On June 8, 2021, the American Humanist Association and secular organizations throughout the country will come together for Thomas Paine Day, hosted by the Freethought Society. Each year this day celebrates the life and work of Thomas Paine and serves as an opportunity to promote the principles of reason, freethinking, and transnational human rights to which Paine dedicated his life.
Paine was an English-American writer, regarded as one of the greatest political propagandists in history. Born in England, Paine emigrated to the British colonies with help from Benjamin Franklin. He arrived in Philadelphia just as the conflict between the colonists and Great Britain was at its height. His experiences inspired him to write his infamous 1776 pamphlet Common Sense. It advocated for independence from Britain and claimed that “in America, law is king.” It was a bestselling work, and is largely thought to have instilled sentiments among the populace that led to the Revolutionary War.
Years later, Paine wrote The Age of Reason. One of his most famous works, it critiqued institutionalized religion and the Bible. It exposed corruption in the Church and its attempts to gain political influence, promoted reason over revelation, and suggested that the Bible was a work of fiction, rather than divinely inspired. In fear of its potentially revolutionary ideas, the British government prosecuted those who tried to print or distribute it.
Paine authored many more influential books and pamphlets, but it was The Age of Reason that ultimately ostracized him. By the time of his death, he was abandoned by friends and alienated from society for his ridicule of Christianity. Now, over two hundred years later, he is remembered as a political activist and one of the “founding fathers” of the United States. To this day, his works inspire many to strive for political, economic, and social advancement.
If you’re a fan of Paine’s writings and life, or are just interested in learning more, join us for Thomas Paine Day on June 8th. Celebrations kick off at 3:45 PM PDT/6:45 PM EDT with a Thomas Paine-themed concert. Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) will open the evening with a short speech after which representatives from your favorite freethought organizations will share their thoughts on the life and work of Thomas Paine. Attendees can also expect an update on the Thomas Paine statue project from the sculptor himself. There will be opportunities to ask questions and participate in discussions, and of course, toasts and favorite Paine quotations are welcome.