| Freethought Day|
"Every man—in the development of his own personality—has the
right to form his own beliefs and opinions. Hence, suppression of
belief, opinion and expression is an affront to the dignity of man,
a negation of man’s essential nature."
— Toward a General Theory of the First Amendment,
"[F]reedom to differ is not limited to things that
do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The
test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch
the heart of the existing order."
— Supreme Court Justice Robert
Jackson, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette,
Freethought "Coming Out" Day is an annual day of
celebration which gives those freethinkers who have been unable to proudly
declare themselves a platform from which to do so. Held on October 12,
newly declared freethinkers can gain strength and support from fellow
"open" freethinkers and from other October freethought holidays such
as International Freethought Month and Separation of Church and State
In this day and age in the United States, discrimination,
hatred, and bias against freethinkers is still allowed, even promoted,
by many in this country. Unlike the gay and lesbian community, the freethought
community does not have the powerful voice and activist population necessary
to end such treatment. It is time to change this situation for the better
of all freethinkers, especially the young.
These reactions often stem from a lack of understanding
about what it is to be a freethinker, the fact that it is a mindset
that is often set in motion in childhood, and like sexual preference,
is not something one can change with a whim or the right "religion."
Nor should it be something others try to change. In order to be understood,
freethinkers must be allowed to openly admit themselves and their beliefs-or
lack thereof. Only in such a supportive environment can freethinkers
ever hope to gain the voice they need to change their world for the
better of all.
Today's world sees the emergence of younger and younger
freethinkers who are often alone and isolated in their communities.
The Secular Student Alliance
and the Campus Freethought
Alliance attempt through their projects to give voice to college
and university freethinkers in the US and across the globe, while programs
such as Camp Quest,
the country's first secular humanist summer camp, and the SSA's
High School Program provide young freethinkers with a place to gain
a sense of community and understand that there is a proud and illustrious
history to their philosophy. However, these programs are few and far
between, and without a united voice and a united commitment to change
this situation, they may not be enough.
Every freethinker in every community should feel comfortable
about her ideals, and part of being able to do so is feeling connected
to other like-minded individuals. Freethought Coming Out Day allows
friends, family, and communities of freethinkers the chance to understand
who we are, what we believe, and that freethought is in every community
and should not be looked upon with fear, but with respect as a positive,
compassionate way to live one's life.
Hold a Community Self-Outing:
If you belong to a local freethought group, hold a meeting at a local
public area and "come out" to your community. Make speeches about
how you became freethinkers, pass out literature to the community
(and any press that may show up for such an event; if you publicize
it in advance, your group's efforts may make the local newspapers
and the evening news), and read passages from the works of famous
freethought writers such as Mark Twain, George Eliot, Shakespeare,
Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, etc.
Start a Freethought Quilt: Quilts
with a historical theme can often be easy for a group to make, especially
over a period of time. Have your group look up details about quiltmaking
on the Internet. Use a simple pattern, and create a local freethought
quilt using colors, symbols, events, and people from the freethought
movement. At community festivals and on Freethought Coming Out Day,
rent a booth and display the quilt, along with other group and freethought
literature, so that the community can see what freethought means to
Do a Good Deed for the Community:
As part of Freethought Coming Out Day, either as an individual or
as part of a freethought group, do something good for the community.
Take part in a river, highway, or park cleanup, collect coupons and
go to the grocery store and donate the foods to a local food bank,
donate children's blankets to a local hospital's children's ward,
have a statue cleaned, help build a house for a homeless person, donate
books to a local library, or any number of other "good deeds" that
reflect the positive nature of being a freethinker.
Practice Random Acts of Kindness:
This is something you can do any day, but on Freethought Coming Out
Day this can often help the newly open freethinker feel better about
her decision. On toll roads pay the tolls of the next 5 people behind
you. Where legal, make sure parking meters have time on them where
people are parked. Buy a stranger's dinner at a fast food place, or
pay for the food of the person behind you in the drive-thru. Make
a person's day with a random act of kindness.
Become a Mentor to a Young Freethinker:
Contact the SSA
High School Program and see about becoming a mentor to a young
high school freethinker. This can mean the difference between a young
person feeling alone or feeling part of the larger movement.