In Illinois at the weekend, a light plane crashed. It took several days for the authorities to confirm that the pilot who died was a prominent atheist activist, Rob Sherman, above.
Christians were quick celebrate his death.
Here’s two of many examples:
I believe he got what he deserved … he was nothing but a trouble maker like all these atheists are … they make it hard on everyone who wants to celebrate Christianity.
Great news!! … this clown was one of the biggest losers ever … everything he did was done to get attention … he was a failure in every thing he did and this fiery death proves it ….wonderful!!
In truth, Sherman, 63, was anything but a loser. He was a warm-hearted, friendly man who made it his mission to keep church and state separate. He campaigned on green issues as well as supporting LGBT rights, and largely did so successfully.
According to this report, in 1986, Sherman started his first legal battle against the mixing of government and religion, as he challenged the mayor and city of Zion, located near the Wisconsin border, on the inclusion of religious symbols on municipal logos, material and property.
His efforts were successful and landed his name on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, on the city’s 10 o’clock newscasts and on national television talk shows, including those of Oprah Winfrey, Phil Donahue and Larry King.
He said he took up the mantle of promoting his cause across the state and nation simply because no one else was doing so.
I’m the only one doing it. Most people suffer from poultry syndrome, so they don’t take on these cases. They’re chicken.
Sherman became an atheist aged just nine, when a teacher failed to answer a classmate’s question on what evidence proves God’s existence.
Then, in 1981, his atheism went to the next level when he heard a radio speech by American Atheists founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who successfully won a battle against mandatory school prayer and Bible readings in the US Supreme Court in 1959.
The more I thought about it, I realised it was man who created God in his image, and not the other way around.
Sherman was motivated to join the organisation and eventually became its Illinois director and national spokesman.
He left American Atheists after ten years to found his own organisation, Rob Sherman Advocacy, a venture supported by his other entrepreneurial efforts, including a travel agency, a delivery service, concert booking and airplane sales. He also used to host a morning drive radio show in Chicago.
But he failed to do well in the political arena. In 2006, he unsuccessfully campaigned for an Illinois House of Representative seat as a Democrat. Two years later, he met Green Party gubernatorial candidate and Carbondale attorney Rich Whitney, and the two developed a mutual respect. Sherman joined the party and ran – again unsuccessfully – for the same House seat.
He said of a possible third run.
I doubt I’ll do it again. The community has made it clear they don’t want me as their messenger because I’m an atheist and the majority are Christian, and that’s their choice. I did what I could.
Later, however, he changed his mind and ran for District Congress during the 2016 General Election and proved the most popular Green candidate. Then, last month, he announced that he would take part in the 2018 Primary Election as a Green Party candidate for Congress in the 12th Congressional District of Illinois.
Rob is a very gregarious person, very outgoing, very friendly. He just believes very deeply – not just as an atheist but as a civil libertarian – that it is not the government’s role to support religious organisations. While he’s like me in the sense that he’s not afraid to get in front of a camera and run his mouth, it really is about the principle for him. He really believes in the cause he’s promoting.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn