January 1

    Freethinkers Day

    Freethinkers Day

    Freethinkers Day celebrates the life of Thomas Paine, born on today’s date in 1737 (see entry on this page). The day educates the public about Paine’s work and about freethinking, which rejects arbitrary authority and puts reason and logic before faith. The holiday started being observed in the 1990s by The Truth Seeker magazine founded by D.M. Bennett in New York in 1873 and still in publication. (October 12 is observed as Freethought Day to note the beginning of the end of the Salem witch trials.)

    Compiled by Bill Dunn

    Summer Solstice

    Summer Solstice

    Happy Summer Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere)! Depending on the shift of the calendar, the solstice occurs between June 20-22 in the Northern Hemisphere and between Dec. 20-23 in the Southern Hemisphere. June 22 and Dec. 23 solstices are rare. The last June 22 solstice was in 1975 and there won’t be another until 2203.

    “Stonehenge, like many other stone circles and standing stones throughout Europe, is aligned to catch the first rays of the summer sun. These moments are part of a universal acknowledgement of the sun as a source of life, fertility, and good fortune. We may know a great deal more today about the physical nature of our native star, but our ancestors knew full well, as do we, that without its light and warmth, there would be no life.”

    —John Matthews, "The Summer Solstice: Celebrating the Journey of the Sun from May Day to Harvest" (2002)

    Declaration of Independence Adopted

    Declaration of Independence Adopted

    On this date in 1776, Thomas Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independence” was adopted, after a vote approving it on July 2. Its secular purpose was to “dissolve the political bands,” and it inaugurated the anti-biblical idea that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Jefferson was a Deist who was highly critical of Christianity, and whose revolutionary document made references to a “Nature’s God.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation