Freethought philosophy and practice spring from the conviction that opinions should be based on logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than on authority, tradition, or religious and political dogma. Modern freethought can be traced to the execution in 1600 of the Dominican friar, teacher, author, mathematician, and astronomer Giordano Bruno by the Inquisition.

The pansy, pictured to the left in some of its varied colors, is the long-established and enduring symbol of freethought, its usage inaugurated in the literature of the American Secular Union in the late 1800s.The pansy derives its name from the the French word for thought – pensée; it was so named because the flower resembles a human face, and in mid-to-late summer it nods forward as if deep in thought. [Source: Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation]