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Kentucky's Most Hated Man
|In 1899 the well-known atheist and infidel, Charles Chilton Moore, attended Sunday morning services at Christ Cathedral in Lexington, Kentucky. This startling news appeared promptly and prominently in the
Lexington Morning Herald.
Moore, born in 1837, was the grandson of religious reformer Barton W. Stone, and was himself a minister in Versailles, Kentucky, before he left the church, passing through deism and agnosticism to eventually declare himself an atheist.
Moore founded the Blue Grass Blade newspaper in 1884 in Lexington. He was only able to publish sporadically due to financial and legal problems originating mostly because of the paper’s editorial content--- attacks on citizens that Moore considered to be bigots (including Bible-thumpers and whiskey distillers) and his advocacy of unpopular positions such as agnosticism and women's suffrage.
Moore’s belligerence and opposition to religion and the Bible eventually earned him time in prison for blasphemy. After five months behind bars and commutation of his sentence by president William McKinley, he returned to Lexington, now somewhat a celebrity. While incarcerated he wrote his autobiography, Behind the Bars.
Moore is considered one of the fathers of American atheism. The
Blue Grass Blade was circulated across the country, gaining him notoriety among both the religious and non-religious. His position against much that is contained in the Bible, for example, his geological arguments against the widely-held belief that the Earth was formed about 4000 BC, brought him national attention. His legal trials resulted in landmark Federal judicial decisions which set precedents in the areas of both freedom of religion and freedom of the press.