July 31 in freethought history…

July 31, 1921 – Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International, is born in London.

ehaldemanjuliusJuly 31, 1951 – Publisher and atheist activist E. Haldeman-Julius is found dead in his swimming pool in Girard, Kansas, one day after his 62nd birthday. Haldeman-Julius was best known as publisher of the Little Blue Books, which introduced millions of readers to works of philosophy, history, science and more for as little as five cents a copy. Authors printed or reprinted under the LBB series included Thomas Paine, Voltaire, Robert Ingersoll, Clarence Darrow and many more. Notably, Will Durant’s classic The Story of Philosophy began as a series of Little Blue Books. Haldeman-Julius published an exposé on J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, which led to an investigation by that agency and eventually a conviction for tax evasion. He was found dead just weeks after his conviction.

July 31, 2012 – Skeptic and rationalist Sanal Edamaruku, under threats of violence and possible imprisonment, flees his native India for exile in Finland. Earlier that year Edamaruku investigated a “miraculous” drip of water from a Christ-statue’s toe in Mumbai and traced it to a seeping drainpipe. Infuriated Catholics complained under a statute prohibiting outraging religious sentiments. He still resides in Finland.

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