Clara Barton Was
We had issued a dispatch warning of scam artists posing as donation stations for the American Red Cross. In this dispatch, Cliff stated that Clara Barton was "openly atheistic." We thank Frances Prevas for straightening us out on this matter, and nudging us toward agnosticism regarding Barton's lack of theism.
I did a web search. The UUs [Unitarian-Universalists] claim Clara Barton:
It sounds to me like she might have been a Deist of some sort, but not an atheist.
Here's a quote:
Clara Barton and her parents attended the Universalist Church in Oxford, Massachusetts. In 1905 she wrote a statement of her religious beliefs to her friend, Mrs. Norman Thrasher, Lakewood, Ohio.
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine"
To: "Frances Prevas"
Subject: Re: Clara Barton
Date: September 13, 2001 10:06 AM
Being of Unitarian stock, it is my understanding that UU has always accepted atheists (Madalyn Murray O'Hair's initial denunciation of them as she fled west to California and ultimately Hawaii notwithstanding). I think it is possible to be either or both and still lack a god belief.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, in Women Without Superstition, lists her as a "freethinker," which again may indicate either theism or atheism. I have heard from other sources that she was an atheist, but cannot trust them implicitly. Joseph McCabe, in his Dictionary of Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Freethinkers, says the following:
She was a farmer's daughter, a shy sensitive, slight little woman (5 feet in height) who worked so heroically amongst the wounded in the Civil War that she was called "the Angel of the Battlefield." General Miles said that she was "the greatest humanitarian the world had ever known." The rest of her life was devoted to work for the Red Cross, which she introduced into America, and other reforms. The Dictionary of American Biography admits that "she was brought in the Universalist Church but was never a Church member."
A clear statement from her, later in life, that she believed in the existence of a deity would of course show her not to have been an atheist. This statement where she longs to become once again a member of the Church "praising God" could be such a statement: I am not going to assert or suggest otherwise, but neither do I consider it a clear-cut and definitive confession of faith. But in lieu of such a statement, I must retract my claim that she was, in fact, an atheist and must now say that she was, at minimum, a freethinker and my knowledge does not extend beyond that at this time.
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