July 27 in freethought history…

spinozaJuly 27, 1656 – The Portugese Jewish elders of Amsterdam “excommunicate and expel” Baruch Spinoza from their community for “abominable heresies” (which include equating purposeless Nature with God, denying that Jews are the chosen people, and denying the divine origins of Jewish scripture). Their rambling and unprecedentedly harsh proclamation laid it on pretty thick: “Cursed be he by day and cursed be he by night; cursed be he when he lies down and cursed be he when he rises up. Cursed be he when he goes out and cursed be he when he comes in. The Lord will not spare him, but the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven.” Spinoza (1632-1677), a lens-grinder by trade, is best known for his magnum opus Ethics.

July 27, 2001 – The US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rules, in Indiana Civil Liberties Union v O’Bannon, that a proposed six-ton limestone monument of the Ten Commandments at the Indiana Statehouse fails the Lemon Test (i.e. that a government action must not create an excessive entanglement of religion and state, must not promote or inhibit free exercise of religion, and must serve a secular purpose). The Supreme Court later declined to hear the case, thereby letting the Appeals Court ruling stand.

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