Freethought Today · June / July 2016

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Tombstone created outrage in 1906

James C. Jewell, instructor at Illinois Valley Community College in Oglesby, Ill., wrote this in the late 1980s regarding Martin Jenners' grave marker:

"One of the most frequently visited graves in Indiana is that of Martin P. Jenners in Spring Vale Cemetery. Visitors come to the Tippecanoe County gravesite to see what Laurie Jensen, writing in the Lafayette Journal and Courier, called the inscription that is 'his unique legacy.'

"Jenners' 'My only objection to religion is that it is not true' is a defiant declaration of his beliefs. Jenners' statement created an outrage in turn-of-the-century Lafayette when his headstone was erected in 1906.

"Thirteen years before his death, Jenners had his headstone erected at Spring Vale Cemetery.

"In addition to his statement of objection to religion, Jenners had two biblical references inscribed on his stone. The first, 1 Cor. XV, 52, from the New Testament, reads, 'In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.'

"Apparently Jenners used the second biblical quotation, Is. XXVI, 14, from the Old Testament, to reveal a conflict in biblical teachings. The quote is as follows, 'They are dead, they will not live; they are shades, they will not arise; to that end thou hast visited them with destruction and wiped out all remembrance of them.'

"Jenners' stone ends with the almost alliterative command that 'No preaching, no praying, no psalm singing permitted on this lot.'

"Martin P. Jenners remains as unique and eccentric in death as he was in life."

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