June 25 in freethought history…

June 25, 1903 – British novelist Eric Arthur Blair (nom-de-plume: George Orwell) is born in Motihari, India. He was the author of two of the greatest English-language novels of the 20th century: 1984 and Animal Farm. Of religion, Orwell said, “As long as supernatural beliefs persist, men can be exploited by cunning priests and oligarchs, and the technical progress which is the prerequisite of a just society cannot be achieved.”

June 25, 1949 – Former preacher now atheist activist Dan Barker is born in Santa Monica, CA. A minister for 19 years, Barker left the faith in 1984 and became an outspoken critic of religion. He is currently co-president (with his wife Annie Laurie Gaylor) of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and co-host (again with Gaylor) of the weekly program Freethought Radio.

June 25, 1961 – British comedian Ricky Gervais is born. Among his many creative accompishments is the original version of The Office. Gervais is an outspoken atheist. In response to the question “Why don’t you believe in God?” he says, in part, “Why don’t I believe in God? No, no no, why do YOU believe in God? Surely the burden of proof is on the believer. You started all this. If I came up to you and said, ‘Why don’t you believe I can fly?’ You’d say, ‘Why would I?’ I’d reply, ‘Because it’s a matter of faith.’ If I then said, ‘Prove I can’t fly. Prove I can’t fly see, see, you can’t prove it can you?’ You’d probably either walk away, call security or throw me out of the window and shout, ‘F—ing fly then you lunatic.'”

June 25, 1962 – The US Supreme Court rules on Engel v Vitale, striking down officially composed public school prayers. The case originated in New Hyde Park, NY, where a group of families sued to end the public school’s practice of opening the day with a generic prayer to “Almighty God.”

 

 

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