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Nov 23

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November 23: Ronald Bruce Meyer (1954)

It was on this date, November 23, 1954, that American voice actor, educator and atheist blogger Ronald Bruce Meyer was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the first of three children, to a homemaker mother (d. 2002) and a utility company executive (now retired). As he likes to point out, he was born 310 years to the day after John Milton published Areopagitica, his pamphlet decrying censorship. Meyer’s entire formal education was in tax-supported public schools: elementary, middle school and high school, graduating in 1972. Meyer attended public colleges, earning an Associates degree in speech and theater from Baltimore County Community College (1975), and both a BA (1977) in broadcasting and an MA (1989) in government, both from the University of Maryland. Indeed, he wrote about the nexus of religion and government in a blog posting from 2011:

The United States is no more a Christian nation because most of its citizens are Christians than it is a ‘white’ nation because most of its citizens are white. We are Americans not because we practice revealed religion and believe in Bible-based government, but because we practice democracy and believe in republican government.[1]

He was a member of the Boy Scouts from the 1960s, earning the rank of Eagle Scout in 1973. As Meyer says, “The Scouts taught me how to camp and cook and clean. They taught me hiking, canoeing, first aid, home repairs, lifesaving and personal safety. They taught me to preserve the environment and to respect nature. They taught me the meaning of citizenship.” Although he has had grave doubts about religion and God since a teenager, he “came out” as an atheist in 1971, during his early radio days, after reading the writings of Robert Ingersoll, Joseph McCabe and Bertrand Russell. As he says, “In fact, I spent my every spare nickel on Freethought writings – I couldn’t get enough!” He was particularly influenced by the scholarship of McCabe (1875-1955) and agreed with his evidence-based approach to the criticism of religion, saying in another 2011 blog posting that religion is not helpful to society:

Singing “Jesus Loves Me” in church never lifted one American out of poverty. Posting a copy of the 10 Commandments in a school never got anybody into college. Passing laws to make abortion difficult never helped one mother feed her child. Making gay marriage illegal never stopped one divorce. Failing to teach about contraception never prevented one teenage girl from getting pregnant. Evangelizing for Jesus never repaired a rotting road or beefed up a broken bridge. And none of these things got anybody a job, or a home, or helped to support a family. Where are the churches?[2]

A member of SAG-AFTRA, Meyer’s radio career, spanning 1975-1999, included easy listening, country, pop/rock, classical and public affairs announcing. For the Library of Congress talking-books-for-the-blind program, Meyer recorded about 100 titles from 1981-1992. From 1992-1995, he worked for a non-profit civil right organization for blind people, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), learning much from its executive director emeritus, Kenneth Jernigan (1926-1998). His teaching career (1990-2006) included courses in government, but Meyer principally lectured in speech communication and public speaking at colleges from the Washington DC and Baltimore suburbs to the Bronx in New York.

Although changing his career path to writing for a government agency after 2002, and to real estate, home construction and health care after 2004, Meyer began regular, after-hours volunteer work with FreethoughtRadio.com in early 2003, creating and recording (in collaboration with Freethought Radio founder Don Souza) the “Freethought Almanac,” a series of 365 days to remember in the history of Freethought. Meyer also created his alter ego, John Mill, the radio voice of Ronald Bruce Meyer. The text of Meyer’s recordings can be found (revised, updated and expanded) at Meyer’s blog, FreethoughtAlmanac.wordpress.com.

Politically, Meyer considers himself a liberal-progressive,[3] saying in a 2012 blog posting, for example:

It’s not OK for those of us who were born on third base to believe we hit a triple, when most of us are still waiting for an at-bat. It’s not OK to think you made it to the top on your own and then have the audacity to pull up the ladder of success behind you. That’s really un-American. … It’s not OK to say you love America but to hate everything American government does. It’s not OK to stand for freedom and liberty for some. That’s un-American. What’s truly American? Freedom and liberty for all. That’s a creed we can believe in because we built that.[4]

And elsewhere, about teacher unions and “public school reform,” he says:

It’s a major PR achievement making teachers look greedy and billionaires look altruistic! Sure, Chicago teachers make more money than the low-income parents whose children they teach (in fact, so do most of the corporate media journalists who covered the strike). But teachers are highly educated professionals with a serious responsibility. Teachers deserve respect, not derision. If they are protected from being fired for reasons unconnected with job performance (tenure), that is a good thing. If they make good money, that’s another measure of respect. Teachers are not the problem. They don’t teach because they make a lot of money, they teach because they make a lot of difference.[5]

Meyer continues to blog. He is an atheist and a materialist, a feminist, opposes the war on drugs, opposes the war on terror and believes the prison-industrial complex needs major reform. And, countering those who would make flag burning illegal, he advocates instead—if the flag stands for nothing else, and “our troops” died for nothing else, it was for this—making voting in elections a legal requirement and election day a state and national holiday. But he blogs mostly about religion and has said, “If there is a vengeful God, who condemns honest unbelievers, while refusing to offer the slightest evidence of his existence, then he is unjust and unworthy of worship and I would rightly despise him.” Skeptical about a future life, Ronald Bruce Meyer says, “A belief in personal immortality cheapens life. Nobody will love you or remember you for what you did during your residence in heaven—only for what you did and who you affected in your brief hours on earth. If you believe, as I do, that nothing of your personality will go on after you die, then you absolutely must make a success of this, your one and only life!”

If you would like to hear an audio version of this posting, go to this link:

[1] From “Visualize No Liberals” AH Blog – August 19, 2011
[2] From “Where Are The Churches?” AH Blog – June 17, 2011
[3] It should be noted that Meyer disagrees with most progressives on only two big issues: hate crimes legislation (see this blog posting), which he considers a violation of liberty of conscience, and the “politically correct” defense of Islam as a religion, where he agrees with Sam Harris (see the commentary here).
[4] From “Patriotic and Idiotic” AH Blog – September 2, 2012
[5] From “Teachers Are Not the Problem” AH Blog – September 22, 2012

About the author

Ronald Bruce Meyer

Freethought Almanac was created by Ronald Bruce Meyer, in collaboration with freethoughtradio.com, in March 2003. What started with a brief notice on the birthday of Albert Einstein, grew into almost 250,000 words on not only biography but history, philosophy, theology and politics — one day at a time. Freethought Almanac looks at these daily subjects from a godless point of view, that is, a point of view that is based not on fantasies, delusions or wishful thinking, but a view that is evidence-based.

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