May 21, 1921 – Nuclear scientist, Soviet dissident and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov is born in Moscow. He turned from designing nuclear weapons for the USSR to opposing their proliferation. He also advocated for human rights, including freedom of speech, for which he was persecuted. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975 and was named Humanist of the Year in 1980 by the American Humanist Association.
May 21, 1957 – Political scientist and philosopher Arthur F. Bentley dies in Paoli, Indiana, aged 86. He was named Humanist of the Year in 1953 by the American Humanist Association.
May 21, 2005 – The independent documentary The God Who Wasn’t There (written, directed, produced and narrated by Brian Flemming) is released. The film–which questions the existence even of a historical Jesus–features interviews with Sam Harris, Richard Carrier, Robert M. Price and others. Some praised the film for its bold critique of Christianity, while other criticized it for sloppy logic and poorly supported assertions.
May 21, 2013 – Arizona legislator Juan Mendez offers the first secular invocation before a session of the State House of Representatives. Republican legislator’s objected, offering (an unprecedented) second prayer for the day, one aimed at God.
May 21, 2013 – CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer concludes a live interview with Rebecca Vitsmun, survivor of a devestating tornado that killed 24 people in Moore, Oklahoma, by asking, “I guess you gotta thank the Lord, right? Do you thank the Lord?” Vitsmun awkwardly replied, “I’m actually an atheist,” but quickly added, “I don’t blame anybody for thankin’ the Lord.” Atheists around the country subsequently raised well over $100,000 in relief for the Vitsmun family.