September 12 in freethought history…

hlmenckenSeptember 12, 1880 – Journalist H. L. Mencken is born in Baltimore, Maryland. He was well-known for colorful, curmudgeonly cultural commentary in which he spared no one and nothing. He wrote dozens of books, most notably his essay collection Prejudices (seven volumes) and Treatise on the Gods. Mencken famously covered the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial. Mencken has been accused of misogyny, racism and anti-Semitism, although the truth is more complex: Mencken was an equal opportunity destroyer, a provocateur who criticized all races and creeds. He suffered a debilitating stroke in 1948 and died in 1956, aged 75.

September 12, 1935 – Former Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm is born in Madison, Wisconsin. The American Humanist Association named him Humanist of the Year in 1993.

September 12, 1960 – Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy addresses the Greater Houston Ministerial Association at the Rice Hotel in Houston, Texas. Kennedy’s purpose was to allay concerns that he, as a Catholic, would defer to the Vatican on matters of policy. Kennedy said, in part, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute–where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishoners for whom to vote–where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference–and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.” Kennedy went on to win the presidency. Thus far he is the only Catholic to occupy the White House.

September 12, 2014Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt?, the final installment in a three-film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, is released. Like the first two films, Part III is universally panned by critics and earns less than $1 million at the box office.

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