A Celebration of Freethought

Matt Cherry

Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest is a high point of the local cultural calendar. The traditional German festival is a secular celebration of art, culture, and cuisine. Tens of thousands of people enjoy its plays, art shows, concerts, and food and beer tastings. This year, Cincinnati’s festival-goers will also be able to enjoy “A Celebration of Freethought”—a national conference organized by FREE INQUIRY magazine over Oktoberfest weekend.

A Celebration of Freethought, organized in cooperation with the Free Inquiry Group of Cincinnati, will be held September 20 and 21 (yes, Oktoberfest does take place in Septem-ber!) and will bring together most of America’s leading experts on the past, present, and future of freethought. (See page 48 for conference details and registration form.)

On Saturday night a banquet will celebrate the 950th anniversary of the birth of one of the outstanding figures of world culture: Omar Khayyám. The Persian freethinker has the unusual distinction of being both one of the most important mathematicians and scientists of his era and also a great poet. The banquet will include readings from the Rubaiyát of Omar Khayyám. On Sun-day afternoon there will be a visit to the grave of Frances Wright, a leading nineteenth-century freethinker and feminist.

All FREE INQUIRY readers are invited to join A Celebration of Free-thought and to sample the delights of Oktoberfest.

International Humanists Launch New HQ in Britain

The new London headquarters of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) will be officially launched on “International Humanist Day,” June 21. A press conference and banquet in London—at which Paul Kurtz, FREE INQUIRY’S Editor-in-Chief, will give the keynote address—will be followed by a three-day conference at the Centre for Inquiry at Westminster College, Oxford. The conference is sponsored by the Council for Secular Humanism, publisher of FREE INQUIRY magazine.

The IHEU is the international umbrella group for humanist and freethought groups. Founded in 1952, IHEU now has over 100 member organizations from 35 countries. It has official consultative status at the United Nations, UNESCO, UNICEF, and other international forums.

New Director of Mentor Program

Freethought activist Margaret Downey has been appointed the first Director of the Secular Humanist Mentor Program. The Mentor Program aims to provide support, training, and networking for humanist activists.

Margaret Downey is founder and President of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, the Anti-Discrimination Support Network, and the Thomas Paine Pennsylvania Memorial Committee. Downey commented, “The future of freethought is dependent on the abilities of our successors. We need to nurture, encourage, and assist those willing to carry on our legacy and battles. The mentoring program will enable us to pass our wisdom and experience to willing pro-tégés. I am looking forward to providing future activists with contacts who will provide guidance and much-needed information. Together, mentors and protégés will maintain the wall of church-state separation, promote freedom of thought, freedom of choice, and freedom from religious intrusion.”

Center for Inquiry in Russia

An international conference in late September will launch the new Center for Inquiry—Moscow. The conference, entitled “Science and Common Sense in Reforming Russia,” will be held from September 29 to October 4. Jointly sponsored by the International Academy of Humanism, the Russian Humanist Society, and the Philosophy Department of Moscow State University, the conference will address such issues as “The Human Face of Science,” “Mass Media and Misinformation,” and “The Revival of Irrationalism and Mysticism in Russia.” Paul Kurtz, FREE INQUIRY Editor-in-Chief, will be a keynote speaker.

The Center for Inquiry—Moscow, at Moscow State University, is jointly sponsored by the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP.) It is the second Center for Inquiry to be established outside of the United States, following the Centre for Inquiry: Critical Studies in Society, Religion, and Ethics at Oxford, England.

—Matt Cherry

Matt Cherry

Matthew Cherry is the Secretary for Development and Public Relations, International Humanist and Ethical Union.


Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest is a high point of the local cultural calendar. The traditional German festival is a secular celebration of art, culture, and cuisine. Tens of thousands of people enjoy its plays, art shows, concerts, and food and beer tastings. This year, Cincinnati’s festival-goers will also be able to enjoy “A Celebration of Freethought”—a national …

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