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Encyclopedia > The Freethinker (journal)

For other uses of The Freethinker, see The Freethinker (disambiguation).

The Freethinker is a British secular humanist journal. It is the world's oldest surviving freethought publication. Its current editor is Barry Duke. Secular humanism is that branch of philosophy that advocates the use of reason, compassion, scientific inquiry, ethics, justice and equality in addressing issues of a worldview centred upon human beings. ... Freethought is the idea and practice of forming ones opinions independent of tradition, authority and established belief. ...

It was founded by the secularist GW Foote in 1881 on a militant atheist, anti-religious platform. This article concerns secularism, the exclusion of religion and supernatural beliefs. ... Atheism is the state either of being without theistic beliefs, or of actively believing in the non-existence of deities. ...

In Issue 1 of The Freethinker (May, 1881) Foote wrote:

The Freethinker is an anti‑Christian organ, and must therefore be chiefly aggressive. It will wage relentless war against superstition in general, and against Christian superstition in particular. It will do its best to employ the resources of Science, Scholarship, Philosophy and Ethics against the claims of the Bible as a Divine Revelation; and it will not scruple to employ for the same purpose any weapons of ridicule or sarcasm that may be borrowed from the armoury of Common Sense.

Although closely linked with the National Secular Society for most of its history (NSS Presidents and General Secretaries have at various times also served as Freethinker editor), The Freethinker is strictly autonomous and is not, and never has been, published by the NSS. The National Secular Society is an organisation of the United Kingdom which promotes secularism. ...


G.W. Foote

George William Foote (11 January 1850 - 17 October 1915) was born in Plymouth and moved to London in 1868, where he became involved with the secularism and freethought, contributing to Charles Bradlaugh's National Reformer. He was to become President of the National Secular Society after Bradlaugh's death, and died in office. St. ... Secularism means: in philosophy, the belief that life can be best lived by applying ethics, and the universe best understood, by processes of reasoning, without reference to a god or gods or other supernatural concepts. ... Freethought is the idea and practice of forming ones opinions independent of tradition, authority and established belief. ... Charles Bradlaugh (26 September 1833 _ 30 January 1891) was a political activist and one of the most famous English atheists of the 19th century. ...

The Secularist, Foote's first (1876) attempt to launch his own publication, did not last long.


Partly because of anti-religious cartoons which appeared in the Christmas 1882 edition of The Freethinker, Foote was prosecuted for blasphemy, and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment with hard labor. Christmas (literally, the Mass of Christ) is a holiday in the Christian calendar, usually observed on December 25, which celebrates the birth of Jesus. ... Blasphemy is the defamation of the name of God or the gods, and by extension any display of gross irreverence towards any person or thing deemed worthy of exalted esteem. ...

List of Freethinker Editors

Here is a list of editors of The Freethinker from 1881:

  • GW Foote, 1881 - 1915 (Edward Aveling edited the paper during Foote’s imprisonment, 1883)
  • Chapman Cohen, 1915 - 1951
  • F.A. Ridley, 1951 - 1954
  • A Committee consisting of FA Hornibrook, Bayard Simmons, GH Taylor 1954-1957?
  • Colin McCall replaced Simmons in 1957 and became sole editor until December 1965
  • David Tribe, January 1966 - July 1966
  • Kit Mouat, August 1966 - January 1967
  • David Collis, January - November 1967
  • Karl Hyde, November 1967 - August 1968
  • David Reynolds, September 1968 - July 1970
  • William McIlroy, 1970 - December 1971
  • Nigel Sinnott, January 1972 - November 1973
  • Christopher Morey, November 1973 - December 1974
  • William McIlroy, 1975 - 1976
  • Jim Herrick, January 1977 - 1981
  • William McIlroy, 1981 - 1993
  • Peter Brearey, 1993 - 1998
  • Barry Duke, 1998-

Edward Bibbens Aveling (29 November 1849 – 2 August 1898), English Marxist and partner of Eleanor Marx. ... Francis Ambrose Ridley, usually known as Frank Ridley (22 February 1897 – 27 March 1994) was a marxist and secularist of the United Kingdom. ... Jim Herrick (1944 - ) is a humanist and secularist of the United Kingdom. ...


  • Herrick, Jim (1982). Vision and Realism: A Hundred Years of The Freethinker. London: GW Foote & Co. ISBN 0950824305
  • Marsh, Joss (1998). Word crimes: blasphemy, culture, and literature in nineteenth-century England. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226506916

The University of Chicago is a private co-educational university located in Chicago, Illinois. ...

External Links

The Freethinker's Website



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