August 20 in freethought history…

hplovecraftAugust 20, 1890 – Howard Phillips Lovecraft is born in Providence, Rhode Island. As “H. P.” Lovecraft, he published some of the most enduring and influential horror fiction in the English language. His stories include “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Colour out of Space,” and “At the Mountains of Madness.” Sadly, Lovecraft’s fame came only after his untimely death in 1937. Despite the cosmic and mystical aspects of his fiction, Lovecraft was steadfastly skeptical. In a 1918 letter to a friend he wrote: So far I have seen nothing which could possibly give me the notion that cosmic force is the manifestation of a mind and will like my own infinitely magnified; a potent and purposeful consciousness which deals individually and directly with the miserable denizens of a wretched little fly speck on the back door of a microscopic universe, and which singles this putrid excrescence out as the one spot whereto to send an only-begotten Son, whose mission is to redeem those accursed fly speck-inhabiting lice which we call human beings—bah!! Pardon the “bah!” I feel several “bahs!,” but out of courtesy I only say one. But it is all so very childish. I cannot help taking exception to a philosophy that would force this rubbish down my throat. “What have I against religion?” That is what I have against it!…

vashtimccollumAugust 20, 2006 – Humanist activist and leader Vashti McCollum dies in Champaign, Illinois, aged 93. She was the plaintiff (on behalf of her son) in McCollum v Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court case that struck down religious education in public schools. She went on to serve as president of the American Humanist Association and was a signatory of Humanist Manifesto II and Humanist Manifesto III.

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