Tags: Atheist | Pioneers | Honored | Texas

Atheist Pioneers Honored in Texas

Friday, 01 November 2002 12:00 AM

The so-called Freethinkers built colonies in Comfort, Welfare, Boerne and other locations north of San Antonio. Freethinkers Association of Central Texas will erect a monument today at Ingenhuett Store on Comfort's main street, honoring the atheists.

"They have been swept under the rug, basically kept out of history, and I don't think that's fair," "Freethinkers" spokeswoman Catherine Fahrenger said Friday, comparing "Freethinkers" in American history to what until recently were the little-known accomplishments of American women and minorities.

Fahrenger said atheists are the last group of people in the United States whose accomplishments have been ignored.

The "Freethinkers" who founded Comfort and other towns fled political and religious oppression in their homeland to carve out new lives in the American wilderness. They placed a great emphasis on education and created their own schools and libraries.

This is the second time "Freethinkers" have erected a monument to the German atheists in Comfort. After a local outcry, a granite monument dedicated in 1998 was removed with a dump truck a year later and deposited on "private property" well away from public view.

"We finally got enough money together, we have a new cenotaph, and we're going to have a new celebration this Saturday," Fahrenger said.

She said the actions of those who oppose a monument to the German atheists are not as open-minded as "Freethinkers." She said when the descendants of the original atheists wanted to build a church in Comfort, the atheists donated the money to build the first church in the community, which didn't open until 1889.

"Freethinker" colonies were largely wiped out in massacres committed by Confederate sympathizers at the beginning of the Civil War. Unlike the rest of Texas, the Hill Country remained staunchly pro-Union.

Another monument, the Treue der Union Monument, was rededicated in 1996 to those who lost their lives.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The so-called Freethinkers built colonies in Comfort, Welfare, Boerne and other locations north of San Antonio. Freethinkers Association of Central Texas will erect a monument today at Ingenhuett Store on Comfort's main street, honoring the atheists. They have been swept...
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Friday, 01 November 2002 12:00 AM
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