Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner
1858 - 1943
"heresy makes for progress" - "Reformer 1897"
"Less power to religion, the greater power to knowledge" "Testament" 1942
British Woman Freethinker - Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner was not just the daughter of the famous atheist, secularist MP Charles Bradlaugh, she was a notable activist, writer, atheist editor and educator in her own right, celebrated in the book edited by Annie L Gaylor - "Women Without Superstition, "No Gods, No Masters" - They lived in modest style for 'placing unpopular causes ahead of creature comforts.'
She gave talks in numerous provincial cities, was an ardent opponent of the death penalty and proponent of penal reform. She was a political liberal and peace activist, and founded the Rationalist Peace Society in 1910, and campaigned for the repeal of the blasphemy laws with progressives of the day including Bertrand Russell.
Attending an International Freethought Congress after WWI she reported her delight that so many Prague citizens wore the congress badge and the pansy (the symbol of Freethought) 'The organiser Dr Bartosec was one of the first Prague citizens to be jailed and condemned by the Nazis.'
On Women she wrote:-
It is difficult to exaggerate the adverse influence of the precepts and practices of religion upon the status and happiness of woman. Owing to the fact that upon women devolves the burden of motherhood, with all its accompanying disabilities, they always have been, and always must be, at a natural disadvantage in the struggle of life as compared with men....
With certain exceptions, women all the world over have been relegated to a position of inferiority in the community, greater or less according to the religion and the social organisation of the people; the more religious the people the lower the status of the women...
On Slavery -
It was not Christianity which freed the slave: Christianity accepted slavery; Christian ministers defended it; Christian merchants trafficked in human flesh and blood, and drew their profits from the unspeakable horrors of the middle passage. Christian slaveholders treated their slaves as they did the cattle in their fields: they worked them, scourged them, mated them , parted them, and sold them at will. Abolition came with the decline in religious belief, and largely through the efforts of those who were denounced as heretics.
After her death, Chapman Cohen, president of the National Secular Society noted:- "that she belonged to that small army of brave people who made it their duty, without thought of themselves or hope or expectation of reward, to strive for unpopular causes"
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