Freethought Week Declared By Texas & Missouri (November 1994)

Not content with a “Freethought Week” proclamation from her San Antonio mayor, Foundation officer Catherine Fahringer set higher sights–and succeeded in getting “Freethought Week” proclaimed by Governor Ann Richards of Texas.

Catherine revived interest among freethinkers in the “Freethought Week” originally suggested by member David Schreiber and proclaimed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 1992.

“Freethought Week” commemorates the anniversary of October 12, 1692, when Governor William Phips of the Massachusetts colony declared “spectral evidence” inadmissible, thereby terminating the notorious Salem witch trials.

Freethinkers in Missouri also succeeded in persuading the Governor of Missouri to proclaim “Freethought Week” this year.

“That makes only 48 more states to go!” Catherine quipped.

The proclamation, based on wording suggested by Schreiber, reads, in part:

“Of all the watersheds of human history, surely one of the most seminal in terms of the elevation of thought from the depths of primal instincts was Governor Phips’ October 12, 1692 edict.

“There have been many formal proclamations of weeks of prayer and bible reading, but until now, never a special observance of a week during which we commemorate reason, freethought and church/state separation,” concludes the Richards version of the proclamation.

Both governors declared “Freethought Week” from October 8-October 15, 1994.

A similar “Freethought Week” was declared during the same period by Philadelphia Mayor Edward G. Rendell at the request of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, a Foundation chapter directed by Margaret Downey. Mayor Rendell signed a proclamation to “celebrate this commemoration of the introduction of reason into the justice system.”

In 1992 “Freethought Weeks” were designated by the Madison, Wisconsin City Council, the Mayor of Baltimore, and the Mayor of Portland. In 1993 the Mayor of Huntsville issued “half a freethought week,” rescinding the proclamation following publicity.

As Catherine points out, why should it be so amazing to find a public official, even a governor, “who doesn’t believe in hanging witches?”

Catherine has suggested that freethinkers may also wish to hold “rallies for reason” or organize local freethought events around Freethought Week every October.

Catherine and fans of “Freethought Week,” with the help of the Foundation, are now promoting a national commemoration of “Freethought Week” with a “Rally for Reason” in Washington, D.C., for the year 2000.

Let’s counter the “practice of demonizing atheists” and other freethinkers, and prove people are willing to rally “for reason,” not just religion, Catherine urges.

If interested in promoting a local or state “Freethought Week” proclamation for next year, copies of the various proclamations may be requested through the Foundation office.

Freedom From Religion Foundation