news anchor on the public network ITV. He did work for BBC’s “Panorama,” the longest-running current affairs documentary series in the world. It launched in 1953. 

He was president and co-founder of the Voluntary Euthanasia Society and in 1990 published Euthanasia: The Case for the Good Death. He died at age 89 in 2009 of pneumonia in a Salisbury nursing home.

Freedom From Religion Foundation