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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jonathan Worth Daniels, March 9-11, 1977. Interview A-0313. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Southern fears of atheism in the early twentieth century

Daniels discusses how his atheism impacted his writing. He explains how atheism served as the anathema that communism later became because it was viewed as a tool to destroy southern youth culture.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jonathan Worth Daniels, March 9-11, 1977. Interview A-0313. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JONATHAN WORTH DANIELS:
I was an atheist, you see. And in those days atheism served for what communism serves now. Our parents weren't disturbed about the communists destroying youth; they were disturbed by religious dissenters destroying youth. And I guess I never was much of a believer in absolute authority. For instance, I'm one of the first people, and one of the few, I guess, who recognized Horace Williams as a complete fraud. He wasn't God, as a lot of them thought he was. Anyhow, I wrote this book— and I read it here not long ago; it's a nice little part of your juvenalia—about the fall of the angels. Soon after my first wife died, my father asked me if I'd go to ride with him. We went out, and he urged me not to—he hadn't read it, but he knew what it was about—publish the book. Well, I told him I had to, and did. And I didn't go to church much.
CHARLES EAGLES:
Why was he against the book?
JONATHAN WORTH DANIELS:
It was a story about Jehovah being . . . Jeohovah was the dupe of the book. Have you ever read it?
CHARLES EAGLES:
Yes.
JONATHAN WORTH DANIELS:
It was adopted by the Freethinkers' Society of America as a book of the month. And it treated him and God in a light that he didn't think was proper and so forth.