California Freethought Day

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$5,000 Goal

Freethought Day dates back to 1692, during the time of the Salem Witch Trials. Massachusetts Governor William Phips wrote, on October 12, about the quagmire that the trials had degenerated into, in part by a reliance on "evidence" of a non-objective nature and especially "spectral evidence" in which the accusers claimed to see devils and other phantasms consorting with the accused.

Our annual event, California Freethought Day, started as Sacramento Freethought Day in 2001 on the steps of the Sacramento County Courthouse Plaza and now takes over the north steps of the California State Capitol Building, usually on the second Sunday of October.

The event now boasts an entire day's worth of community engagement, live entertainment, motivational and educational speakers, volunteer recognition, and more. Our event reaches hundreds of local atheists, Humanists, and other freethinkers -- and attracts an audience from throughout California and the country.

Notable speakers at California Freethought Day include Senators Richard Pan, Athena Salman, and Juan Mendez; the "Friendly Atheist" blogger Hemant Mehta; executive director of NCSE Dr. Eugenie Scott; hip hop artist Greydon Square; Representatives Jared Huffman, Jerry McNerney, and Zoe Lofgren; secular activist leaders including Aron Ra, Sean Faircloth, Annie Laurie Gaylor, and Mandisa Thomas; authors including Greta Christina and Phil Zuckerman; and entertainers including Shelley Segal, Victor Harris, and Brian Dalton.


Our mission is to host an annual festival that encourages freedom of speech and thought, civic engagement, enthusiasm for science, social justice, and the separation of church and state.



Our annual expenses average approximately $12,000 -- primarily from speaker/entertainment travel and fees, advertising, and volunteer lunches.

Additional funding would allow us to solicit more exclusive, harder-to-book speakers which will help draw additional attendees so they can hear our message about secular activism.

Funding would also allow us to reach more potential attendees through common advertising channels, including a billboard, newspaper display ads, public radio underwriting, and more.


For the past several years we have held an annual high school essay scholarship contest, inviting California students to write their thoughts relating to that year's theme.

In 2020, we asked "What [do you think] has made the biggest impact on voter turnout?" and received over 50 thoughtful, inspiring responses. Our volunteer panel selected a winner who received a $1,000 award and read her essay to our audience (via video stream).

With additional funding, we could offer a larger prize -- or multiple prizes -- that would attract more applicants. We view each applicant as an opportunity to encourage the youth to think about our core values.


Every year (outside of a pandemic) we need dozens of volunteers to help facilitate our weekend activities from setup and decorations to registration and book sales. We are always looking to expand our base of volunteers -- including committee members.


Every other year, California Freethought Day offers a Secular Leadership Day which attracts dozens of organizational leaders throughout the state. The day-long event helps build skills that leaders need to make their groups more successful in their mission and has been run by capacity-building professionals.

We hope to expand this program in 2021 to provide travel and lodging scholarships to hopeful attendees while also making our program more engaging.

Organization Data


Organization name

California Freethought Day

other names


Tax id (EIN)


Mission Category

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy

Operating Budget


Organization Need

Funding: Program, Funding: Unrestricted, Volunteers

Demographics Served

BIPOC, Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx, Immigrants & refugees, Individuals with disabilities, LGBTQ+, Low-income individuals/families, Youth & Children


PO Box 15464
Sacramento, CA 95851

Service areas 0


Sacramento, CA, US



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