I may have found a new hero.
In a post at Religion in American History, I just learned about an atheist newspaperman who I’d never heard of before. His name was Charles Chilton Moore (1837-1906), an atheist who modeled himself after his contemporary, Robert Ingersoll.
One major difference was region – Moore resided in Lexington, Kentucky, surely one of the holes in the Bible Belt. That’s where Moore started up his paper, The Bluegrass Blade, one of America’s earliest (the earliest?) papers that was explicitly atheist.
Thanks to the Library of Congress, I was able to find a few scans of the Blade online. Having read through a few, I realized that the Blade was very much a personal extension of Moore himself. Articles do not attempt a dispassionate or unbiased voice. Many articles deal directly with Moore’s own experiences.
Then it struck me: Moore was a 19th century blogger.
Consider this selection for the issue dated February 11th, 1900:
Fifteen hundred years ago, Constantine, who murdered his own wife and children, started the Christian religion.
From that day to this that religion has been the greatest curse that ever afflicted the earth.
This religion teaches that 6,000 years ago God made the first man out of dust – not even mud – and the first woman out of a bone; that God cursed the whole human race because a snake made the woman eat an apple; that God had a son by another man’s wife, and that he had this son murdered in order to keep himself from sending all the human race to hell.
This son taught that any man who did not believe that piece of ignorance and priestly lying would go to hell and burn eternally in fire and brimstone.
The Bible, in which these things are taught, favors drunkenness, murder, slavery, lying, stealing and lechery.
So you can see that Moore had mastered that cautious, non-judgmental tone that we bloggers are known for. Incidentally, all of this was just the lead in for his story about the assassination of William Goebel, the Governor of Kentucky.
Under the motto, “Edited by a Heathen in the Interest of Good Morals,” Moore published his paper for over twenty years, despite several stays in jail for blasphemy and related crimes. He advocated atheism, prohibition and women’s rights.
Were he alive today, I’m guessing he’d have a site on blogger that would make PZ Myers say, “You know, maybe you should tone it down a bit…”