June 19, 1945 – Salman Rushdie is born in what is now Mumbai, India. A celebrated novelist, his works include Midnight’s Children (which won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1981, as well as the “Booker of Bookers” as best of all Booker Prize winners in 1993) and The Satanic Verses (which earned him a fatwa death-sentence from Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, forcing Rushdie into hiding for a decade). Rushdie describes himself as a “hardline atheist” and is outspoken on the dangers of religion. In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo assassinations, he said, “Religion, a medieval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms… â€˜Respect for religionâ€™ has become a code phrase meaning â€˜fear of religion.â€™ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”
June 19, 2000 – The US Supreme Court rules, in Santa Fe (Texas) Independent School District v. Doe, that student-led, student-initiated prayers at official school events (e.g. football games) is unconstitutional. In the Court’s opinion, “an objective Santa Fe High School student will unquestionably perceive the inevitable pregame prayer as stamped with her school’s seal of approval.”
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