“I have faith…in the principles of right, of justice and humanity.” -Ernestine Rose, 1861

Ernestine Rose

“If I have no faith in your religion, I have faith; unbounded, unshaken faith; in the principles of right, of justice and humanity. Whatever good you are willing to do for the sake of your God, I am full as willing to do for the sake of man. But the monstrous crimes the believer perpetrated in persecuting and exterminating his fellow man on account of difference of belief, the atheist…could never be guilty of. Whatever good you would do out of fear of punishment, or hope of reward hereafter, the atheist would do simply because it is good.” -Ernestine Rose, A Defense of Atheism, 1861

Most pioneers of feminism in the United States were Christian, as were the majority of Americans.  Ernestine Rose was raised Jewish and identified as an atheist.  She also differed from most of her contemporaries in the American women’s rights movement because she was an immigrant from Poland.  She worked hard to make the movement more hospitable to people across a wide range of beliefs and backgrounds, and to raise awareness of international women’s rights issues in America.

Ernestine Rose is one of the suffragists featured in the first Ask a Suffragist book, Stories and Wisdom from America’s First Feminists, launching in Spring 2019.

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April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series, host of the Religious Feminism Podcast and a writer for the Exponent II. For more information about April, see aprilyoungb.com

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"I have faith...in the principles of right, of justice and humanity." -Ernestine Rose, 1861