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Jun 07 2012

New Atheists since 1881

Also – I have a new gig. I get to be a columnist for The Freethinker.

Cutting”, “abrasive”, “sarcastic”, “offensive” … These are just some of the words used to describe the Freethinker magazine, which was launched in Britain in 1881 and has continued publishing without a break ever since. But it was the word “blasphemous”, dropped from the lips of a hostile judge, that that got its founder and first editor G.W. Foote into serious trouble. As a result mainly of irreligious cartoons published in the Christmas, 1882, edition, the judge declared the issue “blasphemous” and Foote was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment with hard labour. GW Foote

But the magazine, under caretaker editor Edward E Aveling, kept rolling off the presses, to the chagrin of the Home Office and the police, and to the delight of a growing number of readers who could hardly believe that any magazine in respectable, Victorian England, would dare attack religion in such an aggressive manner.

In issue 1 of the Freethinker (May, 1881) Foote wrote:

The Freethinker is an anti-Christian organ, and must therefore be chiefly aggressive. It will wage relentless war against Superstition in general, and against Christian Superstition in particular. It will do its best to employ the resources of Science, Scholarship, Philosophy and Ethics against the claims of the Bible as a Divine Revelation; and it will not scruple to employ for the same purpose any weapons of ridicule or sarcasm that may be borrowed from the armoury of Common Sense.

Ever since, the Freethinker has remained faithful to Foote’s founding principles, and has never wavered in its opposition to religion.

Good, eh?

9 comments

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  1. 1
    David

    Its beter than good, congratulations.

  2. 2
    Ray Moscow

    Congratulations!

  3. 3
    Ophelia Benson

    Thenk you, thenk you.

  4. 4
    carlie

    Awesome! Congratulations.

  5. 5
    Stacy

    Conga rats!

  6. 6
    Dana Hunter

    Very nice! They’ve shown exquisite good sense! Congratulations!

  7. 7
    khms

    Join the JihadCrusade against the blasphemous MohammedChristus cartoons!

  8. 8
    dirigible

    Congratulations!

  9. 9
    Dave Ricks

    I like the quote from issue 1 challenging religion from more angles than Science v. Religion. The mention of Philosophy and Ethics reminds me of Bertrand Russell: “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.” [Why I Am Not a Christian, 1957, Mr. Deity related]

    More generally, I see religions in terms of a human migration map, which makes me think of more topics like anthropology and history. I hope intellectuals from more fields will pitch in.

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