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by Donald B. Ardell, Ph. D.
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Wellness in the Headlines
(Don's Report to the World)

Eight Female Luminaries Who Helped Pave the Way for REAL Wellness

Wednesday September 10, 2014

Introduction

In a new book on WOs (Wellness Orgasms), Dr. Grant Donovan and I take note of the fact that many of the greatest minds in history have taken a rational, WO filled view of life. We believe the sheer number of luminaries who favor science over religion is encouraging to freethinkers. Perhaps, in time, reason will overtake faith. When and if that ever happens, our species will better appreciate and look after the Earth’s extraordinary natural wonders. What’s more, we all will better appreciate the wonder of our chance existence.

Women Luminaries

One section of our book is devoted to people past and present that we chose to celebrate as “Luminaries of REAL Wellness.” We take a walk down what we call our “REAL wellness Lane of Luminescence” with short bios of our heroes. There are 18 women and men selected as favorites who have contributed multiple WO-inspiring perspectives. We offer a few of their words for the insights their words evoke and to encourage you to explore more of their life works.

Eight of the luminaries are women. In this essay, all of the women freethinkers who advanced the prospects of REAL wellness via reason, exuberance and liberty are highlighted. Enjoy these brief overviews of remarkable people to whom we all owe much.

Madalyn Murray OHair (1919-1995)

Madalyn Murray O'HairMadalyn Murray O’Hair was a champion of secularism. Time magazine called Madalyn Murray O’Hair the most hated woman in America during her reign as a leading secularist in the second half of the 20th century. Her unyielding and, to most, abrasive defense of the wall separating government from religion was as effective as it was controversial. She relished every opportunity to provoke the faithful and challenge public officials who illegally granted religion special privilege in American life. School prayer was the first of many issues that brought Madalyn to public attention when she objected to Bible readings in the Baltimore public schools.

O'Hair founded American Atheists and debated religious leaders on a variety of issues across the land. She annoyed nearly everyone, including fellow religious skeptics and her life truly was an unhappy mess. She is credited with helping put a halt to plans that would have had astronaut Buzz Aldrin staging a televised communion on the moon. She also blocked a Texas law that would have required public officials to affirm belief in a Supreme Being. O’Hair tried, like many other atheists since, to get “In God We Trust” off coins and to prevent the pope from saying mass on the Mall in Washington, D.C.  She also took legal action in efforts to put a stop to tax exemptions for churches.

Memorable quotes:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali (1969 - present)

Ayaan Hirsi AliA Somali-born American activist, writer and politician, Ali is known for her views on Islam, female genital mutilation, women's rights and atheism. Author of two bestselling books, Infidel: My Life and Nomad: from Islam to America, she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2005. Ali has several other distinctions and awards, including a free speech prize from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, the Swedish Liberal Party's Democracy Prize and the Moral Courage Award for commitment to conflict resolution, ethics and world citizenship.


Memorable quotes:

Anne Nicol Gaylor (1926 - present)

Anne Nicol GaylorAs editor of the Middleton Times Tribune, Anne Nicole Gaylor editorialized from 1997 for legalized abortion. Requests from pregnant women in desperate straits led Ms Gaylor into volunteer activism for feminist rights. She founded the ZPG Abortion Referral Service in 1970, which resulted in 20,000-plus referrals for birth control, abortion and sterilization over an initial five year period. Two years later, she co-founded a charity to assist low-income women seeking abortions; a service that helped 14,000 women over a 32 year period. In 1976, Ms Gaylor and two others, including her daughter Anne Nicole, created the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) for the promotion of free thought and separation of state and church. Today, FFRF has over 21,000 members and a distinguished record of legal actions.

Memorable quotes:

Wendy Kaminer (1950 - present)

Wendy KaminerA graduate of Smith College in 1971 and Boston University Law School in 1975, Kaminer spent her first years practicing law before switching to journalism in 1991. Her eight books include Sleeping with Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism, Perils of Piety and Free for All: Defending Liberty in America Today. She has received many recognitions of a major nature, including the Extraordinary Merit Media Award from the National Women’s Political Caucus and a Guggenheim fellowship. The focus of Kaminer’s work includes atheism and state/church issues, the harm of religion’s influence on politics, civil liberties, psychology and the law.

Memorable quotes:

Matilda Joslyn Gage (1826-1898) 

Matilda Joslyn GageMs Gage distinguished herself as a suffragette, abolitionist, Native American activist, secularist and feminist. She worked closely with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton as an eloquent spokesperson for the then outrageous idea that women had a natural right to vote. Matilda served as President of the National Woman Suffrage Association and in 1890 organized the Woman's National Liberal Union devoted to separation of church and state. Over a century ago, Gage identified the church as the root cause of the oppression of women and also warned about a danger that confronts the country today, namely, a union of Catholics and Protestants attempting to put God in the Constitution and attack secular schools.

Memorable quotes:

Butterfly McQueen (1911 - 1995)

Butterfly McQueenA dancer turned actress, Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen is best known for playing Prissy in Gone with the Wind (1939). She acted in twenty other movies and television into the 1950s. During World War II, she made many appearances on the Armed Forces Broadcast Jubilee as a comedienne. Butterfly was a nearly lifelong atheist. She retired from acting because studio executives felt she was insufficiently deferential for a black woman and so she often worked in service jobs including, ironically, as a maid, as a salesperson at Macy’s, a taxi dispatcher, running a snack shop and as a seamstress. She graduated in 1974, at age 64, from New York City College with a bachelor's degree in political science.

Memorable quotes:

Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815 - 1902)

Elizabeth Cady StantonElizabeth Cady Stanton is viewed as the founding mother of the feminist movement. Her issues were women's subjugation and religion's role in keeping women subordinate. A suffrage plank she introduced at the historic Seneca Falls convention in 1848 won endorsement and galvanized women for the next 72 years. In her diary, she noted that her beliefs were "grounded on science, common sense and love of humanity, not fears of the torments of hell and promises of the joys of heaven." She described how "the bible was hurled at us from every side" in a history of the early movement. Nearly every speech Stanton wrote condemned religious dogma. She is also fondly remembered by contemporary secularists for writing “The Woman's Bible” in 1895.

Memorable quotes:

Vashti McCollum (1912 - 2006)

Vashti McCollumVashti McCollum endured the wrath of the loving faithful, including death threats, harassed children, murder of the family cat, job loss and more, for challenging school prayer in the public schools and eventually winning the Supreme Court case that put a stop to religious education in public schools in America. This 1948 ruling remains in force to this day. Her book, One Woman's Fight (1953), was a best-seller and propelled her career as a free thought leader. Ms McCollum served two terms as president of the American Humanist Association and she was featured in a PBS documentary entitled, The Lord Is Not on Trial Here. The title was inspired by an incident during court hearings when a Bible-toting man confronted the school board's attorney, announcing that he was there to testify for the Lord. The attorney replied, “The Lord, sir, is not on trial here today.”

To their credit, the Baptist Joint Committee submitted an amicus brief to the Court in support of McCollum, saying, "We must not allow our religious fervor to blind us to the essential fact that no religious faith is secure when it meshes its authority with that of the state.”

Memorable quotes:

That’s an overview of our female freethinker heroines—hundreds more could be identified who have done wonders for the spread of reason, exuberance and liberty for everyone and all deserve our gratitude and respect.

In the course of researching the facts on these and other luminaries, varied sources were examined. However, special appreciation goes out to the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s (FFRF) Freethought of the Day feature, particularly to Anne Laurie Gaylor, Bill Dunn and Sabrina Gaylor. 

Be well and look on the bright, luminescent side of life.

======

For information on obtaining our new book about this concept entitled, Wellness Orgasms: The Fun Way to Live Well and Die Healthy by Exploring the Secrets of REAL Wellness, write Dr. Donovan at grant@perceptionmapping.com

Signed Don Ardell

(Ed. Note: Views expressed in this and other columns are those of the author and not necessarily those of the SeekWellness Editorial Board.)

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