September 8 in freethought history…

September 8, 1892 – Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Christian socialist, publishes the following “Pledge of Allegiance” for American schoolchildren: I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Bellamy’s Pledge gained wide popularity and cruised along just fine for over sixty years, until the US Congress decided to shoehorn “under God” into the text.

September 8, 1954 – Skeptical activist and publisher Michael Shermer is born. He is the founder of the Skeptics Society and publisher of Skeptic magazine.

September 8, 1966Star Trek, a science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry, debuts on American television. Star Trek aired from 1966 to 1969, presenting a near-utopian 23rd century Earth: enlightened, progressive, free of racial hatred and almost devoid of religion. Star Trek has gone on to become one of the most successful entertainment franchises in history, thus far spawning six television series, thirteen feature films, and countless comics, books, toys and other merchandise.

September 8, 2005 – Derek Colanduno (co-creator and co-host, with Robynn “Swoopy” McCarthy, of the influential Skepticality podcast) suffers a massive stroke during a dinner celebrating an announcement the day before by Apple CEO Steve Jobs that their podcast was among the top ten on iTunes. Colanduno spent weeks in an induced coma and many months recovering. “Derek 2.0” successfully rebooted and continues his work on behalf of the skeptic and atheist communities.

September 8, 2012 – Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz dies in New York state, aged 92. He campaigned for (among other things) the rights of the mentally ill and against the use of coercive treatments of mental illness. He was named Humanist of the Year in 1973 by the American Humanist Association.

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