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Freethought, or free inquiry, is a catch-all term referring to the variety of beliefs which, in general, reject authoritarianism and revealed or fundamentalist religion in favor of science and human reason. Hence the term "free" meaning "free from external dogma," implying that their beliefs came from their own thinking and research. It is the basis for rationalism, secularism, and democracy. It overlaps with atheism, agnosticism, and secular humanism, but may also according to some definitions describe some theistic beliefs such as deism.

Those who favor freethought are called freethinkers and are currently the largest group of what you could call "organised" atheists. Other brandings have adopted the name "Brights," but their detractors find that term to be rather confrontational, arrogant and somewhat embarrassing. Most freethinkers will typically be atheists or agnostics, and use the "freethought" term to indicate how they came to not believe in any gods. Some, however, are theists of one type or another who also consider themselves to have reached their conclusions by independent thought. Freethinkers argue that all personal beliefs, even those of a religious nature, should be analyzed to ensure that they have rational bases.

The term "freethinker" emerged toward the end of the 17th century in England to describe those who stood in opposition to the institution of the Church, and of literal belief in the Bible.

Advocacy groups[edit]


Freethought Day is held on October 12 to commemorate the end of the witch trials in Salem, a Massachusetts colony, by a proclamation from the governor in 1693. The event is widely celebrated with dinner, discussion, themes, and speakers.[8] It was first proposed by an FFRF member in 1992.

International Blasphemy Rights Day is observed by freethinkers on September 30, the anniversary of the publication in 2005 of a Danish cartoon that portrayed the prophet Muhammad. The holiday was initiated in 2009 by the CFI as a reminder that religion should not be immune from criticism. The Institute for Creation Research bills it as "yet another day to espouse their hatred for religion."[9]

Everybody Draw Muhammad Day, May 20, was conceived of by a Seattle cartoonist in 2010 following the Comedy Central channel censorship of a South Park episode depicting Muhammad. Most Muslims maintain that one should not draw or otherwise depict Muhammad in any way.

See also[edit]