Who We Are
FreeOK is a non-profit incorporation based in Oklahoma which focuses on community activism, and the growth, support and recognition of the local freethought and secular community. Our activities every year culminate in an annual Freethought Convention hosted alternately between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, OK. All operations are run by a 100% volunteer staff.
“Freethought” is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that beliefs and opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, revelation or dogma. Freethought holds that individuals should not accept ideas proposed as truth without recourse to knowledge and reason. Thus, freethinkers strive to build their opinions on the basis of facts, scientific inquiry, and logical principles, independent of any logical fallacies or the intellectually limiting effects of authority, confirmation bias, cognitive bias, conventional wisdom, popular culture, prejudice, sectarianism, tradition, urban legend, and all other dogmas. Regarding religion, freethinkers hold that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of supernatural phenomena.
The purpose of FreeOK is to be the visible example of secular humanism in action toward the betterment of the Oklahoma community. Naturally, we also aim to promote freethought and unite and grow the community of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, secularists, deists, non-religious, secular humanists and any other labels freethinkers commonly use from across the region.
A Brief-ish History
FreeOK began as an annual, local freethought convention, designed to bring notable freethinkers on the education and activism circuit to the state for a fun and informational day for the community. It maintained that model for the two years it was held in Tulsa, OK and blossomed into a celebrated event throughout the entire region, with over 800 total attendees from across the country attending the first two years. It began humbly as a failed attempt of a localized meet up.
In November of 2010, Will Poire, the newly-appointed president of the Atheist Community of Tulsa (ACT) began planning for a 2011 National Day of Reason celebration, lecture, and blood and food drive. The prospective draw for the event was The Atheist Experience’s Matt Dillahunty. While Dillahunty did give a tentative ‘yes’, he was cautious to give an authoritative affirmation due to his speaking at the American Atheists Convention in Iowa scheduled just two weeks prior to the May 5 celebration. Schedule discrepancies set the date for the first convention on July 30, 2011. Ideas for the first speakers were crowd-sourced in the ACT group, and included Dillahunty, Aron Ra, Seth Andrews, Abbie Smith and Dr. William Morgan. The first event hosted 318 secularists, and raised over $5,000 to build a water well in Malawi through Charity: Water.
The 2012 event hosted 505 secularists from around the country, garnered sponsorship from the American Humanists Association and Oklahoma Atheists. Speakers included Seth Andrews, Abbie Smith, David Silverman, Eddie Tabash, Hemant Mehta, Teresa MacBain, and Caleb Lack.
Will Poire stepped down from FreeOK prior to the 2013 convention, and the event’s direction was headed up by Aimee Breeze. The June 22, 2013 event was held at the Cox Convention Center, for the first time in downtown Oklahoma City. The line-up included Jamila Bey, Dale McGowan, Sean Faircloth, Zack Kopplin, Emily Boyer, Seth Andrews and Dr. Lawrence Krauss. 564 secularists joined us for that one.
Just a month prior to the the 2013 convention, Oklahoma was rocked by a string of devastating tornadoes and floods. The storms effectively shut down the metro area of Moore, OK, as well as outlying areas south and east of the city. Volunteer clean-up and resource efforts organized by FreeOK Social Media & Events Coordinator, Kai Tancredi were set up, unifying the local secularist groups to assist in disaster relief. FreeOK became the visible humanist organization on the ground in the face of considerable press using the natural disasters to call out the absence of secular humanists as being absent in the recovery effort. Through food donations from local vendors, we were able to provide breakfasts to first responders in Moore, and network with freethinking businesses in the OKC area to run resources and multiple groups to assist with clean up and site organization in outlying areas. The convention in 2013 was used as a Literacy Drive book drop location to benefit the Moore schools impacted and destroyed by the storms, gathering over 300 books to assist in re-stocking school libraries.
Atheist Rebecca Vitsmun was featured in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN after losing her home in the the Moore, OK tornado. Her response to his question about her “thanking God” for her family’s survival is the now-famouse “I’m actually an atheist,” effectively vaulting Vitsmun to hero status in the eyes of atheists the world over. On May 23rd, FreeOK launched a fundraiser on behalf of Vitsmun using her quote on t-shirts that sold over 1,000 in three weeks of sales across twenty different countries. The “Actually” Campaign, as it’s now known, continues to be used as a fundraiser for secular humanist projects in the community, with a video campaign aimed at collapsing the negative stigma surrounding atheists and showing those too afraid to “out” themselves that the community exists.
FreeOK’s mission has expanded beyond the scope of the annual convention, and continues to work visibly on behalf of the local secular community to better Oklahoma through civil service, disaster relief, education, the promotion of equality, outreach and activism. We are actively seeking partners, sponsors and volunteers to help shine a brighter light on the works of those who are good without gods.