Remembering Anne Nicol Gaylor

Jun 15, 2015

“There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

—Anne Nicol Gaylor, wording proposed to counter religious displays. Appears on annual Winter Solstice sign displayed at the Wisconsin State Capitol every December.


  • Earned an English degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (May, 1949)
  • Started the first private employment agency in Madison, Wisconsin
  • Became editor of the Middleton Times-Tribune
  • Joined the Association for the Study of Abortion, the Wisconsin Committee to Legalize Abortion, and Zero Population Growth
  • Began the Zero Population Growth Referral Service
  • Served on the Board of Directors of NARAL (now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America)
  • Along with Robert West, founded the Women’s Medical Fund to expand services provided by ZGP Referral Service
  • Wrote the book Abortion Is a Blessing in 1975
  • Founded the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FRFF) in 1976 with her daughter Annie Laurie Gaylor and the late John Sontarck; served as president and executive director until 2005
  • Produced the first atheist commercials that ever aired on television
  • Edited The World Famous Atheist Cookbook (1999)

What’s Wrong with the Ten Commandments?

by Anne Nicol Gaylor, from her essay “Lead Us Not into Penn Station”

Critics of the Christian bible occasionally can score a point or two in discussion with the religious community by noting the many teachings in both the Old and New Testaments that encourage the bible believer to hate and to kill, biblical lessons that history proves Christians have taken most seriously. Nonetheless the bible defendant is apt to offer as an indisputable parting shot, “But don’t forget the ten commandments. They are the basic bible teaching. Study the ten commandments.”

Do study the ten commandments! They epitomize the childishness, the vindictiveness, the sexism, the inflexibility and the inadequacies of the bible as a book of morals.

Actually, only six of the 10 commandments deal with an individual’s moral conduct, which comes as a surprise to most Christians. (“I never realized that!” said my husband, whose background includes a total immersion baptism, both Sunday school and church every week, non-questioning parents and a grandfather who was a Missouri preacher. Happily, the indoctrination never took.)

The first four commandments are all cut from the same piece of sleazy cloth. Essentially, they say:

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

2. Thou shalt not make thee any graven images or bow down to them, and if you do I’ll get you and your kids and their descendants.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the lord in vain.

4. Keep the Sabbath holy.

The exact terminology is found in chapter five of Deuteronomy. It can be a bit confusing. For a while, I was convinced there were 11 commandments, and one had been overlooked all these years. (Two other versions of the “10 commandments” can be found in the Old Testament. One version, in Exodus, chapter 20, differs slightly from the Deuteronomy version, while a third, in Exodus, chapter 34, is wildly different, containing commandments about sacrifices and offerings and ending with the teaching: “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk.” This is the only version referred to in scriptures as the “ten commandments.”)

In essence, the first four commandments all scream that “the lord thy god” has an uneasy vanity, and like most dictators, must resort to threats, rather than intellectual persuasion, to promote a point of view. If there were an omnipotent god, can you imagine him or her being concerned if some poor little insignificant creature puttered around and made a graven image? Do you think that any god, possessing the modicum of good will you could expect to find in any neighbor, would want to punish children even “unto the third and fourth generation” because their fathers would not bow down? How can anyone not perceive the pettiness, bluster, bombast and psychotic insecurity behind the first four commandments? We are supposed to respect this!

Continue reading here.

What Does The Bible Say About Abortion?

by Anne Nicol Gaylor, excerpt from “Why Abortion? The Myth of Choice for Women Who Are Poor”

Absolutely nothing! The word “abortion” does not appear in any translation of the bible!

Out of more than 600 laws of Moses, none comments on abortion. One Mosaic law about miscarriage specifically contradicts the claim that the bible is antiabortion, clearly stating that miscarriage does not involve the death of a human being. If a woman has a miscarriage as the result of a fight, the man who caused it should be fined. If the woman dies, however, the culprit must be killed:

“If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.

“And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth . . .”–Ex. 21:22-25

The bible orders the death penalty for murder of a human being, but not for the expulsion of a fetus.

When Does Life Begin?
According to the bible, life begins at birth–when a baby draws its first breath. The bible defines life as “breath” in several significant passages, including the story of Adam’s creation in Genesis 2:7, when God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Jewish law traditionally considers that personhood begins at birth.

Desperate for a biblical basis for their beliefs, some antiabortionists cite obscure passages, usually metaphors or poetic phrasing, such as: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 51:5 This is sexist, but does nothing other than to invoke original sin. It says nothing about abortion.

The Commandments, Moses, Jesus and Paul ignored every chance to condemn abortion. If abortion was an important concern, why didn’t the bible say so?

Thou Shalt Not Kill?
Many antiabortionists quote the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Ex. 20:13) as evidence that the bible is antiabortion. They fail to investigate the bible’s definition of life (breath) or its deafening silence on abortion. Moreover, the Mosaic law in Exodus 21:22-25, directly following the Ten Commandments, makes it clear that an embryo or fetus is not a human being.

An honest reader must admit that the bible contradicts itself. “Thou shalt not kill” did not apply to many living, breathing human beings, including children, who are routinely massacred in the bible. The Mosaic law orders “Thou shalt kill” people for committing such “crimes” as cursing one’s father or mother (Ex. 21:17), for being a “stubborn son” (Deut. 21:18-21), for being a homosexual (Lev. 20:13), or even for picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-35)! Far from protecting the sanctity of life, the bible promotes capital punishment for conduct which no civilized person or nation would regard as criminal.

Mass killings were routinely ordered, committed or approved by the God of the bible. One typical example is Numbers 25:4-9, when the Lord casually orders Moses to massacre 24,000 Israelites: “Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun.” Clearly, the bible is not pro-life!

Most scholars and translators agree that the injunction against killing forbade only the murder of (already born) Hebrews. It was open season on everyone else, including children, pregnant women and newborn babies.

Does God Kill Babies?
“Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”–Psalm 137:9
The bible is not pro-child. Why did God set a bear upon 42 children just for teasing a prophet (2 Kings 2:23-24)? Far from demonstrating a “pro-life” attitude, the bible decimates innocent babies and pregnant women in passage after gory passage, starting with the flood and the wanton destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, progressing to the murder of the firstborn child of every household in Egypt (Ex. 12:29), and the New Testament threats of annihilation.

Space permits only a small sampling of biblical commandments or threats to kill children:

  • Numbers 31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones.
  • Deuteronomy 2:34 utterly destroyed the men and the women and the little ones.
  • Deuteronomy 28:53 And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters.
  • I Samuel 15:3 slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.
  • 2 Kings 8:12 dash their children, and rip up their women with child.
  • 2 Kings 15:16 all the women therein that were with child he ripped up.
  • Isaiah 13:16 Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled and their wives ravished.
  • Isaiah 13:18 They shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eyes shall not spare children.
  • Lamentations 2:20 Shall the women eat their fruit, and children.
  • Ezekiel 9:6 Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children.
  • Hosea 9:14 give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.
  • Hosea 13:16 their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.

Then there are the dire warnings of Jesus in the New Testament:

“For, behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the womb that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.”–Luke 23:29
The teachings and contradictions of the bible show that antiabortionists do not have a “scriptural base” for their claim that their deity is “pro-life.” Spontaneous abortions occur far more often than medical abortions. Gynecology textbooks conservatively cite a 15% miscarriage rate, with one medical study finding a spontaneous abortion rate of almost 90% in very early pregnancy. That would make a deity in charge of nature the greatest abortionist in history!

Read the entire “Why Abortion?” booklet here.


7 comments on “Remembering Anne Nicol Gaylor

  • 1
    aroundtown says:

    Now your race is run and your reward has arrived, a long sleep with no wake-up call from a non-existant punishing god.

    The expression comes to mind that “life isn’t easy” but regardless of that fact you retained the courage and strength to spend a great deal of it facing two huge problems that afflict mankind, religious nonsense that chains many to ignorant sub-servitude of superstitious proposition, and population awareness/control. In so doing you offered solutions to free those who suffer under the oppressive edicts of religion.

    Thank you for your work and effort, they are greatly appreciated.

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  • 4
    aroundtown says:

    Thanks for that link, it was enlightening and useful. I love the fact that the Gaylor’s are in full possession of clarity on mind but that’s generally the case for those who don’t allow religion to control their lives. Living and thinking in the here and now, results in clarity of mind in the here and now, and allows an expansion and appreciation of everything around you, but most of that goes out the window for those who trade reason and supplant religion as the main control lever in their lives.

    Oprah is deluded as ever though, what a shame, the line from her where she asks callers to respond with “healthy opposition to this new hotline” speaks volumes as regards her discrimination against reasonable proposition.

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  • Psalm 137:9 and 2 kings 2:23-24 have both been explained and they have been proven to not be at all what Skeptics make them out to be, and they have been taken out of context.

    Psalm 137:9

    2 Kings 2:23-24

    When someone such as yourself continues to claim that this verse supports killing children when it has been proven otherwise, that says a lot. I am not being rude, I am merely being honest and putting out the lies.

    I will respond to the other verses later.

    The one regarding Psalm 137:9 from ApologeticPress refutes the claim that the verse is condoning killing babies. That simply isn’t what it is saying. If you choose to not take it out or context, you wouldn’t be getting this result that you are getting, please.

    If the articles are false, then price it by reading them and then telling me where it is wrong and when it is wrong, please

    Also, if am I violating the policy then please tell me why I am violating and specifically point to the part that violates it, rather than immediately banning me. I don’t believe I am, but who knows, maybe I am?

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