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25th Anniversary

25th Anniversary

The Freethought Society is celebrating our 25th!  We are proud and honored by the celebratory messages shared by friends and associates.  

Laurie, Annie

Loftus, Elizabeth

Mehta, Hemant

Musolino, Julien

Newdow, Michael

Pinker, Steven

Randi, James

Segal, Shelley

Silverman, Herb

Speckhardt, Roy

Sweeney, Julia

Tabash, Eddie

Taft Morales, Hugh

Tamayo, David

Teller the Magician

Van Pelt, Toni

Wexler, Jay

Zimmerman, Roy

 

 


Roy Zimmerman

Roy Zimmerman

I’m tempted to be glib and say “God Bless the Freethought Society!” But glibness belies the important work the Freethought Society has been doing for 25 years now. Freedom of belief or nonbelief is the foundation of our free way of life. It is one of the things that Makes America Great Again and again. So let us all bless theFreethought Society, and send it into another 25 years of important, successful work.

Roy Zimmerman
American Satirical Singer-Songwriter and Guitarist
http://www.royzimmerman.com/


Roy Speckhardt

Roy Speckhardt

 

Congratulations to those gathered to celebrate the 25th year of the Freethought Society! Today, America is shamefully lead by a president whose priorities are antithetical to humanism and freethought. Trump’s aggressive posture to other nations, his willingness to merge church and state, his opposition to social justice and his disregard of the poor are on the far extreme of what we would hope for from our nation’s leader. That’s just one reason we at the American Humanist Association are pleased to work side by side with the Freethought Society to show the nation and the world that Mr. Trump doesn’t represent us all. 

Fortunately, our numbers of nonreligious and nontheistic are continuing their rapid rise. This leads to greater respect and prominence for humanist and freethought perspectives in government and public life. The Freethought Society helps raise the profile for our perspective and focus our energies toward real progress. 

Our best wishes to everyone gathered as we support the promotion of critical thinking. We don’t need gods or other supernatural forces to make this world better. We understand that science and reason are better guides than ancient holy texts and divine revelation. Together, let’s make this world a better place for all.

Roy Speckhardt
Executive Director
American Humanist Association
http://www.americanhumanist.org 
http://www.facebook.com/AmericanHumanist 
1-800-837-3792


Teller the Magician

Teller the Magician

Teller the Magician

When you started your amazing work, atheism had barely penetrated into the popular consciousness.  Prominent people were atheists, but tended to remain discreet, and many of the outspoken declarations of atheism, such as The God Delusion, The End of Faith, God is Not Great, and, God No, had yet to be published, much less become bestsellers.  

It took guts and enormous amounts of planning, outreach, and work for you to lead that movement into the age of TV and Internet.  You did this against great odds and with great success and are a tremendous model of the impact that smart and determined heroes can have on the culture.  

Teller
Magician


Toni Van Pelt

It is with great pleasure I congratulate and honor the Freethought Society, its Founder and President Margaret Downey, Vice President Glen Loev, and the Freethought Society Board of Directors on the 25th anniversary of their founding. The importance of  their work and their reach can not be over emphasized. The members of the Freethought Society by their actions are helping to create a more humane society. Thank you to each and every one of you for all that you do. Here’s to another twenty-five years of promoting rational thinking, scientific advocacy and happiness! 

Press forward,

Toni Van Pelt
President of the Institute for Science and Human Values, and 
National Organization for Women


Herb Silverman

 

Herb Silverman

Founder of the Secular Coalition for America and author of:
Candidate Without a Prayer
and
An Atheist Stranger in a Strange Religious Land: Selected Writings from the Bible Belt
https://www.herbsilverman.com/


Elizabeth Loftus

ElizabethLoftus

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Freethought Society, Margaret Downey should receive a Gold Medal for all she and the organization have done to promote freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and other crucial ideals and values.

Elizabeth Loftus
Distinguished Professor 
Psychology & Social Behavior
Criminology, Law & Society 
Cognitive Sciences
School of Law

University of California, Irvine
2393 Social Ecology II
Irvine, Calif. 92697-7080  USA

 Tel: 949-824-3285
Fax: 949-824-3001
email:  eloftus@uci.edu
UCI web:  http://socialecology.uci.edu/faculty/eloftus/  
or http://faculty.sites.uci.edu/eloftus/


Fred Edwords

Fred Edwords

For a quarter century the Freethought Society, led by the unsinkable Margaret Downey, has not only been a staple of freethought in the greater Philadelphia area but a player in the nation as a whole. As such, the Freethought Society continues to be a focus for activism, education, and camaraderie. And it has been my personal honor to address its members as a featured speaker.

Moreover, across these past twenty-five years we have watched the larger secular movement experience dramatic growth. The Freethought Society, under Margaret Downey’s inspired guidance, has been a significant part of that, often leading the way with innovative programming, robust social action, and imaginative initiatives toward greater cooperation among atheist, freethought, and humanist organizations.

Many people in our movement owe the Freethought Society a personal debt. For some, it is because it helped them find their way to emotional and intellectual liberation through a life of reason. For others, it is because it stood up for their civil liberties when nobody else would. But beyond such intensive accomplishments, the Freethought Society has continued to amuse, delight, and entertain us, making serious ideas fun and human community both a comfort and a joy.

Therefore, I heartily congratulate the Freethought Society on reaching this silver milestone in its continuing history. Should I be more progressive and call it a silver kilometer stone? Well then, I should drop the “silver” part too. The notion of a silver anniversary finds its origin in the Holy Roman Empire with its silver wreaths. And who uses stones anymore to mark off distances?

But we can refashion old traditions to new uses, can’t we? After all, those old traditions were invented by human beings to serve practical purposes. So I say, “Happy silver anniversary Freethought Society!” Please plan on me being there in person for your golden one. I’ll only be ninety-four years old but have a whole lot more to say!

Fred Edwords
Director of Planned Giving
Humanist Foundation
American Humanist Association
202-550-9964 
Fredwords@AmericanHumanist.org 
www.AmericanHumanist.org/HumanistFoundation 


Rob Boston

RobBoston

RobBoston

Rob Boston Congratulations Video 

Rob Boston
Director of Communications at Americans United for Separation of Church and State
https://www.au.org/author/rob-boston


Michael Newdow

Congratulations to the Freethought Society on reaching 25 years of work in its support of the magnificent principles of religious equality and non-establishment. The framers of our Constitution would have been appalled to see the pervasive and persistent violations of the first ten words of the Bill of Rights that are the hallmark of today’s federal government. Margaret Downey has been tireless in her efforts to return the nation to its constitutional underpinnings, and the fact that her Freethought Society is still going strong after two and a half decades is a testament to both her tenacity and to the many who truly understand religious freedom. 

Michael Newdow
Attorney and Emergency Medicine Physician, best known for
his efforts to have recitations of the current version of the
 Pledge of Allegiance in public schools in the
United States declared unconstitutional because of its
inclusion of the phrase “under God.”


Penn Jillette

Penn Jillette

Penn Jillette

freethink2018.mov

Penn Jillette

Magician/Illusionist, Juggler, Comedian, Musician, Inventor, Actor, Filmmaker, Television Personality and best-selling author known for his work with fellow magician Teller as half of the team Penn & Teller


 

Hugh Taft-Morales

Hugh Taft-Morales

Hugh Taft-Morales

Congratulations to the Freethought Society for 25 years of activism, education, and inspiration! Thanks to Margaret Downey, the Freethought Society Board Members, and the legions of volunteersthe Freethought Society has stood up energetically and effectively for the rights of non-believers, the importance of evidence-based public policy, and the separation of religion and government. The Philadelphia Ethical Society has been proud to be a home for The Tree of Knowledge and to host great speakers and performers brought to us by the Freethought Society. Over the years we have enjoyed co-hosting Lawrence Krauss, Jay Wexler, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Herb Silverman, Ron Lindsay, Roy Zimmerman, and many more.

No congratulations for this occasion would be complete without acknowledging Margaret Downey specifically for her sage advice, counsel, and encouragement to me as Leader of the Philadelphia Ethical Society. Her high standards and amazing energy help remind us all that while we remain firmly grounded on the earth, we can still reach for the stars!

Hugh Taft-Morales
Philadelphia Ethical Society Leader

 


Jay Wexler

Jay Wexler

Jay Wexler

“Congratulations to Margaret Downey, the Atheist with the Mostest, and her terrific organization, the Freethought Society for twenty-five years of truly outstanding work!  For over two decades, FS has been an essential voice in fighting for the rights of freethinkers of all stripes.  Thank you so much for everything you do, and I wish you all the best for another century or two of future success (although hopefully the need to fight for the rights of freethinkers won’t still exist in 2218!).” 

 

Jay Wexler
Author, Professor, Legal Scholar, and SCOTUS Humor Documentarian


Julia Sweeney

 

Julia Sweeney

Portrait of Julia Sweeney, Los Angeles, CA, 2008

Julia Sweeney’s Congratulations Video


Gary Berton

Gary Berton

Gary Berton

Congratulations on your first 25 years! May the next 25 be as productive. Thanks for being a great partner with the Thomas Paine National Historical Association over all these years, and I look forward to bigger things coming soon. All my best!

Gary Berton
Thomas Paine National Historical Association
Coordinator, Institute for Thomas Paine Studies at Iona College
Secretary, Thomas Paine National Historical Association
Member, International Society for Historians of Atheism, Secularism and Humanism


Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins

Many congratulations to Margaret Downey and the Freethought Society, on your Silver Jubilee. We need more people, and more organizations, like you: doing good for both Freethought and freedom of thought – especially in America where both are so sadly needed.

Richard Dawkins


Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll

Congratulations to the Freethought Society and Margaret Downey on twenty-five years of fighting the good fight for freethought in the public sphere. This quarter-century has been a time of momentous change in the public perception of secularism, and organizations like the Freethought Society have contributed enormously to the progress we have made in getting atheism a seat at society’s table. Of course the journey is far from over, with atheists still one of the least-trusted groups in America, and continual overreach from governmental officials who don’t respect freedom of conscience. So here’s hoping that the next 25 years are as active and successful as the last!

Sean Carroll
Theoretical Physicist
California Institute of Technology
http://preposterousuniverse.com/


Ted Daeschler

Ted Daeschler

Ted Daeschler

 

Congratulations on 25 years of promoting reasoned discourse, and having fun doing it!

 Ted Daeschler, Ph.D.
Associate Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, Academy of Natural Sciences
Associate Professor, Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science, Drexel University


Ann Druyan

Ann Druyan

Ann Druyan

“What a joy it is to celebrate a twenty-five year commitment to questioning authority and standing up for freedom of thought. Through the darkest periods of those years, and this is one of them, Margaret Downey and the Freethought Society have been sources of light and hope. Thank you for working to protect the values that are at the heart of both science and democracy.”

With admiration,

Ann Druyan
American writer and producer specializing in the communication of science. She co-wrote the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos, hosted by Carl Sagan, whom she married in 1981. 


Zenos Frudakis

Zenos Frudakis congratulates Freethought Society

A Congratulations video from Zenos. 


Arthur L. Caplan, PhD.

Author L. Caplan, PhD

Author L. Caplan, PhD

 

“I am proud to support this vital organization in the fight against ignorance and fear.”

Arthur L. Caplan, Ph.D.
Professor of Bioethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center 


Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker

“Happy Silver Jubilee, Freethought Society! Here’s to continuing success in keeping thought free.”

Steven Pinker
Cognitive Psychologist
Linguist
Author


Dan Barker and Annie Laurie

Dan Barker and Annie Laurie 1

Dan Barker and Annie Laurie 1

Dan Barker and Annie Laurie 2

Dan Barker and Annie Laurie 2

The phrase “After all is said and done, usually more is said than done” DEFINITELY does not apply to the Freethought Society. For a quarter of a century, the brave and charming Margaret Downey with equally dedicated and intelligent cohorts have been on the front line of freedom, not only elevating the status of freethought, but making it FUN! Congratulations for persevering to 25 years, and beyond.

 

Love,

Dan Barker and Annie Laurie 
Co-Presidents of the Freedom From Religion Foundation


Tom Flynn

tom-flynn

Tom Flynn

I’m delighted to offer my congratulations to the Freethought Society on its twenty-fifth anniversary. As it happens, I’ve known and cherished the Society almost since its beginning. It was in 1993, the year of its launch, when a delegation from the Society greeted me at the Wilmington, Delaware, Amtrak station. I was there to promote by then-new book, The Trouble with Christmas. Not having met Margaret Downey, the day before I’d asked her how I would recognize her. She just said, “You’ll know.” Sure enough, as the train pulled in there was a full-blown anti-Christmas protest taking place on the platform; one of the signs read SAVE A TREE IN ’93.

That anecdote captures something essential about the Freethought Society: It over-delivers. That’s been part of its DNA for a quarter-century. That’s why it grew from the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia into a bona fide national organization. That’s why it has become identified with so many unique projects, from the Anti-Discrimination Support Network, the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee, the Tree of Knowledge winter display program, unique approaches to charity and social-service work, and so many more.

There’s another characteristic I’ve come to associate with the Freethought Society’s work: an infectious sense of fun. The idea of the Friday the Thirteenth Superstition Bash originated at the Center for Inquiry in the 1990s, but no organization has taken the concept further than the Freethought Society with its irrepressible Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Centers.

At the center of everything Freethought Society, of course, is that force of nature known as Margaret Downey. But the Society is anything but a one-woman show. So much of its dynamism results from the synergy of bringing together creative, thoughtful people and giving them room to innovate.

For example, prior to my first visit in 1993, I’d never scampered across the grounds of a country club sticking freethought tracts under the windshield wipers of very expensive vehicles. Nonetheless, that’s how Margaret and I spent part of the Sunday morning of my visit. (The statute of limitations is past, right, Margaret?)

The Freethought Society is unique among freethought/atheist/humanist organizations. Here’s to the next quarter-century!

Tom Flynn
Editor, Free Inquiry Magazine
Director, the Robert Ingersoll Birthplace Museum and the Freethought Trail
Author of the forthcoming blasphemous SF novel Behold, He Said


Jeff Ingersoll

Jeff Ingersoll

Jeff Ingersoll

Congratulations go out to Margaret Downey and the Freethought Society for the 25 years of important work that you have achieved.  Coincidentally, the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum is also celebrating it’s 25th anniversary in 2018. Let’s look forward to another 25 years of promoting freethought, science and reason.

Jeff Ingersoll
Chair,
Robert Green Ingersoll Memorial Committee


Abby Hafer

Abigail Hafer

Abigail Hafer

Triskaidekapoiema

An Encomium in 13 Limericks
on the Subject of the
25th Anniversary of the Founding of the Freethought Society

By Abby Hafer

Modern science, aged 400 years,
Wipes away many sick people’s tears.
Because knowledge, with evidence
Is, without precedence,
The way to keep healthy for years!

Did the Bible give us knowledge of stars?
Or the planets all orbiting far?
Or did astronomers lead
Us to know what we need
To navigate, even to Mars?

Charles Darwin, born 1809
Developed a theory so fine
It explains all of life!
But endured so much strife
Because religion is so asinine!

Knowing physics, which runs GPS,
Is not really needed, I guess.
If we just believed Jesus
The knowledge would seize us
Of how to get lost so much less.

Global warming is dangerous—true!
Without science we’d have not a clue
Of how to know it and deal
With outcomes—so real!
And religions won’t give us a clue.

Vaccinations have made us so free
Of smallpox, and other disease.
We just used to pray
As our life drained away
But science got us up off our knees.

Birth control is so needed, and yet
It is often put under great threat
By churches with fundies
Who get told on Sundays
That abstinence is our best bet.

Have you noticed the themes of this verse?
How our lives used to be so much worse?
When our thoughts were not free,
And we just couldn’t see
That superstition is really a curse?

Which leads us to Freethought, you see.
If we want better lives, it’s the key!
To knowledge and beauty
So it is our duty
To spread it, and do it, with glee.

Freethought’s story is long and it’s proud!
But opposition is frequently loud.
Both Big Foot and Big Oil
Have fans on our soil.
Their opinions do not make me proud.

But this is why we need Free Thinkers!
To counteract all Kool-Aid drinkers.
Knowledge carefully gleaned
Is often demeaned.
So we need Downeys, and Dawkins, and Pinkers.

Freethought’s volunteers, members and Board
Know that truth must be spread, not just stored
The decisions they make
And the actions they take
Are great things—they should all be adored!

Happy Birthday, Freethought Society!
For having this vision so key.
Be active! Be great!
Help humankind’s fate
Congratulations to you!–that’s from me.

Abigail Hafer
D.Phil in Zoology


Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta

The Freethought Society has always been a wonderful example of a group that does incredible work on a local and national level. You’re activists, you’re community builders, you’re consciousness raisers, and (this isn’t trivial) you’re pleasant human beings. 

I think the stigma against non-religious people would change rather quickly if more cities had groups like yours, so thank you to the members and leaders for setting the bar high for everyone else. Congratulations on the first 25 years!

— Hemant Mehta
Editor of FriendlyAtheist.com and
author of I Sold My Soul on eBay 
and The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide


Tom Krattenmaker

Tom Krattenmaker

Tom Krattenmaker

My warmest congratulations to Margaret Downey and the Freethought Society for 25 years of leadership advancing reason, fairness, and the right for each of us to think and believe in accordance with our consciences. Secular America has come a long way in that quarter century, and the Freethought society is one reason why.

–Tom Krattenmaker
Member of USA Today Board of Contributors
Author of three books, most recently Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower
Member of the Board of Directors of the Yale Humanist Community


Paul Halpern

Paul Halpern

Paul Halpern

We are lucky to live in a society which offers freedom of consciousness, uninhibited by government:  either freedom of religion or freedom from religion, depending on each individual’s choice.  Many congratulations to The Freethought Society and to Margaret Downey on the 25th anniversary of the society’s founding, with gratitude for helping support the liberty of private, individual belief and ethical values.

Paul Halpern
Prof. of Physics, University of the Sciences


James (the Amazing) Randi

James_Randi

James Randi

Reading what such luminaries as Richard Dawkins, Teller, and Elizabeth Loftus have written as congratulatory notes, I feel a bit outclassed, but please accept my best wishes and my continued support for the Freethought Societly, whose reminders, suggestions and comments so effectively amplify our understanding and admiration for their existence. You continue to remind us. Please don’t let up, okay..?

Hope to see you very soon, and have more of your wisdom…!

JamesRandiSignature

James Randi Signature

Sincerely,
James (the Amazing) Randi


Shelley Segal

Shelley Segal

Shelley Segal

Congratulations to the Freethought Society for 25 years of activity!! This is a wonderful milestone and I am glad to celebrate with you.

An enormous thank you to Margaret Downey, to all volunteers and to the board of the Freethought Society for your commitment and hard work across many areas of free thought activism. You have helped to raise awareness for nontheists across the US and have been invaluable in promoting secularism through effective cultural, political and social measures. 

Here’s to the next 25 (and lots more wonderful parties)

Big love,
Shelley Segal
Singer and Songwriter


Eddie Tabash

Eddie Tabash

Eddie Tabash

The degree to which we atheists are still the most unjustly despised minority in America, today, is a horrendous manifestation of how far our society still has to go to reach even the most minimal level of enlightened benevolence. It is self evident that believers and non believers should be considered equal members of any social order.

The prejudice, hate, and unfairness that particularly many religious fundamentalists unleash on those who don’t share their worldview is a blight on civilization. Yet, for twenty-five years, Margaret Downey and the magnificent organization she founded, the Freethought Society, have fought a courageous battle to ensure equal rights for atheists.

The tragedy is that everything that the Freethought Society struggled to attain should be so obvious that moral, legal, and political combat for such achievements shouldn’t even be necessary. There is no project that the Freethought Society have ever undertaken that sought to provide greater rights for nonbelievers. The only objective was to end special privileging of religion so that we can all be equal before the law.

If history is being accurately recorded, the Freethought Society will always be remembered as crucial pioneers in the colossal effort to create a modern secular government and social environment in which no one is excluded from full equality because of either accepting or rejecting any tenet of religious belief.

Margaret Downey and the Freethought Society give us atheists hope that the darkness of religious oppression may someday be finally dispelled.

Eddie Tabash
Chair, Board of Directors
Center for Inquiry


Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall

Margaret Downey and The Freethought Society always make me feel guilty. I only write. They DO, and what they do matters. Congratulations on 25 years of important work in outreach and activism.

Harriet Hall, MD
The SkepDoc


Donald B. Ardell

Kudos, tributes and plaudits to the Freethought Society (FS) its leaders and supporters as well as committee participants and volunteers on a quarter century of distinguished service.

Just as freedom depends upon freethinkers so, too, do a nation of freethinkers look to FS for inspiration, leadership, education and irreverent debunking of misplaced credulity and reverence.

To borrow (and paraphrase) a few treasured gems of Robert G. Ingersoll, a champion of reason whom the FS has honored in multiple ways on numerous occasions, I thank its founder, Margaret Downey, for guiding FS to utter so many brave words in favor of liberty, in favor of reason, in favor of free men, women and children. And I thank FS for all the brave works that will someday, at last, sound like trumpets honoring our freedom from religion and from other superstitions.

Ardell Testimonial for Freethought Society

Donald B. Ardell, Ph.D.
Author
(ARDELL WELLNESS REPORT)


Julien Musolino

Julien Musolino

Julien Musolino

The world may be getting better and safer, but this isn’t happening by magic. Rather, it is thanks to people like Margaret Downey and organizations like the Freethought Society that we can all enjoy more rights, more freedom, and less oppression from ignorance and superstition. Margaret has been a true champion of Enlightenment values, she has been a wonderful and generous friend, and like the French wines that we enjoyed together in Paris, she and the Freethought society keep getting better and better as time goes by. Happy 25th Anniversary!

Julien Musolino
Cognitive Scientist, Public Speaker, and Author
http://julienmusolino.com/


David Tamayo

David Tamayo

David Tamayo

An organization doesn’t last 25 years without great and sincere ideals, as well as an even better board leadership. The Freethought Society has served the community and nation at many levels, and has always been a great example to other secular organizations in the country. The Freethought Society has demonstrated that it is an organization for everyone – from the young to the mature, and from the quiet to the activist. The Freethought Society has served as a home for thousands over its two and a half decades of hard work.

The Freethought Society has fought for separation between government and religion, equal rights, political fairness, pro-science education and the elimination of hurtful superstitions.

The dedication of The Freethought Society’s staff and board, under the leadership and dedication of Margaret Downey is second to none. This is one of the many reasons the Freethought Society is not only one of the older organizations in the United States, but it is one of the most respected – always avoiding the unnecessary while concentrating on doing the job that is so necessary to preserve a secular nation.

Hispanic American Freethinkers wishes the Freethought Society another 25 years of great success. May you continue to set the highest standards of ethics and freethought which have served as an outstanding example of what a secular non-profit organization should be. For all this and much more, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

David Tamayo, President
Hispanic American Freethinkers
An educational 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization
1900 Campus Commons Dr. Ste. 100 Reston, VA 20191