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Freedom of Thought

Freedom of thought is a generic label that includes freedom of religion, speech, press, and artistic creation. It also was affiliated with a tradition of religious skepticism known as “freethinking” and “freethought.” It is scarcely coincidental that 18th-century freethinkers were often associated with libertarian causes, such as freedom of speech and press. When dealing with an established church, such as the Anglican Church in England or the Catholic Church in France, to criticize the doctrines of Christianity also was to challenge the political status quo and render oneself vulnerable to potentially severe punishments for blasphemy.

The words freethinking said freethinker made their first appearance in English literature during the latter part of the 17th century, when they were applied to Pantheists, Epicureans, Pelagians, Socinians, Deists, and ...

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