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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Rose, Ernestine Louise Lasmond Potovsky (1810- 1869)

"I asked God if it was a sin and He didn't say anything."

"If God is pleased in making you sick and unhappy, I hate God."

"And when your minister asks you for money for missionary purposes, tell him there are higher, and holier, and nobler missions to be performed at home. When he asks for colleges to educate ministers, tell him you must educate woman, that she may do away with the necessity of ministers, so that they may be able to go to some useful employment."

-- Ernastine L. Rose


Ernestine Louise Rose was a Polish-born Individualist Feminist, Abolitionist, Freethinker, atheist, and spoke out freely against bigotry and prejudice.

Ernestine L. Rose, one of the major intellectual forces behind then women's rights movement in nineteenth-century America was the target of much scorn. A minister in Charleston, South Carolina, forbade his congregation to listen to "this female devil." The editor of a small newspaper in Maine wrote "It would be shameful to listen to this woman, a thousand times below a prostitute."

Rose chafed at her parents' Jewish religion at an early age. She left home at age seventeen, she first traveled to Berlin.

Some of her quotes are as follows:

It is an interesting and demonstrable fact, that all children are atheists and were religion not inculcated into their minds, they would remain so.

Emancipation from every kind of bondage is my principle. I go for recognition of human rights, without distinction of sect, party, sex, or color.

Agitate! Agitate! Ought to be the motto of every reformer.... Agitation is the opposite of stagnation -- the one is life, the other death.

Ignorance is the evil -- knowledge will be the remedy. Knowledge not of what sort of beings we shall be hereafter, or what is beyond the skies, but a knowledge pertaining to terra firma, and we may have all the power, goodness and love that we have been taught belongs to God himself.

For my part, I see no need to appeal to any written authority, particularly when it is so obscure and indefinite as to admit different interpretations. When the inhabitants of Boston converted their harbor into a teapot rather than submit to unjust taxes, they did not go to the Bible for their authority; for if they had, they would have been told from the same authority to "give unto Caesar what belonged to Caesar." Had the people, when they rose in the might of their right to throw off the British yoke, appealed to the Bible for authority, it would have answered them, "Submit to the powers that be, for they are from God," No! on Human Rights and Freedom, on a subject that is as self-evident as that two and two make four, there is no need of any written authority.

As we believe our case to be based on truth, we know it can bear the test of reason, and, like gold doubly refined, will come out purer and brighter from the fiery ordeal. The young man [a male opponent in the audience] ... based his principal argument against us, "Because," said he, "you can bring no authority from revelation or from nature." ... It is true we do not go to revelations written in books; but ours is older than all books, ... That revelation is no less than the living, breathing, thinking, feeling, acting revelation manifested in the nature of woman. In her manifold powers, capacities, needs, hopes, and aspirations, lies her title-deed, and whether that revelation was written by nature or nature's God, matters not, for here it is. No one can disprove it. No one can bring an older, broader, higher, and more sacred basis for human rights. Do you tell me what Paul or Peter says on the subject? Then again I reply that our claims do not rest on the opinions of any one, not even on those of Paul and Peter, for they are older than they. Books and opinions, no matter from whom they came, if they are in opposition to human rights, are nothing but dead letters.

All that I can tell you is, that I used my humble powers to the uttermost, and raised my voice in behalf of Human Rights in general, and the elevation and Rights of Woman in particular, nearly all my life.... Yet in spite of hardships, for it was not easy to travel at that time as now; and the expense, as I never made a charge or took up a collection, I look back to that time, when a stranger and alone, I went from place to place, in high-ways and by-ways, did the work and paid my bills with great pleasure and satisfaction; for the cause gained ground, and in spite of heresies I had always good audiences, attentive listeners, and was well received wherever I went.

 
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