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TueOct 12

National Freethought Day – October 12, 2021

National Freethought Day is celebrated on October 12 every year. It’s an irony that it has taken so long for us to celebrate and raise awareness about something as basic as independent thinking. Every free and democratic citizen must be allowed to enjoy the freedom of political, educational, and scientific thinking. Yet humans have always been cynical about unique or independent thinkers. Famous persons such as Einstein, Newton, Da Vinci, Galileo, Jesus, and many more were ostracized, penalized, and even executed because the majority did not agree with their thinking. National Freethought Day cultivates an environment of understanding and freedom.

History of National Freethought Day

There’s a reason why National Freethought Day is celebrated on October 12: On this day in 1692, William Phips, the then governor of colonial Massachusetts, wrote a letter to the British monarchs expressing concern about how the Salem Witch Trials were heard and prosecuted according to spectral evidence. He complained that the entire evidence upon which judgment was executed was someone’s beliefs and dreams. In the Salem Witch Trials, almost all of the evidence were assumptions that a person was involved in consorting with devils; there was no definite proof. William Phips, therefore, following mass protests and agitation, stopped the Salem Witch Trials.

In 1997 organizations such as Freethought Society, American Humanist Association, and Secular Coalition For America initiated the celebrations for Freethought. And although the Salem Witch Trials were abolished in 1693, persecution for free-thinking continues to date. History bears witness that those who, instead of following society’s norm and convention, chose a different (often eccentric) path were either greatly rewarded or severely opposed and ostracized. That one’s ideas contradict established norms does not make one any less deserving to be heard. If freedom of thought were outlawed, we would have been denied some of the most brilliant discoveries, inventions, and creations that humankind has achieved. National Freethought Day celebration began in 1997, but it took another four years before it became popular and celebrated all over the country.

National Freethought Day timeline

335–323 B.C.
Aristotle’s Work

Aristotle composes most of his works in these years.

1615
Galileo’s Inquisition

The Roman Inquisition concludes that Galileo’s observation of heliocentrism is absurd.

1692
Salem Witch Trials

The Salem Witch Trials are heard against those who are accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts.

1921
Albert Einstein Wins a Nobel Laureate

Albert Einstein wins a Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the photoelectric effect.

National Freethought Day FAQs

What is an example of free thought?

Protesting is a great example of free thought because they express their opinions publicly and go against others’ opinions. They express their thoughts by making a statement about what they believe. 

How can I be a free thinker?

You are a free thinker if you question belief, challenge questioning authority, and do research using critical thinking. Be open to change. 

Why is free-thinking so important?

Free thinking enables us to generate ideas that have the power and potential to transform the world. They allow themselves to think of concepts not mentioned in textbooks, and thus, experience personal and social success.

How To Observe National Freethought Day

  1. Think freely

    Celebrate the day by thinking logically, reasonably, and rationally. Encourage everyone around you to think rationally as often as they can.

  2. Raise awareness

    You can also raise awareness about the importance of free-thinking. Talk about how having free thoughts leads to progress and the betterment of society.

  3. Read history

    Read about how people have been penalized through the centuries for thinking differently. Try to locate similar instances today and what you can do to encourage more freedom of thought.

5 Facts About Salem Witch Trials That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. The first accused were children

    The Salem Witch Trials started with two girls having unexplainable fits.

  2. Some have admitted to witchcraft

    Tituba was the first to admit to witchcraft at the Salem Witch Trials.

  3. First execution at the trials

    Bridget Bishop was the first to be executed for witchcraft at the Salem Witch Trials.

  4. Animals weren’t spared either

    During the trials, two dogs were killed, being accused and found guilty of witchcraft.

  5. Salem did not burn its witches

    The victims of the Salem Witch Trials were hanged, not burned, at the Gallows.

Why National Freethought Day Is Important

  1. It’s a basic right

    Freedom of thought and speech is the democratic right of every citizen. National Freethought Day upholds this right and keeps our democracy alive.

  2. It has a long history

    Free thinking didn’t emerge overnight, nor has it always been protected. National Freethought Day reminds us of the centuries of struggle that have led to a relatively liberal society.

  3. Helps people everywhere

    The freedom of thought is, unfortunately, disproportionately enjoyed across the world. Politics and culture have a great deal of influence on how freely a person is allowed to think. National Freethought Day hopes for a world where every individual can think logically and rationally.

National Freethought Day dates

YearDateDay
2021October 12Tuesday
2022October 12Wednesday
2023October 12Thursday
2024October 12Saturday
2025October 12Sunday

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