January 30 in freethought history…

viktorlennstrandJanuary 30, 1861 – Swedish freethought activist Viktor Lennstrand is born in Gävle, Sweden. He was outspoken against both Christianity and state-sponsored religion, and was imprisoned several times. He died in 1895, aged 34.

January 30, 1891 – Charles Bradlaugh (English atheist) dies in London. He founded the National Secular Society and became one of (if not the) first open atheists elected to the British Parliament. He insisted on making an affirmation to assume his seat, instead of taking a religious oath, but was denied by Parliamentary committees. He refused to cooperate with their ruling, and was eventually arrested and forced to forfeit his seat. His constituents re-elected him in repeated special elections intended to replace him.

January 30, 2004 – Former President Jimmy Carter issues a statement criticizing the Georgia Department of Education’s proposal to eliminate the word “evolution” with the phrase “biological changes over time” in the state’s science curriculum. Carter, a devout Christian who regularly teaches Sunday school, expressed embarrassment and said, “There can be no incompatibility between Christian faith and proven facts concerning geology, biology, and astronomy.” Apparently addressing Biblical literalists, he added, “There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith.” The proposal was eventually dropped.

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