March 31 in freethought history…

March 31, 1858 – Freethinker and peace activist Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner is born in London, England. She wrote an extensive biography of her father, Charles Bradlaugh, the United Kingdom’s first openly atheistic Member of Parliament and founder of the National Secular Society. Bonner was active in the secular and freethought movements, and served as chair of the short-lived Rationalist Peace Society. She died in 1935, aged 77.

March 31, 1895 - American author Vardis Fisher is born in Annis, Idaho. He was best known for novels set in the Old West, including Mountain Man, the basis for the 1972 Robert Redford film Jeremiah Johnson. Fisher also wrote an impressively researched 12-novel series Testament of Man (out of print and hard to find), which traced human evolution and civilization from the time of Australopithecus to the mid-20th century. Although raised in the Mormon tradition, Fisher “never failed to talk and write about atheism. Never failed to say he was an atheist and was proud of his atheism.” After his death in 1968, his widow Opal Fisher engaged in a struggle with Mormon academics over whether Vardis should be remembered as an atheist or a Mormon.

March 31, 1940 – Barney Frank, who represented Massachusetts’ 4th District in the US House of Representatives from 1981-2013, is born in Bayonne, New Jersey. In 1987 he became the first American politican at the national level to declare his homosexuality voluntarily. Since leaving office, Frank has also announced that he is an atheist. He was named Humanist of the Year in 2014 by the American Humanist Association.

March 31, 1969 – Atheist activist Matt Dillahunty is born in Kansas City, Missouri. He has been the host of The Atheist Experience television show since 2005, served as president of the Atheist Community of Austin (Texas), and has engaged in numerous public debates.



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