February 10 in freethought history…

richardcarlileFebruary 10, 1843 - Publisher and social reformer Richard Carlile dies in London, aged 52. He crusaded for universal suffrage, for equal rights for men and women, and against child labor. A Deist-turned-atheist, he published and distributed the works of Thomas Paine as well as his own periodical The Republican. Carlile was arrested and jailed repeatedly for sedition, blasphemy and related charges, and spent many years in jail. He died in poverty, having donated his body for medical research.

February 10, 1947 – In Everson v. Board of Education, the US Supreme Court rules that the Constitution’s Establishment Clause (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof”) also applies to state legislatures through the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause (“…nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”). Incidentally, the case involved a taxpayer lawsuit against a school district that reimbursed parents for transportation expenses to both public and private (religious) schools. The precedent established in Everson v. BoE has provided justification for separation of church and state in numerous subsequent lawsuits, and is much-despised by religious conservatives.

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