Longtime Atheist Activist Rob Sherman Has Died in a Plane Crash

***Update*** (12/12/16): Rob Sherman has been identified as the man who died in the plane crash. The title of this post now reflects that.

Sherman, 63, of Poplar Grove, was identified Monday after a forensic dental examination, according to a news release from the McHenry County Coroner. The autopsy revealed Sherman died from multiple crush injuries due to the airplane crash.

The Daily Herald has a comprehensive obituary right here.

A small plane belonging to longtime atheist activist Rob Sherman crashed last night in the city of Marengo, Illinois, killing the pilot on board. Authorities have not yet definitively identified the 63-year-old Sherman as the pilot.

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For several years, peaking about a decade ago, Sherman was a media fixture in Chicago for his frequent church/state separation lawsuits. He even helped his daughter sue the state (unsuccessfully) after legislators passed a “Silent Reflection and Student Prayer Act,” mandating a moment of silence in public school classrooms. At one point, his mouth got him in trouble even with liberal allies; Keith Olbermann once called him the “Worst Person in the World.”

Most famously, perhaps, Sherman alleged in 1987 that President George H. W. Bush said to him, “I don’t know that atheists should be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic. This is one nation under God.” There was no audio or video of that statement and it was never confirmed by anyone else. However, that quotation has been repeated in many atheist circles.

Sherman was once a national spokesperson for American Atheists. In response to news of his apparent death, President David Silverman told me, “I’ll miss him. He was a remarkable person and a great activist. Our movement has lost an asset.”

In 2007, Sherman inherited “a multimillion-dollar amount … more money than I can ever spend.” It gave him the freedom to fly a lot more, something he always loved.

He was a Green Party nominee for Congress this year, though he didn’t win the race. Sherman’s platform included a strong stance on secular government:

No more God on our money. No more God in the Pledge. It’s time for the federal government to stop bullying atheists that way. Eliminate Christmas as a federal holiday. Christians want to put Christ back into Christmas. That won’t happen as long as the government is involved. When the government is involved, Christmas has to be bland, generic and secular. Christians want Christmas to be religious. You do that by getting the government out of Christmas. Also, I will sponsor legislation to eliminate the National Day of Prayer. The government has no business telling us when to pray or if we should pray since, when you pray, Nobody is listening. Nobody lives in Heaven.

This post will be updated as more information comes in.

(Portions of this article were published earlier. Thanks to Brian for the link)

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