Who are free thinkers

Free thinkers

“Freethinker” is the collective term for atheist organizations that are critical of the churches and the practice of the Christian faith. The impulse to criticize the church often corresponds to a general criticism of religion, which, however, is emphasized to different degrees. In recent times, these organizations have increasingly been claiming to represent the interests of all people who are not affiliated with church or religion. The political commitment of these movements is mostly aimed at ending the prominent position of the large Christian churches in society.

Freethinking arose towards the end of the 19th century. The German Freethinkers Association was founded in 1881. At the end of the 20s of the 20th century, various organizations came together for the first time to form an umbrella organization oriented towards social democracy, which from 1930 German Freethinkers Association (DFV) was called. At the same time, the KPD had its members to found one in 1929 Association of Proletarian Freethinkers in Germany called. The associations were divided among themselves, but together they should have counted up to 600,000 members. In 1932/33 the various freethinker organizations were banned and their associations expropriated. After the end of the war, the German Freethinkers Association was re-established in Hamburg in 1945. Today, the freethinkers organized in the DFV have around 3,000 members with an outdated membership structure and are almost politically ineffective.

From the German Freethinkers Association - Headquarters Berlin West went to the beginning of 1993 Humanistic Association of Germany (HVD). The HVD currently has around 10,000 members nationwide. A distinction has to be made between the “classic” free thinkers and the positions represented by the HVD. The free thinkers see themselves as a ideological community, whose members stand up for “ideological self-determination”. “They promote and disseminate a non-religious, rationally based worldview that is based on a way of thinking free of prejudices, dogmas and taboos and is based on scientifically founded knowledge Freedom of belief ”, and they demand“ the consistent separation of state and church as well as church and school ”, which specifically means the abolition of religious education and the dissolution of the theological faculties. They also demand that the church's responsible military chaplaincy be discontinued and that church tax may no longer be collected by the tax offices.

However, the HVD is introducing a reorientation in the “classic” freethinker positions: It no longer calls for the abolition of religious education, church military chaplaincy, the theological faculties, etc., but claims comparable special regulations for itself. The HVD in Berlin, for example, offers so-called “life science lessons”. The most important and best-known field of activity of the free-thinking movements are the youth consecrations and youth celebrations.

From a Christian perspective, the answers given by freethinkers to central questions of human existence, such as the meaning of life, suffering and death, are not convincing. Not only in borderline situations, but also as a basis for determining values ​​and life orientation, they appear to be unsustainable.


Andreas Fincke, free thinker - free spirit - free religious. Organizations critical of the church in Germany since 1989, EZW-Text 162, Berlin 2002
Ders., What believes in who does not believe, life and world views of free thinkers, non-denominational and atheists in self-statements, EZW-Text 176, Berlin 2004

Dr. Andreas Fincke, March 2005