Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899). While reading his collected works (free for Kindle) I found this gem, and shared it with my class on the “National Day of Prayer.” I invite you to read it today, on the International Day of No Prayer (just made that up, but I wonder what would happen. . .):
“Our fathers, some of them, demanded the freedom of religion. We have taken another step. We demand the Religion of Freedom.
O Liberty, thou art the god of my idolatry! Thou art the only deity that hateth bended knees. In thy vast and unwalled temple, beneath the roofless dome, star-gemmed and luminous with suns, thy worshipers stand erect! They do not cringe, or crawl, or bend their foreheads to the earth. The dust has never borne the impress of their lips. Upon thy altars mothers do not sacrifice their babes, nor men their rights. Thou askest naught from man except the things that good men hate—the whip, the chain, the dungeon key. Thou hast no popes, no priests, who stand between their fellow-men and thee. Thou carest not for foolish forms, or selfish prayers. At thy sacred shrine hypocrisy does not bow, virtue does not tremble, superstition’s feeble tapers do not burn, but Reason holds aloft her inextinguishable torch whose holy light will one day flood the world.”
Robert Green Ingersoll, Myth and Miracle, Part IX