University of Wisconsin–Madison

In Memoriam: Anne Nicol Gaylor

This week, freethought lost one of its truest and brightest heroes. We are all heartbroken by the passing of Anne Nicol Gaylor, the principal founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

If you are unfamiliar with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, they are a national non-profit organization based here in Madison, Wisconsin. They advocate for atheists, agnostics, and non-theists by promoting the separation of church and state and fighting important legal battles, among many other things.

Through Anne’s stewardship, the FFRF grew mightily and claimed several important legal victories, including Gaylor v. Reagan, an FFRF suit protesting the declaration of 1983 as “The Year of the Bible,” and a litigation victory declaring a Good Friday holiday in Wisconsin to be unconstitutional. Today, the FFRF has roughly 21,500 members and continues to be the most important state-church watchdog in the United States.

Anne also founded the Women’s Medical Fund. From their website, The Women’s Medical Fund “is a non-profit charitable organization assisting Wisconsin women and girls who are seeking an abortion and cannot afford the entire cost.”

Since 1972, the Women’s Medical Fund has helped more than 20,000 women find abortions in Wisconsin. They also assist many women who “are victims of domestic battery, of rape and incest, and those who are homeless, disabled, addicted or ill.”

AHA is making a $100 donation to the Women’s Medical Fund in honor of Anne Nicol Gaylor, and we encourage everyone reading this blog to make a donation as well. To make a donation in honor of Anne Nicol Gaylor’s life, please visit their website (

We have always admired Anne’s amazing work with the FFRF and the Women’s Medical Fund. Her incredible work ethic, even in dire medical conditions, was inspiring to all freethinkers, and undoubtedly made an overwhelmingly positive impact on our nation.

You can read more about her life here.

Our thoughts are with Annie Laurie Gaylor, Anne’s daughter with whom she co-founded the FFRF, during this unimaginably tough time.

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