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Encouraging free thinking that is based in logic and rationale, National Freethought Day celebrates the date that the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts finally ended in 1692.

History of National Freethought Day

Acting as a deep stain on American history, the Salem Witch Trials were a series of trials that took place in the 1690s as people were accused of practicing witchcraft and casting spells. With more than 200 people involved in the accusations, at least 20 people died unfairly as a result of this action, which brought about mass hysteria and it’s why the phrase “witch hunt” was coined.

The end of these trials was brought about by then Governor of Massachusetts, William Phips, who went so far as to write to the Privy Council of the British Monarchs at the time, William and Mary. Phips’ letter was dated October 12, 1692 and it was the beginning of the end when Phips finally declared that ‘spectral evidence’ (or testimony that a person’s spirit appeared in a dream) would no longer be considered important in court. The governor saved hundreds of lives with this decision.

National Freethought Day is celebrated in an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of allowing lack of reason and thought to dictate the future of people’s lives. Dubbed a “festival of reason” (which is often associated with a lack of religion), the day is observed throughout the United States and especially in the state of California.

How to Celebrate National Freethought Day

Get ready to open the mind and think freely and rationally in celebration of National Freethought Day! Try out some of these interesting ways to enjoy the day:

Attend California Freethought Day Events

Active in Sacramento beginning in 2002, the acknowledgement and celebration of free thinking has been enjoyed in the state capital for many years. With the fun and festivities that draw families, along with the activism and education that is needed for such an important topic, spending National Freethought Day in Sacramento is a great idea.

Programs and events include themes such as the separation of church and state, social justice, freedom of speech and thought, civic engagement and enthusiasm for science.

Read a Book on Free Thinking

One of the best ways to celebrate this day would be to get a bit more educated about the ways that free thought is vital for a fair and free society. Consider some of these titles or come up with some of your own:

  • Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan Jacoby (2005). Take a peek into the reason behind American events such as suffragism, abolitionism, civil liberties, the women’s movement and much more. 
  • The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason by Victor J. Stenger (2009). Answering many criticisms of his first book, this author reaches further into the idea that the spiritual world is a failed hypothesis. 
  • Collected Writings by Thomas Paine (1794). This classic piece of American literature is almost as old as the country itself and brings together five of the most important essays Paine wrote at the beginning of the history of the USA.

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