Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Herb, how is freethought represented in the secular communities now?
Dr. Herb Silverman: Freethought is represented in different ways in different freethought communities. When I first became engaged with freethought communities, I learned about several national atheist and humanist organizations. I joined them all because each was involved in issues I supported. But each group was doing its own thing and ignoring like-minded organizations, while competing for funds from what they viewed as a fixed pie of donors. I knew we needed to grow the pie to benefit all these organizations and the freethought movement as a whole. They were spending too much time arguing about labels (atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker, etc.) and too little time showing our strength in numbers and cooperating on issues that affect all freethinkers. Here’s an interesting distinction between Christians and freethinkers: Christians have the same unifying word but fight over theology; freethinkers have the same unifying theology, but fight over words. At least our wars are only verbal. So in 2002, I helped form the Secular Coalition for America, whose mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government. Our 19 national member organizations cover the full spectrum of freethought.