Atheist co-creator of The Simpsons is dead
A passionate advocate for atheism, Sam Simon, who died aged 59 on Sunday after a long battle with colon cancer, was known for his compassion for animals, his philanthropy, and for being the co-creator of one of the most popular animated televisions shows of all time, The Simpsons.
But, alongside his television success and charity work, Simon ardently promoted atheism, and was a life member of the atheism action group American Atheists.
The writer-director, producer and philanthropist was first diagnosed with terminal colon cancer in 2012, and informed by doctors that he had a maximum of six months left to live. After surviving the diagnosis, Simon announced that he was planning to donate $100 million of his fortune to charity, focusing primarily on animal organisations, and on charities dedicated to helping the homeless.
He said in a 2013 interview:
I’m supporting the charities that I supported during my lifetime, and I want to continue to do that.
The Sam Simon Foundation, dedicated to rescuing and rehoming stray dogs, was founded in 2002.
Using the “tens of millions” he made each year from The Simpsons, he helped fund American Atheist billboards campaigns in which prominent signs urging people to dare to question their beliefs and ditch religion pop up in cities across the US.
The boards – which offer an alternative to the aggressive religious “marketing” often seen in the US – famously included a sign reading: “You KNOW it’s a Myth … This Season Celebrate REASON”, which appeared in New York over Christmas 2010.
The adverts were backed by the biologist and well-known atheist Richard Dawkins, and by the British Humanist Association.
In an interview last year, Simon referenced his lack of religious when asked about the motivation behind his generosity, telling Vanity Fair:
People say I’m trying to buy my way into heaven, which I don’t believe in. So that can’t be true.
In a statement on its Facebook page, American Atheists yesterday said:
Sam Simon, co-creator of The Simpsons, was a strong advocate of atheist activism. He was a life member of American Atheists and an ardent supporter of our billboard campaigns, as well as the 2012 Reason Rally. We were honored to call him our friend and we will remember him warmly.