May 5 in freethought history…

delmartinMay 5, 1921 - Lesbian activist Del Martin is born Dorothy Louise Taliaferro in San Francisco, California. With longtime partner Phyllis Lyon, she co-founded the Daughters of Bilitis (America’s first lesbian organization) in 1955, and in 1964, Martin and Lyon co-founded the San Francisco-based Council on Religion and the Homosexual, which included Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, and United Church of Christ representatives. Martin died in 2008, aged 87.

May 5, 1925 – High school science teacher John T. Scopes is charged with teaching evolution in violation of Tennessee’s Butler Act (which barred public schools from teaching evolution in contradiction to the Biblical story of creation), thus leading to the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial.

May 5, 1973The Ascent of Man begins airing on the BBC. Created by Polish-British mathematician and science historian Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974), this 13-part series explored humanity’s biological and technological evolution. The Ascent of Man is considered one of the greatest British television programs of all time; it influenced many subsequent television projects at home and abroad, most notably Carl Sagan’s 13-part COSMOS.

May 5, 2011 - Paul J. Gaylor dies in Madison, Wisconson, aged 84. He was the husband of the late Anne Nicol Gaylor, founder of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Mr. Gaylor also served in the leadership of the FFRF until his death.

May 5, 2014 – The Supreme Court of the United States rules, in Greece v Galloway, that the town of Greece, New York, does not violate the Constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state by opening council meetings with sectarian prayers. The Court elaborated that such invocations should be open to all faiths and should not be coercive in nature. The controversial ruling was a 5-4 decision, with strong dissenting opinions by the liberal justices.

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