By: Glen E. Lich

Type: General Entry

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: April 7, 2016

Freethinkers (German Freidenker) is a term used to describe some nineteenth-century German intellectuals. The term had special currency in the Kendall County communities of Sisterdale and Comfort, where freethinkers formed the majority. Apart from its literal meaning, which suggests an attitude of liberalism unencumbered by dogma and the status quo, the term is also understood to connote agnosticism, if not atheism. However, many of the early freethinkers in Texas were neither true agnostics nor true atheists. Better stated, they considered the notion of Deity irrelevant and opposed clerics and churches; if they acknowledged the existence of a traditional Judeo-Christian God, they did not do so with friendliness or affection but as the impatient successors of such belief systems. A Freethinkers' Society held regular meetings in Sisterdale during the 1850s. Freethinking, which had various sources, among them early nineteenth-century Romanticism and science as well as the Turner movement and early communism, lasted in Comfort until the 1970s.

Glen E. Lich and Dona B. Reeves, eds., German Culture in Texas (Boston: Twayne, 1980). Glen E. Lich, The German Texans (San Antonio: University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, 1981).

  • Peoples
  • Germans
  • Organizations
  • Religion

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Glen E. Lich, “Freethinkers,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022,

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September 1, 1995
April 7, 2016