Message of Greetings

Dear Friends Free Thinkers,

With this greeting, a great number of American Free Thinkers express their feelings, as they have
supported enthusiastically the Appeal for the foundation of the International Association of the Free
Thought. While distance and some other difficulties have not facilitated our presence, the
conveners know our complete dedication to this ideal. Therefore, from a distance, we accompany
warmly this enterprise, we hope it will be born and we commit ourselves also to promote it and
push it forward as best as we can.

Two things are required to get started, and Oslo 2011, like Rome in 1904, will remain as landmarks
since the deepness of history put humankind at the centre of its concerns and action. From
Uruguay, from Latin America, we wish you all possible success and we say that we are present,
although it is not by our voice.

The Free Thought had an important projection in Latin America at the end of the 19th century and
the beginning of the 20th century, and contributed to consolidate republican and secular ideas
across the continent. Naturally, it was not an even process, and reality has multiple and unequal
faces. But it is undeniable that the projection of those characteristics in our countries has united
progress in democracy, republican feelings with the social separation of the Church and the State,
which has had different dimensions according to the situation in each country with more or less
strength. Countries such as Mexico and Uruguay have had (and it is still a substratum) a deep
impression with some important secularisation and the loss of clerical power. Regulations – in
many regards – have had a more or less feeble tendency towards separation of the Church and
the state. Even in countries where the Roman Catholic religion continues as the state religion,
gains have been achieved in a secularist direction.

For many reasons, our political and economic instability, changes in global systems have deeply
impacted most of our countries and have made our history a backward and forward motion like a
swing which have deeply impacted the persistence of the ideal of organised Free Thought. The
Free Thought continues to exist as the presence of free thinking, but not as a structured flow in
order to spread those ideals in the social context.

At the same time, a quarter of a century ago, since the Vatican started a global evangelical
reaction based on dogma, but by modernising its speech and modifying the contend of concepts
(for example, not formally reject secularism, but instead preaching “positive” secularism), which
from its point of view means new freedom for officially reintroducing religious lessons in schools.
Besides, thanks to globalisation of powerful Medias and economic power, we can see the quick
expansion of religious conservatism of evangelical and Pentecostal flow or others from the USA
and Brazil, in many cases closely linked with the economic and / or political power.

This new reality is widened and concretised in a number of initiatives, not global, but more
dangerous, because they are progressing by small concrete stages, in multiple dimensions, in the
political arena as well as in the media or the social field, but in an under covered or hidden manner,
in a number of cases. Here are just a few examples:

In different places on our continent, not in whole countries but in small provinces or places which
would not draw attention, they are re-establishing religious education. For example, in the Salta
Province in the north of Argentina, a provincial government initiative is used as an example which
is being imitated by other provinces of this country.

The President of Paraguay, Bishop Fernando Lugo, taking advantage that he is the current chair of
Mercosur (regional organisation of integration with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) set
up what he calls the MERCOSUR interreligious dialogue in 2009, working in the four countries,
whose task is to support authorities in order to promote national agendas concerning “religious
freedom” in public education and social subsidies for their action.

Naturally, there was no consultation with philosophical or non–religious Entities. In Uruguay, this
initiative of religious functioning is taking place in Parliament itself, in violation of the neutrality of
the state concerning religious matters.

Another onslaught of another kind, but religious in the end: the Salvadoran Parliament has
proposed a ten-minute compulsory reading of the Bible in schools, before lessons. And in
Uruguay, in a border town near Brazil, there are official attempts to erect a monument to the Bible.

Concerning the media, there is a real attack by religious groups. Religious radio broadcastings,
radio and TV commercials by religious sects, all the radio and TV spectrum is invaded by
numerous political parties and movements, some of them big, with a strong presence in
Parliament, which have a religious origin.

And finally the use of repression in Uruguay: the Bishops’ Conference has published guidelines to
the staff of religious schools meaning that they should not get divorced or be homosexuals, which
is legally discriminatory, but no one wants to be politically incorrect and nothing has been done in
public law.

In Chubut, Argentina, the headmaster of a secondary school, who had banned religious
ceremonies inside the school by a group of students, has been sanctioned by the educational
authorities. He has been reinstated only after a large mobilisation of parents and students.
Recently, the Rector of Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Colombia, Monsignor Luis Fernando
Rodriguez, has decided to cancel an academic event, “the debates on Justice – Delayed
Reflections”, which was designed to celebrate the last 75 years of the College. According to the
Rector, the decision was made because five speakers had clear views “against the guidelines of
the Church Magister concerning the defence of human life at every stage of its development”.
Among other things, the decision has caused the immediate resignation of the dean of the college
of law and political science, Maria Cristina Gomez, and constitutes a situation of censorship in

In Uruguay, a conflict is currently taking place, since the Catholic Church is opposed to the delivery
of contraceptive pills, because the country’s health services are implementing a law adopted by
Parliament on reproductive health, which, even if it has not accepted decriminalisation of abortion,
still provides a broad agenda on education on the subject and an adviser on abortion for women.
Together with Opus Dei-related academics and parliamentarians, the Church promotes an act of
conscience objection, not only for individuals, but also for institutions, in order to avoid the general
duties of the law.

In general, the “ideological drums” of religions attempt to prevent the legalisation and / or the
acceptance of any form, even the therapeutic form, of abortion, to oppose same sex marriage,
same sex adoption, and so on. And, through a systematic campaign and lobbying on elected
people, they demand “religious freedom”, but in Uruguay, there has been religious freedom since
the independence.

However from the point of view of the Free Thought, this century has witnessed a new Awakening.
It is nascent but it is developing in intensity. At the same time, there is certain mistrust toward
politicians who lean toward “politically correct” speeches -which is not ethics but values and
principles in conformity with mainstream ideas- in order not to lose potential votes; more and more
citizens choose the Free Thought because they feel another manner to strengthen a free society,
and, which is also worth emphasizing, with little influence on political parties, but including people
of different ideological options.

An enormous task also consists of reminding the concepts, which have been deformed with time. A
current, ignorant or self-seeking, is spreading the idea that being a free thinker means to think
whatever you like. We have to clarify things, and that will be undoubtedly one of the most difficult
and necessary battles. We should not confuse freedom of thinking and expression in the legal
framework provided by each society, with being a free thinker, which is a specific manner to
express his / her freedom of thinking, a method, a conception of a matrix of thinking.

This matrix of thinking should be ruled by a central and humanist idea: dignity of ma in every field.
Consequently, in conformity with the 1904 Declaration of Rome, we should defend freedom of
thinking and the secular, democratic and social ideal, rejecting altogether the religious impression
on the public space, privilege and abuse in politics and exploitation of man, woman and child in the
economic field.

Naturally this means also gleaning through other battles which have high values. I do not want to
linger on examples, but to accompany the process of freedom and social opening, the right for
women to govern their own bodies, or the citizens’ rights of same sex couples to have rights, the
rights of elderly people and children to live a complete life.

There are multiple reasons for free thought fight: whether action against la corruption, cronyism, or
the use of power to silence expression, so common among Latin American populism in political
matter; or signal the presence of economic mafias behind current phenomena, such as drug or
human trafficking, which targets mainly women and teenagers, causing destruction and tragic
social and family situations.

Dear friends, we have great expectations for the Free Thought revival. In these days of disaffection
and despair, with a clear light that has never ceased to be present in spite of the darkening that
dogmatic absolutism has attempted to impose for ages, it is an ethical duty for the Free Thought to
shine in our horizons.

Against all types of drifting which occur in this twenty-first century, a road of light is opening. It will
be a Humanist fight. Let give it the strength of our courage, the dedication and the clarity of ideas.

So let it be. I kiss you all and rely upon us.