June 4 in freethought history…

June 4, 1945 – Author and journalist Susan Jacoby is born. Her books include Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, The Age of American Unreason, and The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought.

June 4, 1985 – The US Supreme Court rules, in Wallace v. Jaffree, that public schools may not open the day with a moment of silence for “meditation or silent prayer.” The Court ruled that “The record here not only establishes that [the law’s] purpose was to endorse religion, it also reveals that the enactment of the statute was not motivated by any clearly secular purpose.”

June 4, 2003 – Husband-and-wife team Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell (both science educators) launch the website the-brights.net, which champions the use of the label “Brights” for those who hold a “naturalistic worldview, free of supernatural or mystical elements.” Geisert coined the term (as a positive alternative to perceived “negative” self-identifications like godless, atheist, etc.) in response to the 2002 Godless Americans March on Washington. While some have criticized “Bright” as being demeaning (by implication) to the religious, the term has been embraced and championed by many freethought luminaries, including Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett.

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