Saturday, 11 August 2018

freedom of religion is also freedom from religion

We were a little familiar with the personage of Ingersoll (*1833 - †1899) though the occasional quotation featured on Cynical-C, whose author has happily reconsidered retiring from blogging, but had not invested learning more about the figure, who is regarded as one of the greater orators and politicians of the United States of America during the Golden Age of Free Thought (the freethinking movement that coalesced with the conclusion of the US Civil War in 1865 and lasted until roughly the outbreak of World War I—but did not get the needed extra academic nudge until learning that this day is (among a few other things) the anniversary of Robert Green Ingersoll’s birth.
I wonder what the noted lawyer and politician called “The Great Agnostic” would make of such a day of obligation. Amazingly popular and charismatic as a speaker, despite attacks levied against his character for disdaining organised religion and spirituality that did not compliment scientific inquiry, logic and humanism, audiences would pay the sum of one-dollar entry fees (nominally, around thirty dollars in today’s money but that’s a simplistic comparison considering how far a dollar stretched back then and what else a person could get instead for that admission price) and attended to Ingersoll’s every word. Credited with informing the way we understand the separation of church and state as well as reviving Thomas Payne as an important, foundational figure in socio-political thought, many of Ingersoll’s lectures, whose topics were not limited to disabusing superstition and fealty but also humility, family, universal suffrage, civil rights and Shakespeare, were improvised but many others were committed to print—which one can peruse here in full or, if you’d rather, as a daily digest.