April 7 in freethought history…

williamchanningApril 7, 1787 – William Ellery Channing, prominent Unitarian minister and one of the key figures of American Unitarianism, is born in Newport, Rhode Island. He is well-known for an 1819 address called “The Baltimore Sermon,” in which he rejected Trinitarianism, embraced a belief in human goodness, and endorsed the use of reason in weighing theological claims. He died in 1842, aged 62.

April 7, 1947 – American industrialist Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, dies in Dearborn, Michigan, aged 83. Raised Episcopalian, Ford was not orthodox in his beliefs. He referred to the Bible as “a book of experiences” and apparently rejected the ideas of a literal Heaven and Hell, saying “a man makes his own heaven and hell and carries it around with him. Both of them are states of mind.” He also supposedly believed in reincarnation. Unfortunately, Ford was an intense anti-Semite; he published The Dearborn Independent, a newspaper that often touted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a long-debunked forgery originally published in Russia), and authored a book titled The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem, in which he blamed World War I on Jewish bankers. Ford was much admired by Adolph Hitler and the Nazi movement.

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