Erin Louis: My journey to becoming a reluctant apostate

Erin Louis
Image by Shutterstock

By Erin Louis

Sid Vicious was my brother’s cat. We discovered that Sid was a female when she gave birth to a litter of kittens in my brother’s bedroom closet. Sid was my first experience with a pet and also my first experience with death. She was hit by a car in front of our house when I was 7. My mother held me as I cried and comforted me by explaining that God had taken Sid to heaven. God had a plan for everyone and everything, and that was his plan for Sid. 

I was told as a little kid that I was Catholic, although the only times we went to church was when someone died or got married. That caused quite a bit of confusion for me because I had a tendency to conflate the two events. What I also found confusing was the whole concept of God. He loved us, created us, and would answer our prayers if we believed enough. Oh, and that little pesky hell thing. Supposedly he could do anything at all, and loved us, but would not hesitate to burn and torture us forever if we failed to love or believe in him. My understanding of love didn’t include torture. In fact, the idea of hell itself seemed counter to the idea of an all-loving God. 

I didn’t want to go to hell, so I tried to believe in God. I wanted my prayers answered, so I prayed to him. I wanted to believe that Sid was in heaven, so I tried to believe in that, too. When I questioned the existence of God, to the dismay of my family, I was told that the evidence was all around me. Every time something good happened, that was proof of his existence. What about the bad stuff? Well, that was a test of faith, part of his plan. When I questioned why God had to test our faith, when he could just give it to us without the bad stuff or the threat of hell, for that matter, I was told that God worked in mysterious ways. So, I stuffed my growing doubt and tried to believe. Apparently, my doubt was part of God’s plan, too. 

I tried to believe because I was taught to. As I grew, so did my doubts. The bigger my doubts, the harder I tried. The harder I tried, the bigger my doubts became. One day I realized that I wasn’t trying anymore, I was simply pretending. I wasn’t afraid of a god or hell that I was pretty certain didn’t exist, I was afraid of upsetting my family. I was afraid of being ostracized by my friends. So, I kept pretending. 

If what I was taught about God was true, he wasn’t something I felt deserved worship, even if I had succeeded in believing in him. He wasn’t loving; he was cruel and vindictive. He didn’t bring comfort; he brought pain. The whole concept of God meant a lack of control over my own life.  The idea of heaven was a pleasant one, until you considered the requirements to get there. The God I was taught to believe in would send plenty of innocent people to hell for the simple sin of not believing. If God has the power to control everything that happens, then that makes it his choice to send people to hell. Why create it in the first place if he didn’t want people to go there? Not only had I stopped trying, I stopped pretending, as well. I became a reluctant apostate.

I understand why people would want to believe that there is an omniscient and omnipotent being in control — that no matter what happens, someone else has the wheel, that it all has some deeper meaning. It’s how I felt in my mother’s arms the day Sid died. It’s a nice but ultimately hollow thought. It creates a barrier to accepting life as it is. It takes the control out of your hands and puts it in the hands of a deity that works mysteriously. It also removes the responsibility. Until you accept the things that are out of your control in life, you aren’t free to accept all the things you can. Belief in God obstructs acceptance of the tough things that we face in life, and acceptance brings healing.  

Trying to believe brought a sense of failure, but admitting to myself that I didn’t believe brought a sense of relief. Understanding and accepting that I am in control and responsible for my own path in life brought a sense of freedom. 

But it also brought a sense of loss. I wanted to believe, I really did. I did not want to become an apostate. In my family and among some of my friends, apostasy was akin to evil. To renounce not only my Catholic faith, but also the concept of a god or a higher power, was the ultimate sin. I would be a disappointment to my family and would likely lose a friend or two. To reject the religion I was born into was to reject my very eternal soul — at least to my family. 

But to continue to pretend to believe in something I did not was to reject who I knew I was as a person. I would be rejecting myself to soothe the fears of the believers in my life who were certain I would go to hell. I did not want to become an apostate, but I couldn’t force myself to believe in something that I simply had no evidence for. 

As I learned to accept myself as an atheist, I also learned that there were many who were still trying to pretend to believe. I encountered people who knew that they no longer believed but were afraid to say so. I realized that to be an outspoken apostate was to provide comfort and support to those who still felt like they were in the dark. Apostasy can be a lonely place to those who are surrounded by believers. I knew because I was in that place. The more of us that speak up, the more reluctant apostates can stop pretending to believe. 

FFRF Member Erin Louis lives in California with her husband and son. She’s a classically trained pastry chef, writer and an unabashed atheist.

FFRF’s Greater Sacramento Chapter — Impressive project puts schools on alert

Mark Thew of FFRF’s Greater Sacramento Chapter looks over FFRF’s “Top 10 State/Church Public School Violations” brochures that the chapter sent to every school district in California. (Photo by Janet Thew)

FFRF’s Greater Sacramento Chapter recently finished a massive undertaking by sending FFRF’s “Top 10 Public School State/Church Violations” brochures, along with a firmly worded cover letter, to all the school districts in California.

The Schools Project, as the chapter calls it, required 18 volunteers to complete. 

“We already received our first response from a school district superintendent who got our cover letter and brochure,” said chapter President Judy Saint. “I took a deep breath as I prepared to defend the Constitution or perhaps evaluate any threats, but I was pleasantly amazed that it was a positive reply!” 

Here was the response:

“I just received a letter and a brochure from your local chapter president, Judy Saint. Once in a while, I have the privilege of receiving things like this that renew my hope in humanity. I am fortunate to work in two school districts where controversy around religious practice is pretty much nonexistent, but I have worked in places where that was not the case, where the religious tone felt oppressive. I will include the materials Ms. Saint sent as correspondence on an upcoming school board agenda. Thanks for your work!”

Saint said it took three managing volunteers and 15 volunteer addressors to get the cover letter and brochure to all of California’s 848 school districts. Every high school and unified district received the packet, as well as almost every elementary school district, with directions to share with their boards and schools. 

“According to FFRF attorneys, school complaints take a vast amount of their time, so we hopefully have warded off some issues to help keep their desks less encumbered,” Saint said. “These mailings to each superintendent and board of almost all the school districts in California put them on notice. If our attorneys contact them in the future, the districts cannot say they were not warned. It gives our attorneys a leg up in their discussions. Almost every school superintendent and school board in the entire state of California now know we are here, we know the law, and we are watching!”

Linda Rayle: Stuffing envelopes provided catharsis

FFRF’s “Top 10 Public School State/Church Violations” brochure. Please note: The brochure is being updated and can be read online: ffrf.org/publications/brochures.

By Linda Rayle

I recently volunteered for the Schools Project by the Greater Sacramento Chapter of FFRF. The goal was to send cover letters and brochures to all the school districts in California to remind them of their duty to keep schools secular. (See main story on this page.) Remembering a particular incident in high school, I immediately volunteered. 

I attended school in Anaheim, Calif., from first grade through high school. One day in high school, my U.S. history teacher informed all of the class that if we weren’t baptized, we were going to hell. He then asked for a show of hands of those who weren’t baptized. I was not. So, I was informed that I was going to hell.

Fast-forward 43 years, and I’m married to another atheist. We’re both proud members of FFRF. About two years ago, we moved from Anaheim to a city outside Sacramento. We’ve attended several FFRF functions and have gotten to know some wonderful like-minded people, including chapter President Judy Saint.

When Judy sent the email asking for volunteers for the Schools Project, I immediately replied. I was so excited to participate and do my part to remind schools of their duty to stay secular. Memories of that day in high school with my teacher telling me I was going to hell came flooding back.

My hope is that the school superintendents would disseminate the information to all employees to remind them to keep their schools secular. I don’t want any student to feel the way I did that day so long ago — humiliated, angry, and hurt. 

When I received my kit, it had a total of 45 cover letters and envelopes. I had whittled my way down to the last 10 cover letters, and I could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I did five more and then looked at the next letter in my stack — it was for the Brea School District in southern California! I excitedly looked through the remaining four cover letters and discovered they were all for Orange County. And there it was — a letter for the Anaheim Union High School District!

Now, if I were a religious person, I could imagine that this was some sort of “sign” from a higher power. For what, though? Perhaps because of that one teacher who said I was going to hell? I can only imagine what a believing person would make of this. Me, though? It was a happy coincidence and made me feel even better about what I was doing. It was coming full circle, taking me back to that day in class with that arrogant, self-righteous teacher. And now I was sending literature to that same school district to remind them that that sort of speech in class is a violation of state/church separation.

I excitedly addressed the envelope to the Anaheim district, carefully folding the cover letter and placing that, along with the brochure, into the envelope. I did this deliberately, taking my time to savor the moment. It was cathartic and felt like a long overdue defense of my 17-year-old self.

Linda Rayle is an FFRF member.

Letterbox (November 2021)

Scholarship will help my career aspirations 

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to FFRF for awarding me fifth place in the Michael Hakeem Memorial Essay Contest. I started nursing school in August and the scholarship has brought me closer to my goal of becoming a labor-and-delivery nurse. 

I believe every human is deserving of compassionate health care and I am positive my freethinking mindset will help me provide the best care for my patients. 

Thank you for your work and for helping me achieve my dream.

M. K.
Nevada


High school essays are inspiring, reassuring

I enjoy your entire newspaper, but I thoroughly relish reading the winning entries of the high school essay contest. It’s inspiring and reassuring to know our youth are thinking rationally and logically. 

I made note of the following quote from Elizabeth Getty’s submission:

“We need only look to the Scientific Revolution to see the intellectually stifling nature of religion.”

How true!

A. B.
California


Former Baptist now tells of her deconversion

I am a very long-time listener to your “Freethought Radio” show. I have listened to hundreds of episodes via podcast.

I am a “Baptist atheist.” To me, this means that I see everything in black and white. I was raised In the Baptist church in Ohio, which means I was raised to believe that there is such a thing as ultimate truth. Because of this, when I discovered that the bible was not, in fact, inerrant, the foundations of my entire worldview collapsed. I followed the thinking of my youth in every way. Before, I believed the bible was true, and so I attempted to follow its commands. Now, I know it is not true, so I don’t believe in any of it. 

Interestingly, the desire to proselytize has held firm! Any chance I get, I “witness” to people, giving my “testimony” of deconversion. The difference is that I never have that awkward sick feeling afterward. Thank you so much for your work when I could not afford to be a member. I look forward to my association with FFRF and the message my new membership will send after appalling Supreme Court decisions. 

J. S.
Florida


Get involved locally to keep religion at bay

I have spent my entire life in our small town of Bay City, Mich. We’ve been a “blue” town for over 50 years.  Recently, though, I have found that the religion of the long-time, multi-term mayor and others creeps deeper into our government than I thought. 

All City Commission meetings are led off with a Christian invocation. Per conversations with the city clerk, there is no process for non-Christian invocations to be read. 

The city also gave much-needed American Rescue Plan funds to local groups and fast tracked $56,000 (without a vote) to one of the Catholic-linked Knights of Columbus groups to help them with “lost revenue.” 

Finally, our police department responded to a letter that the FFRF legal team sent to them about the Christian-only free counseling system the department has with local pastors. The chief of police responded, saying “Thanks for the letter, [FFRF Legal Assistant] Stephanie. We are not going to discontinue the program.” They had three weeks to determine a response and the best they could come up with was a one liner, because they do not care. 

I am urging you, those reading this letter, even if you live in a self-described liberal town, to join the fight similar to mine and get involved with your local government. Maybe you’re lucky and the path will be easy so you can focus more on other priorities. But fighting for equal access for all beliefs, including nonbelief, will help prevent religious fanaticism from keeping a foothold in your town. I want to thank FFRF for the job they do and the support they’ve given me and look forward to victories in the future.

A. D.
Michigan


Science is daunting, but needs original thinkers

I was impressed to read the emphasis placed on science by the authors and columnists in the September issue. Relying on science, however, is easier said than done. Barack Obama confused science and politics when he stated 97 percent of scientists believe human carbon emissions cause global warming. There is NO voting in science and the majority does not rule. In fact, science has been a history of overturning the beliefs of the majority, from the flat Earth and Earth-centered universe beliefs of the majority in past to the present. The discovery that energy escapes black holes has overturned the common belief that nothing can escape a black hole. 

Einstein was once asked to comment on a letter signed by 100 prominent scientists criticizing his theory of general relativity. He answered that if he were wrong, one signature would be enough. I admire Richard Feynman’s approach to science. He liked to check the current ideas of a scientific theory by developing them himself from scratch, rather the looking at how others developed the theory.

Science is complicated, and starting from scratch is a daunting and a seeming impossible task. If you are interested in being an original thinker rather than joining the majority, you might start by reading Brian Kernighan’s book, Millions, Billions, Zillions: Defending Yourself in a World of Too Many Numbers.  

R. P.
Virginia


Contrast of essays and Crankmail is striking

The September issue with its outstanding student essays and usual collection of Crankmail presented a brilliant contrast of the intellectual dipole of religious believers and the thoughtful young authors.

In sum, the essays were expressions of reason, truth seeking, and several included empathy for the beliefs of the religious, as they should. Of course, the Crankmail letters — in all their ungrammatical vituperation and hatred — are the worst of those they represent. 

But, nowhere in my 80 years of personal and learned experience have I seen examples of the viciousness of those claiming to defend their religion coming from any level of nonreligious thought. (“Death to fidels!” is not our mantra.) 

Blood spilled in the name of religion is well documented from antiquity through today. What blood has been spilled by atheists? Perhaps in specific instances of self-defense, if examples are to be found, but never in comparison to that from religious wholesale slaughter or doctrine-mandated violence against nonbelievers including, as several essayists noted, by obstruction of science such as in combatting HIV/AIDS. Killing in the name of an alleged loving god is the province of religion. 

G. H.
Maryland


Member finds neighbor has similar interests   

This is just an amusing story. I have known my next-door neighbors for 30 years, but one of them, Greg, I have only ever had just brief interactions. A couple months ago, the postal carrier delivered a copy of Freethought Today to my house. Upon closer investigation, I noticed it was for Greg! All this time, neither of us had any idea that we shared such a deep common interest in atheism and freedom from religion. We are now meeting on a more regular basis, given that we are both retired. 

T.  R.
Minnesota


High school essays give us hope for the future

Reading the essays of the winners of the FFRF high school essay contest gives me hope for the future.

J. B.
Pennsylvania


‘They Said What?’ quote was spoken in my town

I was glad that I was sitting down when I was reading the October issue. When I got to the “They Said What?” section, what should appear but an entry from my own town!

I get Google notifications for the town I live in, so I already saw this quote from pastor Sam Jones — “A Christian has no responsibility to obey any government outside of the scope that has been designated by God.” — but it still made me gasp out loud when I saw it in the paper. Believe me, that quote is just the tip of the iceberg.

I have met Jones, and he is the type of religious character who would feel right at home in a Stephen King book. He harasses the local Planned Parenthood clinic, spews hate speech about the LGBTQ+ community, tried to intimidate the local Black Lives Matter march, and generally preaches politics from the pulpit. 

At least not all of the people here are like that. I’m not sure which is more frustrating in Iowa, being an atheist or being a vegan. At least I have FFRF for the first one. 

Z. V.S.
Iowa


 

Crankmail shows that FFRF is being heard

The Crankmail section should be retained if for no other reason than it demonstrates that FFRF is at least being listened to by those who need to hear it most. The fact that people write these letters is proof positive that FFRF’s message is being heard, even if not agreed with. For good measure, every contributor to Crankmail should receive a free copy of Freethought Today. They can frame their letter and show it to their friends, but just maybe they will read some of the rest of Freethought Today, as well. Next stop, a free copy in every hotel room.

R. P.
Massachusetts


We need to be concerned about overpopulation 

Just a big shout-out and thank you to FFRF and Valerie Tarico for the August article, “Depopulation alarmism: Future of women is more than just breeding.” 

Overpopulation and our culture of eternal growth is the biggest contributor, by far, to our environmental mess, including climate change.

The U.S. Census Bureau says we are likely to add 70 million to the U.S. population by 2060 (mostly due to immigration). That would mean another 50 million acres going to roads and development, which is more than our combined national parks. This must stop or we will destroy our country and our devastating ecological footprint will further destroy the world.

Yup, I have come to believe that we should “Think globally, act locally, set the example,” because I want to save my home and because it is the only effective strategy in today’s world. That includes saving the character of our towns. Help people where they are and show, by example, what it takes to really get sustainable.

What will we leave to our grandkids? A steamy, crowded, polluted nation and planet filled with buildings and asphalt and devoid of natural diversity and spiritual nature?

M. H.
Massachusetts


Can government ascertain people’s sincere beliefs? 

Unfortunately, it has become all too common for otherwise generally applicable federal and state laws to be written allowing exceptions for “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Can there be any greater entanglement between church and state than that created when the government, in an attempt to ascertain whether the religious exception applies in a given case, seeks to determine whether a person’s belief constitutes a religious belief and whether that belief is “sincere”?  Surely, this is the polar opposite of what the authors of the Constitution intended.

C. K.
North Carolina


College essayists offered plenty to think about 

As always, Freethought Today provided me with lots of food for thought, and in this case (October issue), it was the college student essays that caught my mind.  

Samantha Gregory’s essay struck a chord because my doubts about religion began in elementary school when a minister in my church informed me that anyone who didn’t believe that Jesus was the son of God was going to Hell. At the time, the nicest person in my class was Jewish, and I decided that the God I believed in would not condemn good people to hell just because they were born into a different religion from mine. As Samantha says, wouldn’t it be great if we could all judge others based on their personalities and morals rather than their religions?

Along those same lines, Ellie McDonald’s comment that decisions made to attain certain end goals are strategic rather than moral also struck home, especially with Keara Hayes’ essay in mind. As Keara notes, so many of the religious think that it is their belief in God that makes them moral, so those of us who do not believe in God cannot possibly be moral. However, if you are moral only to avoid “burning in hell,” are you truly moral?  

As with Ellie, I think having a personal moral code I adhere to because it is what I believe is right is better than adhering to an arbitrary (therefore, meaningless) code established by an organization that uses it to manipulate its members and enforces it by threats of eternal damnation. Science has shown genetic underpinnings of moral codes (even in animals), so it is indeed possible to be “good without God,” and perhaps that kind of good is actually better than the good that has been tarnished by interference from organized religions.

Finally, many of the essays mentioned the “us vs. them” mentality engendered by religions, praising secularity for avoiding that divisiveness. However, I’ve often seen in Freethought Today letters an “us vs them” mentality pitting the nonreligious vs. the religious. Tribalism (as noted in Lindsey Bridges’ essay, quoting E.O. Wilson) is the bane of human existence at this point in our evolution, and the nonreligious, as well as the religious, are often guilty of “us vs them” thinking. There are unquestionably evil people masquerading as very good religious people, but there are also people who are both religious and truly good. That fact is one we should never forget.

W. K.

Colorado

Crankmail (November 2021)

Here is your November installment of Crankmail, the correspondence received from non-members who aren’t likely to become members. Printed as received. 

Praying: Take your nose and stick it in someone else’s business and leave Grundy out of it. Citizens here are allowed to pray or not to pray as they see fit. Please show me in the Constitution where it says a school board cannot pray before a meeting. The church of England is the reason for this because England required citizens to belong and support the church. This is one of the reason they left England. — Kevin Stallard

Your orginazation: Want to be of real help?? Shove your organization and website down the toilet! — Craig Smythen 

You are setting the tone for slots in hell: You are damning folks to Hell. Why would you put a billboard up for lack of religion? God is real, and it is a Choi, but why in the world would you want some person to suffer hell? — Lorrie Redman  

Your add sucks: take your commercials off! you are a devil! I can’t wait until you are in hell and I am in heaven!! enjoy! — Rebecca Roberts 

Bilboard: Shame on you for putting such a billboard in a Christian centered community near Nashville,TN. One day you will meet the Lord Jesus Christ and have to answer for your actions. True believers will NEVER sleep in on Sunday Mornings; whilst lovers of Satan will not need to be encouraged. The other guy loves no one except himself. Be careful serving him, you will be disappointed. — Russ Manger

Free from God: It people like you guys and organizations like yours is what is causing the chaos in our country! Back when our country was first founded you people would’ve been burnt at the stake for being witches! Now, I’m not saying that I want anything bad too happen to you, I’m just wanting you to open your eyess to what is happening around you! If there was no God, then how did people before us get the knowledge of right and wrong? How did we obtain the knowledge of good and evil? How did we obtain the knowledge of free will? With knowing any of the questions that I asked, we would have an empty space in our head! Educate yourselves, and repent before our Lord and Savior returns to earth! — Kimberly Campbell 

God is eternal: Atheists should consider that  A L L  matter (light, energy, gravity, & all living organisms) has a “Source”, a point of “origin”!  Obviously, the “Source / Origin” is God!  Especially, when science proves that there is “intelligence” incorporated within these!  Therefore, common logic,  S H O U L D  tell us that since we clearly see “intelligence” incorporated  A L L  throughout creation, “intelligent design” must require a “Intelligent Designer”! Respectfully, Atheists need to understand that God is eternal, without beginning or end (Psalm 90:2).  NO-body or NO-thing “created” Him.  God did not “created” Himself either, …He always existed!  Mormonism & other cults teach a progression of gods, one god creating another & so-on.  This still leaves the problem of “who” created the first (1st) god??  There is only one  E T E R N A L  Creator, not two, not three, not a 1000!  …ONE!  Faith in the eternal Creator only makes sense when we embrace that God is:  eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, & omnibenevolent.  He is unique, one-of-a-kind. – Life begets life – Non-life does NOT beget life. — James T. Ruskin

FFR: you need to mind your own business. Your not even from our town. Stick your nose in hell…a warrior for God — Sally Tisdale

Phonies: Atheists are the biggest phonies on the planet. They spend all of their time and energy trying to convince themselves and others that they don’t believe in God. If they really didn’t believe in God they would be able to shut up about him and quietly go on their merry atheist way. — Mike VanderBosch

Persecution: Pissing in your mouth while you are burning in hell dying of thirst You can stop persecuting Christians all around the world get a life — Steve Curtiss

Religion: You all are idiots!! You are the people who are gonna be left on earth to burn after the rapture. What do you have faith in?? — Pierce McGregor

USPS honors Le Guin, an FFRF ‘Emperor’ winner

Nella Larsen stamp.
Ursula Le Guin stamp.
Alain Locke stamp.
Ursula K. Le Guin signs a copy of one of her books during the 2009 FFRF convention in Seattle. (Photo by Greg Gilbert)

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has issued a stamp honoring renowned author Ursula K. Le Guin, who spoke at FFRF’s 2009 convention and earned its Emperor Has No Clothes award.

Le Guin, who died at 88 in 2018, was the famed author of more than 20 novels, including pioneering science fiction and fantasy. Her many literary honors include the Hugo for her 1969 book, The Left Hand of Darkness, and another Hugo in 1975 for The Dispossessed. She wrote 21 novels, 11 volumes of short stories, three collections of essays, at least 12 books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation. 

The postal service’s website says of the Le Guin stamp, which was issued on July 27: “The 33rd stamp in the Literary Arts series honors Ursula K. Le Guin, who expanded the scope of literature through novels and short stories that increased critical and popular appreciation of science fiction and fantasy.”

At the 2014 National Book Awards, Le Guin was given the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. The New York Times reported that she accepted the medal on behalf of her fellow writers of fantasy and science fiction, who, she said, had been “excluded from literature for so long” while literary honors went to the “so-called realists.”

At her acceptance speech at FFRF’s 2009 convention in Seattle, Le Guin said: “Let the tailors of the garments of God sit in their tailor shops and stitch away, but let them stay there in their temples, out of government, out of the schools. And we who live among real people — real, badly dressed people, people wearing rags, people wearing army uniforms, people sleeping on our streets without a blanket to cover them — let us have true charity: Let us look to our people, and work to clothe them better.” 

Two other freethinkers also have been honored recently with USPS stamps. Nella Larsen and Alain Locke are two of the four “Voices of the Harlem Renaissance” stamps that were issued in 2020.

The USPS site describes why Larsen was honored with a stamp: “In two novels, Nella Larsen (1891-1964) explored the complex experiences of mixed-race people and questions of identity and belonging. Now considered one of the most important novelists of the Harlem Renaissance, Larsen challenged conventional thinking, and her work continues to invite interpretations from previously neglected points of view.”

FFRF’s Freethought of the Day includes a biography of Larsen and this quote: “With the obscuring curtain of religion rent, she was able to look about her and see with shocked eyes this thing she had done to herself. She couldn’t, she thought ironically, even blame God for it, now that she knew he didn’t exist.” — Larsen, writing in Quicksand about her character Helga Crane.

And here’s what the USPS site has to say about Locke’s importance to the Harlem Renaissance. “Writer, philosopher, educator and arts advocate Alain Locke (1885-1954) was a vital intellectual figure of the Harlem Renaissance. Locke wrote and edited some of the most significant publications of the movement, and he played a leading role in supporting and promoting writers and artists.”

FFRF’s Freethought of the Day bio of Locke ends with this quote: “The best argument against there being a God is the white man who says God made him.” — Locke, as quoted in Christopher Buck’s book, Alain Locke: Faith and Philosophy.