Freethought is not a liberal construction, as many would want us to believe. I know that some out there believe that a conservative in no way could be a freethinker, but I beg to differ.
I don’t know what definition of Freethought you use, but this for me is the best one I’ve found and it doesn’t have a test for any particular political or social ideology:
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.
This quote is from James Hastingsin the Encyclopedia of Religion.
I think the reason most don’t believe that a conservative can be a freethinker is because most equate conservative to Republican. It doesn’t. Let me give you two quotes from my favorite conservative politician, who was also a Republican:
Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.
And this one as well:
The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom…. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are?… I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”
If you haven’t already guessed, that was Barry Goldwater. You know, the guy portrayed in the 1964 Presidential election by Lyndon Johnson as someone that was going to instigate a nuclear WWIII. Interesting how he predicted what we’re seeing today, isn’t it? Those that are not guided by reason have taken over what always has been a nut house. I apply this to both parties by the way because if you believe that one side is for reason and the other is not, you need to pay closer attention.
Being a conservative does not equate to being a nut job. there are plenty of conservative, true conservatives that guide themselves by reason, but as I used to be, afraid to raise their heads and call out the neo’s because they dominate the “conservative” movement. Those people that you hear on the news or read in various other media that claim to be conservatives are not because they allow their “faith” to guide their actions. Whether you’re liberal or conservative we need to be guided by reason, not any specific religious, political or social ideology.
It’s important for all of us to be skeptics first. For me, being a skeptic has opened a lot of doors of understanding and helped me to discern truth from gibberish. That makes me a freethinker. I refuse to be influenced or impeded by others ideology.