Lucretia Mott’s Freethought Gospel

An OLLI Course at the Reuter Center, University of North Carolina, Asheville

Spring 2019 (six weeks, Fridays 9-11am)

Instructor:  Chris Highland 

Chris Highland is a humanist freethinker with a background in ministry, interfaith chaplaincy and non-profit work.  Author of A Freethinker’s Gospel and other books, Chris also writes the weekly “Highland Views” column for the Citizen-Times.  He has taught at OLLI since 2016.  His website is

Course Description:

Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) was a Quaker preacher, abolitionist, women’s rights leader and peace activist.  She was also a proud heretic in the tradition of freethought, hobnobbing with radicals such as Stanton, Garrison and Douglass.  Some called her a dangerous disturber and infidel.

We will explore this amazing woman’s thought, how it changed the course of American history, and how her voice remains relevant and pragmatic for our time.

All readings will be provided on the course website.

Course Outline (All Class Readings will be posted here)

Week One (3/29):  Dangerous Ideas (overview of the history of Freethought)

Streams of Freethought

Selection from “Valiant Friend”

Selections from Sermon to Med Students

Declaration of Independence (opening words)

Freethought: A Crack in the Chain

Week Two (4/5):  Lucretia Mott:  Life

Selected Speeches and Sermons

A Reformer’s Life

Society of Friends (Quakers)

Elias Hicks–Radical Quaker

Skip 4/12 (NO CLASS)

Week Three (4/19):  Early Associations

Selected Speeches and Sermons (primarily pp. 6-16)

William Lloyd Garrison and Mott (1833)- (Faulkner, pages 64-67)

Frederick Douglass on Religion in America (Narrative, 1845)

Philadelphia’s Revolutionary (Video)

In Class:  Associations, Aims and Accomplishments

Week Four (4/26):  Women’s Rights/Human Rights

Selected Speeches and Sermons (primarily pp. 20-31)

Stanton on Mott

Sojourner Truth

Seneca Falls Convention (Video)

Week Five (5/3):  Circle of Freethinking Friends

Week Six (5/10):  Her Voice for Today


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