I’m reading a little book published in 1982: Vision and Realism: a hundred years of The Freethinker, by Jim Herrick.
There are some things that sound very familiar, amusingly so.
Foote joined with G.J. Holyoake when the two of them started the Secularist in 1876. They parted after two months, differing over the extent to which religion should be attacked…[p 6]
Oh yes? So it’s not just us, and it’s not just Paul Kurtz and Madalyn Murray O’Hair. It feels vaguely reassuring to know that.
The extent to which freethought journals should be aggressively anti-Christian was – and has remained – contentious. [p 9]
And in Foote’s case it was so contentious that he was sent to prison for a year for “blasphemy.”
In criticising religion by ridicule and sarcasm, Foote was defying a longstanding taboo. He challenged the assumption, which even respectable agnostics held, that religious views should be treated with reverence. He sought to establish that religion is a social phenomenon which should be open to the same range of comment, from vigorous intellectual analysis to polemical jibes, as other aspects of human behaviour. [p 10]