Seth MacFarlane

On this date in 1973, comedian, actor and producer Seth MacFarlane was born in Kent, Conn. MacFarlane is best known for creating the popular animated sitcom “Family Guy” and for voicing several of the show’s main and recurring characters. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where he earned his undergraduate degree and studied film and animation. He has written and recorded original songs, five albums of American Standards and has garnered five Grammy nominations. He directed, acted in, co-wrote the screenplay for and based his novel of the same name on his film “A Million Ways to Die in the West” (2014), which made a large profit during its opening weekend.

“Family Guy” debuted in 1999 and has won four Primetime Emmys. It features the character Brian Griffin, an anthropomorphic dog who was an out-and-out atheist. Brian was so beloved by fans that after he was killed off in one episode, a  petition to bring him back garnered more than 128,000 signatures. He was eventually “resurrected” through use of a time machine. MacFarlane hosted the 2013 Oscars, which contained a lot of the irreverent humor he is known for that is also present in his TV shows.

MacFarlane has a second long-running, successful adult animated series in “American Dad!” that has been in production since 2005. In 2016 Fox picked up his sci-fi comedy-drama series called “The Orville.” MacFarlane co-produced with Ann Druyan “Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey,” hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. “Cosmos” was a follow-up to “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” an award-winning 1980 science series co-written and presented by Carl Sagan. He has also written and recorded numerous songs and based his 2014 novel A Million Ways to Die in the West on the film.

MacFarlane is vocal in his support for atheism, gay rights and other progressive social and political movements. His frequent mocking of religion has received backlash from some religious and socially conservative groups. Bill Maher, in a CNN interview June 1, 2012, asked him what he thought about atheism gaining credibility. MacFarlane jokingly responded, “I think it’s about fucking time.” His atheism did not falter after he missed his airplane flight on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001; the plane he missed hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. MacFarlane has said coincidences happen that do not need to be attributed to a deity.

Freedom From Religion Foundation