I’m sorry to report the death of Philip Paulson. Paulson was an outspoken atheist and humanist and a Vietnam veteran, author of the essay “I Was an Atheist in a Foxhole“, which I have long linked to from Ebon Musings. He was also the chief litigant in a multi-year and still ongoing legal fight to remove an intrusive and unconstitutional Christian cross from public land in Mount Soledad, California, a case I mentioned in my March post “Walled Gardens“. According to a news release from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Paulson died this Wednesday of liver cancer, which he had known for months would likely be terminal. Though Paulson has passed away, the case will continue, as he selected a new plaintiff, Steve Trunk, to join the case prior to his death. Paulson’s passing is recorded in a fair and thoughtful obituary, here, from the San Diego Union-Tribune.
What makes this especially shocking to me is that I had heard Philip Paulson speak just a few weeks earlier, in an August interview on Freethought Radio. Readers can follow that link to download an archive of the show, which may well have been his last publicly recorded statement to the world. Though Paulson knew at the time he had no more than a few months to live, he faced his death with candor and courage, and remained to the very end a fighter for those precious principles which we nonbelievers all adhere to. I anticipate a long life ahead of me, but I hope that when my time comes, I can face my own passing with the honesty and bravery that Philip Paulson showed. Rest in peace, sir; you have done well, and we will continue the fight.