Emma Martin

"Heroine of Freethought"


There is yet another consideration which is fatal to the Christian religion, and that is its persecuting spirit. It calls in the aid of Ecclesiastical and civil laws, and the iron hand of custom to condemn, and if possible to punish those who may express different opinions to its own...Perish the cause which has no more rational argument in its favour than that which the stake or prison can supply!

from "A Few Reasons for Renouncing Christianity"

Emma Martin was born in Bristol, and brought up by strict religious parents and after youthful enthusiasm rejected her religion, married young and soon became unhappily aware  of the "degraded condition of woman" and eventually became a freethinker.

"Who could have palmed such a immense imposture upon mankind?" she asked "Just think of my astonishment when I found its doctrines, its crucifixion, its sacraments, its holy-days etc. had been in the worked thousands of years before the Christian era."

She deplored 'the role of religion in the degraded condition of women.' and the lack of education and work for them. Her efforts were directed towards informing the religious masses not academics and intellectuals.

She started her activism by addressing religious congregations of the folly of supporting missionary societies as a waste if money and for injuring the recipients by their propaganda. She attacked the church for its "sickly sentimentality," and keeping the poor in need while preaching religion and denying them "useful knowledge"

She was vehemently against the distorted values of the Christians of her day, and wrote "religion, with an upward glancing eye asks what there is above, Philosophy looks around her and seeks to make a happy home of earth. Religion asks what God would have her do: Philosophy, what nature's laws advise. Religion has never given us laws in which cruelty and vice many not be seen, but Philosophy's pure moral code may be thus briefly stated:- "Happiness is the greatest object of human existence..."

When she died she had a rationalist funeral service conducted by George Holyoake, who compared her to Francis Wright and Harriet Martineau, calling her an indefatigable and efficient "worker for human improvement." and "Indeed, she was the most womanly woman of all the public advocates of Woman's Rights"  On an earlier occasion he wrote of her "She was one of the few among the early advocates of English Socialism who saw that the combat against religion could not be confined to an attack on forms of faith - to a mere comparison of creeds - and she attached only a secondary importance to the abuses of Christianity, when she saw that  the whole was an abuse of history, reason and morality"

Prayer by Emma Martin

Women Without Superstition "No gods, No Masters"