May 24

There are 2 entries for this date: Rufus King Noyes Stanley Baxter

    Rufus King Noyes

    Rufus King Noyes

    On this date in 1853, Rufus King Noyes, was born in Hampstead, N.H., the son of a prosperous farmer. Noyes graduated from Atkinson Academy in 1872 and received his medical degree from Dartmouth in 1875. He worked at Boston City Hospital as a house surgeon, ranking first in his competitive exam and receiving a “hospital diploma” after 18 months. He practiced medicine and surgery in Boston throughout his career.

    “Dr. Noyes is a strong believer in nature, and is the author of the treatise entitled ‘The Self-Curability of Diseases,’ ” according to Samuel Putnam’s Four Hundred Years of Freethought (1894). Noyes compiled the History of Medicine for the Last Four Thousand Years and The Science and Art of Ignorance; or, The Conspiracy of Christian Ministers, Press and Theologians Against Humanity.

    His 1906 book Views on Religion is a collection of quotes by freethinkers about religion. At the start Noyes wrote: “The object of this book is to show that some of the best and most honorable men and women, as well as those most highly esteemed in public life, are on record as being either extremely liberal anti-religious, or skeptical on religion.” (D. 1942)

    “There is no savior in the world except the truth. It is not in temples, churches, or mosques. Search within.”

    — Noyes in his 1906 book "Views on Religion"
    © Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

    Stanley Baxter

    Stanley Baxter

    On this date in 1926, Scottish actor/author/atheist Stanley Livingstone Baxter was born in Glasgow. His father, Frederick, was an actuary and assistant bank manager, and his mother, Bessie, nurtured his early penchant for performing by having him entertain at their home and in public venues such as church halls.

    He served in a National Service theater unit in the Far East, where he entertained troops. He worked in roles as a child actor for BBC Scotland and continued in theatrical productions before moving to London in the 1950s to pursue a career in radio and television. “The Stanley Baxter Show” ran from 1963 to 1971 and catapulted him to stardom.

    Through the ensuing decades, he starred in and produced regular specials and series and became a successful author. In 2007, critic Laurence Marcus called him “Scotland’s mimic supreme, who combined superbly observed, written and performed comedy in spectacular eye-catching style. He is one of the true creative geniuses in British television light entertainment, and as far as comedy goes, Stanley Baxter is the true King of Scotland.”

    He married Moira Robertson in 1951. In The Real Stanley Baxter, a 2020 authorized biography, Baxter came out as gay and described how he told Moira he was gay before they married. “I told her my preference and said, ‘That’s why I am breaking off the relationship. This would be no life for you, married to someone who is essentially and primarily a homosexual.’ ” She supposedly threatened suicide if he ended the relationship, so they were married. Their arrangement allowed him to bring men home. They stayed married until her death in 1997.

    Baxter was among about 200 public figures who signed a letter in 2014 to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence. In a 2005 interview (Scotsman, May 26, 2005), he answered a jocular question about “the good Lord” looking after him in his old age with, “Oh, I’m not so sure about that. I’m a lifelong atheist. Not a believer. So there couldn’t ever be a part for me in the great theatre in the sky.”

    “Like Noel Coward and a lot of others in the profession, I’ve never believed in a life hereafter. We don’t remember anything before we were born, why should we consider anything after death? That may be thought blasphemous by some people, I dare say. Just supposing I met what some people call our ‘maker’ and we had a confrontation? I’d say: ‘Sir, you didn’t give us enough information.’ ” 

    — The Scotsman, May 26, 2005
    Compiled by Bill Dunn
    © Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Freedom From Religion Foundation