September 6 in freethought history…

margaretsangerSeptember 6, 1966 – Birth control activist Margaret Sanger dies in Tucson, Arizon, aged 86. Born Margaret Higgins in 1879 to a family of freethinkers, she would work tirelessly for women’s rights, opening the first family planning clinic in the United States, and founding the organization that would eventually become Planned Parenthood. She was named Humanist of the Year in 1957 by the American Humanist Association. Her legacy is tainted by her support of eugenics and views on race, and Planned Parenthood remains a lightning rod for controversy to this day.

September 6, 2008 – The documentary Religulous (written by and starring comedian and talk-show host Bill Maher) premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival. In the film, Maher travels around the world, interviewing devotees of various religious sects, and exposing the ridiculousness of religions both powerful and obscure. Highlights include Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor equivocating on the theory of evolution and declaring “you don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate,” and Father Reginald Foster (a papal Latinist) standing in front of the Vatican, dismissing Hell as “that old Catholic thing” and scoffing at orthodox teachings as “nonsense” and “stupid ideas.” Religulous was the top-selling documentary of the year and one of the most successful documentaries of all time.

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