February 18 in freethought history…

February 18, 1546 – German friar and religious reformer Martin Luther dies in Eisleben, Saxony (in what is now Germany), aged 62. In 1517, Luther posted his Ninety Five Theses on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, questioning various clerical abuses within the Roman Catholic Church, including nepotism and the sale of indulgences, thus launching the Protestant Revolution.

February 18, 1954 - The first Church of Scientology opens in Los Angeles, California. Coincidentally, this is also the birthday of one of Scientology’s most famous adherents: actor John Travolta.

February 18, 1967 – Theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer dies in Princeton, New Jersey, aged 62. He oversaw the development of the atomic bombs that ended World War II, but later fought against the proliferation of such weapons. Although he had a fascination with Hinduism (upon witnessing the Trinity nuclear weapons test he famously quoted “I am become death, destroyer of worlds” from the Bhagavad Gita), he was raised by a nonobservant Jewish family and as a child attended Felix Adler’s Ethical Culture Society School.

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