January 7 in freethought history…

thomasaikenheadJanuary 7, 1697 – Thomas Aitkenhead, a 20-year-old Scottish medical student, becomes the last person executed for blasphemy in Britain. Convicted of calling religion a “rhapsody of ill-invented nonsense,” labeling Christ a magician and an impostor, and accusing the Holy Scriptures of being filled with “madness, nonsense and contradictions,” Aitkenhead was hanged in Edinburgh, surrounded by praying clergy, the Church of Scotland having declined to intercede for mercy.

January 7, 1911 – Butterfly McQueen, the squeaky-voiced actress best known as Prissy (“I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ babies!”) in Gone with the Wind, is born Thelma McQueen in Tampa, Florida. In a career spanning 50 years, McQueen had supporting roles in numerous films and TV shows, including Mildred Pierce and The Mosquito Coast. McQueen was an atheist, declaring “Christianity appears to me to be the most absurd imposture of all the religions, and I’m puzzled that so many people can’t see through a religion that encourages irresponsibility and bigotry” and “As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion.” She died in 1995, aged 84.

January 7, 2015 – Al-Qaeda affiliated Islamist terrorists assassinate 11 employees of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France. Six other people were killed in attacks nearby, and several more wounded. Undeterred, the persistently politically incorrect Charlie Hebdo published its next issue on schedule: the cover page featured a cartoon Muhammad holding a sign saying “I Am Charlie” under the headline “All Is Forgiven.”

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