Wendy Kaminer

On this date in 1949, Wendy Kaminer was born. She earned her undergraduate degree from Smith College in 1971 and went on to graduate from Boston University Law School in 1975. Kaminer worked as a criminal defense attorney for the New York Legal Aid Society (1977-78), as a staff attorney for the New York City Mayor’s Office and as a professor at Tufts University (1988-90).

In 1991 she switched her focus from law to journalism when she became a contributing editor for The Atlantic, although she often writes about legal issues. She is also a senior correspondent for The American Prospect.

She is the author of eight books, including I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional: The Recovery Movement and Other Self-Help Fashions (1992), Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils of Piety (1999) and Free For All: Defending Liberty in America Today (2002). Kaminer was awarded the Extraordinary Merit Media Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1993 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993.

Kaminer is an outspoken agnostic who uses her journalism platform to speak up about atheism and state/church issues. Many of her articles discuss the harm of religion’s influence on politics, civil liberties, psychology and the law. In “The Last Taboo: Why America Needs Atheism,” published in The New Republic in 1996, Kaminer wrote: “Atheists generate about as much sympathy as pedophiles. But, while pedophilia may at least be characterized as a disease, atheism is a choice, a willful rejection of beliefs to which vast majorities of people cling.”

Kaminer was the recipient in 2000 of FFRF’s Freethought Heroine Award. She married Woody Kaplan, a civil liberties activist and chairman of the advisory board of the Secular Coaltion for America in 2001. He died of cancer in 2023.

Freedom From Religion Foundation