Freethought Week

Whereas, October 12, 2010 marks the 318th anniversary of the date on which it was declared in the Massachusetts colony that “spectral evidence” would no longer be admissible in court, terminating the infamous Salem Witch Trials;

Whereas, this declaration by Governor William Phips of the Colony of Massachusetts was the first of its kind requiring that evidence admitted in court be observable by the ordinary senses, measurable and replicable;

Whereas, the declaration forced the immediate termination of the notorious Salem Witch Trials, since all the convictions invoked such “evidence” as voices from a deity or spectres including “angels and devils;”

Whereas, 20 persons were condemned and cruelly executed (19 hanged, one pressed to death) prior to Governor Phips’ declaration;

Whereas, Governor Phips wrote that he stopped the proceedings “because I saw many innocent persons might otherwise perish,” including the 52 people with pending cases of witchcraft–all of whom were released within three months of his ruling;

Whereas, 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;

Whereas, there may be no single day of more significance in tracing the history of human enlightenment and the adoption of the scientific method than October 12, 1692;

Whereas, there have been many holidays for saints and superstition, but never one commemorating reason, freethought and state/church separation;

I, Governor____________________________, hereby declare October 12-19, 2010, as “Freethought Week.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation