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May 05 2012

All great feminists are atheists

‘The church is a terrible engine of oppression, especially as concerns women.’–Elizabeth Cady Stanton

‘I have endeavored to dissipate these religious superstitions from the minds of women, and base their faith on science and reason, where I found for myself at last that peace and comfort I could never find in the Bible and the church…The less they believe, the better for their own happiness and development…

For fifty years the women of this nation have tried to dam up this deadly stream that poisons all their lives, but thus far they have lacked the insight or courage to follow it back to its source and there strike the blow at the fountain of all tyranny, religious superstition, priestly power, and the cannon law.’ –Elizabeth Cady Stanton

”We would be 1,500 years ahead if it hadn’t been for the church dragging science back by its coattails and burning our best mids at the stake.”–Catherine Fahringer

”The tragedy is that every brain cell devoted to belief in the supernatural is a brain cell one cannot use to make life richer or easier or happier.” –Kay Nolte Smith

”It is impossible to exaggerate the evil work theology has done in the world.”–Lydia Maria Child

”There is yet another consideration which is fatal to the Christian religion, and that is its persecuting spirit. It calls in the aid of Ecclesiastical and civil laws, and the iron hand of custom to condemn, and if possible to punish those who may express different opinions to its own…Perish the cause which has no more rational argument in its favour than that which the stake or prison can supply.” –Emma Martin

”Christianity is an insult to the wisdom of the nineteenth century. To place before its progress and development a leader, ruler, king, saviour, god, whose knowledge was less than a modern five year old school girl, is an outrage upon humanity.”–Ella E. Gibson

”Possessing no proof of its (God’s) existence, the church has ever fostered unintelligent belief. To doubt her “unverified” assertion has even been declared an unpardonable sin.”–Matilda Joslyn Gage

”There is no book which tells of a more infamous monster than the Old Testament, with its Jehovah of murder and cruelty and revenge, unless it be the New Testament, which arms its God with hell, and extends his outrages throughout all eternity.” –Helen H. Gardener

”Less power to religion, the greater power to knowledge.”–Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner

”Let us inquire what glory there was in an omnipotent being torturing forever a puny little creature who could in no way defend himself? Would it be to the glory of man to fry ants?”-Charlotte Perkins Gilman

”A believer is not a thinker and a thinker is not a believer .”–Marian Noel Sherman

”Ethical teaching is weakened if it is tied up with dogmas that will not bear examination.”–Margaret Knigh

”The greatest contribution nonbelievers have made to the world has been the Constitution of the United States. Consider how very heretical to a religious world was the idea of a Constitution predicated on “We the People.”‘-Siver Queen

“The religious scriptures are nothing but rules and laws made by men. Whatever you hear from the priest, may have been the opposite to what a woman priest would say. No one can say the religious Scriptures are really the revelation of God. Men has advertised them as the revelation of God to keep the womankind in dark.”–Begum Rokeya

”There was a time when religion ruled the world. It is known as the Dark Ages.”-Ruth Hurmence Green

”It’s an incredible con job when you think about it, to believe something now in exchange for something after death. Even corporations with their reward systems don’t try to make it posthumous.”–Gloria Steinem

The great feminist Robin Morgan is talking about the importance of separation of church and state.

Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, Anne Royall, Harriet Martineau, Lydia Maria Child, Ernestine L. Rose, Margaret Fuller, Emma Martin, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy N. Colman, George Eliot, Susan B. Anthony, Ella E. Gibson, Matilda Joslyn Gage, Lucretia Mott, Frances Wright, Betty Friedan, kate millett, Germaine Greer, Katherine Hepburn, Sonia Johnson, Lois Waisbrooker, Elmina D. Slenker, Lillie Devereux Blake, Marilla Ricker, Annie Besant, Susan H. Wixon, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Helen Gardener, Ellen Battelle Dietrick, Josephine K. Henry, Clara Zetkin, Etta Semple, Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Voltairine de Cleyre, Emma Goldman, Zona Gale, Margaret Sanger, Marian Sherman, Dora Russell, Meridel Le Sueur, Margaret Knight,Katha Pollitt, Barbara Smoker,Polly Toynbee,Joan Smith, Jennifer Hecht, Queen Silver, Vashti McCollum, Ruth Hurmence Green, Catherine Fahringer, Susan Jacoby, Meg Bowman, Barbara G. Walker, Rosalind Franklin, Sherry Matulis, Kay Nolte Smith, Sonia Johnson, Louise Antony, Meera Nanda, Gisèle Halimi, Barbara Ehrenreich, Ayn Rand, George Sand, Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan, Andrea Dworkin, Nawal El Saadawi, Lucy Parsons, Antoinette Fouque, Eve Ensler, Meredith Tax, Begum Rokeya, Sukumari Bhattacharji, Maitreyi Chatterjee are among tens of thousands of atheist feminists and female atheist writers/philosophers/playwrights/actresses/artists/astronomers/physicists/scholars etc.

20 comments

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  1. 1
    HP

    Thank you so much for posting the Robin Morgan interview. I devoured the video, have done some more research, and have many months of productive reading ahead of me.

    You know that feeling you get where you learn something new, and it’s been right there all along, and first you feel stupid, like you missed something that everyone else knows, and then you get angry, because you realize that there is a reason you didn’t know, and you think, “Why wasn’t I told about this before?”

    Why wasn’t I told about Robin Morgan before today?!

    Fighting Words came out around the same time as the first batch of unabashed atheist writings that gave rise the egregious “four horsemen.” People still write encomiums to the sexist warmonger Christopher Hitchens, and for some reason, I’m expected to take Sam Harris’s latest reactionary, racist screed seriously, but Robin Morgan remains marginalized in the 2nd-wave Feminist Ghetto, forever kept just below wider public consciousness.

  2. 2
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    I’d like to add the names :

    Henrietta Swan Leavitt who found the vital Period-Luminosity law for Cepheid variable stars giving astronomers a vital standard candle enabling distance calculations to the galaxies. She would have won a Nobel prize had she not succumbed to cancer before her application was submitted. (There are no posthumous Nobel prizes.)

    &

    Williamina Fleming who helped develop a common designation system for stars and catalogued thousands of stars and other astronomical phenomena. Fleming is especially noted for her discovery of the Horsehead nebula in 1888.

    Plus Dorothea Klumpke :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothea_Klumpke

    who once beat fifty male astronomers to secure a post at the Paris observatory and was chosen to fly in a balloon to see the Leonid metoer shower.

    In addition to Annie Jump Cannon – the creator of the Harvard Stellar classification system – and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and Caroline Herschel among many other female astronomers who made significant contributions to science and our understadning of the universe.

    If I may?

    1. 2.1
      Taslima Nasreen

      Thank you so much for your suggestions. I will add more names. Please help me find more atheist feminists.

      1. mynameischeese

        Rosalind Franklin, who produced the first image of the double-helix shape of DNA. In a biography about her (The Dark Lady of DNA), there’s a letter to her father about why she can’t take religion seriously:

        “I agree that faith is essential to success in life (success of any sort) but I do not accept your definition of faith, i.e. belief in life after death. In my view, all that is necessary for faith is the belief that by doing our best we shall come nearer to success and that success in our aims (the improvement of the lot of mankind, present and future) is worth attaining. Anyone able to believe in all that religion implies obviously must have such faith, but I maintain that faith in this world is perfectly possible without faith in another world.”

        1. Taslima Nasreen

          Thanks. I added her name.

  3. 3
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Very impressive list already of course. Thanks.

  4. 4
    MarkH

    Uggh, Ayn Rand, one of the most hateful and harmful figures of the last century. Pass.

    1. 4.1
      mynameischeese

      Yeah, maybe we can just scratch her off the list and throw in Ann Druyan instead.

    2. 4.2
      Farhat

      Also really fond of heroines being raped by alpha men in her novels.

  5. 5
    Ophelia Benson

    Polly Toynbee
    Joan Smith
    Wendy Kaminer
    Meera Nanda
    Louise Antony (editor of Philosophers Without Gods)

    1. 5.1
      Taslima Nasreen

      Thank you so much, Ophelia! It’s a great help. I added the names.

  6. 6
    oldebabe

    Susan Jacoby
    Jennifer Hecht

    1. 6.1
      Taslima Nasreen

      Thank you for your valuable information.

  7. 7
    iknklast

    You could look at Annie Laurie Gaylor’s book, No Gods No Masters, which is a great list of feminist atheists. Do you have Katherine Hepburn? Sonia Johnson? It’s been a long, strange week, and my eyes kept glazing over on the list…

  8. 8
    Robert B.

    @MarkH Rand was a feminist, but I certainly wouldn’t call her a great feminist. Her understanding of sexuality was deeply flawed. She believed that the only healthy mode of sexuality was heterosexual with the man dominant and the woman submissive. (Generalizing from herself, I don’t doubt.) Now this is certainly a healthy mode of sexuality, (when its done in a safe, consensual, and respectful way – features Rand’s fictional scenes sometimes omitted) but first of all Rand denounced all others, insulting and marginalizing non-submissive women, non-dominant men, and all gay people. I don’t know how much she knew about asexual and trans people, but I’m sure she would have hated them, too.

    Second, and most relevantly for feminism, Rand held that this submissive property of women should extend to parts of life beyond sexuality. She wrote an essay, for example, explaining that a rational woman would never want to be president, because then all the men would be her subordinates. I doubt I have to explain the damage this position does to feminist principles, not to mention its falsehood.

    Rand was certainly an anti-religion atheist, though. If she had any weaknesses in that department, I never noticed them. (One could wish that more of Rand’s modern followers had read those parts, they might have ditched her.)

    1. 8.1
      Phillip Helbig

      Of course, her understanding of economics and sociology was deeply flawed as well.

  9. 9
    J-Dog

    Angelina Jolie & Scarlet Johansen are both atheists,and don’t forget Kathy Griffin!

  10. 10
    lpetrich

    Can we be sure that they are all atheists? Some of them may have been agnostics or deists or pantheists or even nominal believers in some sects. I’d like to see some documentation of each claim, like what http://www.celebatheists.com has.

    But it is worth noting how religious heterodox many feminists have been.

  11. 11
    DutchA

    Florence Nightingale? Wiki (not always to be trusted) says: “An Anglican, Nightingale believed that God had called her to be a nurse.” and “(…)and she remained in the Church of England throughout her life, albeit with unorthodox views.”

    I have to admit that most names are unfamiliar to me.
    Like to mention:
    * Ayaan Hirsi Ali (former Dutch politician, wrote the short movie Submission)
    * Aletta Jacobs (freethinker, feminist, suffragette, 1st feminine doctor in The Netherlands)

  12. 12
    betsy warrior

    Betsy Warrior, long-time feminist activist, writer and artist has been an atheist since age 12 when she first gave it consideration.

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