Brisbane Freethought Association

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Name: Brisbane Freethought Association

Group: Scholarly Society

Type: Institutional Location

Years at Location: 1876-1886

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Brisbane Freethought Association was founded in 1884, and was the renamed Freethought Literary & Debating Society in 1886.

Impact on Brisbane Society

The history of ‘Free-Thought’ has been poorly written up in Australia. One of the significant reasons for the oversight is the lack of philosophical investigation into the thinking. The terms, or ‘freethought’, ‘secular’, ‘rationalist’, and occasionally ‘progressive’ and/or ‘spiritualist’, reflected different beliefs and motivations but the original organisers, and later amateur historians, tended to take an ecumenical view of those who rejected conventional religion. The effort to hide the polemics of thought is an attempt to de-emphasis the large number of schisms and ‘backdoor’ exiting which were occurring among members. The problem did not stop until dissent was rounded up into the more conventional and better organised British Rationalist Association (originally the Rationalist Press Association, 1885).

Citations

Dahlitz, Ray. Secular Who's Who: a Biographical Directory of Freethinkers, Secularists, Rationalists, Humanists and Others involved in Australia's Secular Movement from 1850 onwards, R. Dahlitz, Balwyn, Vic, 1994.

Shaw, Barry; Metcalf, William James. (ed) Brisbane: Training, Teaching and Turmoil: Tertiary Education 1825-2018, Brisbane History Group, Salisbury, Qld, Boolarong Press, Moorooka, Qld, 2018.

Further research is underway.

Image Citations

Queensland Insurance Company Building, 1884. From The Lost Heritage of Eagle Street by John W. East [espace.library.uq.edu.au]

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