I don’t know anything about the organization, but I think the concept of “freethinking” in itself is not free.
In a quick Google search, I glanced at a website that made the connection of a belief-less system.
There is a lot of therapeutical value in that sort of thing, even if not the flavor they are pushing. Luckily I got the idea from a person who was at least sensitive to Christianity, having been an Anglican preacher in the past.
The idea is that a belief system, if relied on as a “security blanket” is in itself an “image” of God, to which if we cling, we are still clinging so we are not truly “free” the way Christ has us free.
For example, Paul says that for him all things are lawful, but not all are beneficial. Jesus frequently said things that people thought you “just couldn’t say.”
The allegedly idolatrous clinging to certain beliefs causes mental anxiety, particularly in the areas of what to do about personal interactions and how do we police each other.
Actually I see similarities between Christian Contemplation and the best parts of the “no religion” lectures I’ve heard. The idea is you achieve interior silence, so that you can meet the moment head on and not have “baggage” you’re tied to and react. This is also I believe a common way of looking at things among some zen koans, where a student who does the wrong thing is praised over one who moves immediately but does something useful.
The key here, I think, is that to be led by the Holy Spirit you have to get past the literal interpretations of the Bible and the cumbersome aspects of having to try to discover Truth from rehashing words and teachings at any given time, causing hesitation and anxiety especially in a situation where immediate action is called for.
What the “freethinkers” probably don’t tell you, and that I do believe considering I believe in both the kataphatic (trying to discover what God is and what He would have us do) and the apophatic (mystical tradition which acknowledge comlete unknowing of the divine because by definition if we know it, then it can’t really be a “complete” image of God but a partial one we honor) of the Church I don’t see this as a particular problem.
The “freethinkers” can learn to reduce anxiety, but they coiuld be missing one crucial part that the mystical aspects of Catholicism could not only help them with, but improve them. (Hint Hint, Holy Father, have you heard my cry yet via my email to feed this wonderful half of Church tradition to the active lives more?) By denying our selves which are built on societal interaction built upon our original sin, we learn to rely on God and lose emotional anxiety. By studying Church teachings and receiving the sacraments, we actually conform our minds and hearts into that of Christ, so that the laws become written on our heart and are available for immediate use without having to consciously think of them and go through intellectual exercise.
Therefore, my first reaction is not that these people are evil, but that they have attached themselves to a partial truth.
If Catholics were better informed about mysticism, contemplative prayer, and the spiritual journey, we could help these people embrace their own beliefs while maybe helping inject some of our own.
This type of emotional freedom is only a shadow of the freedom that Christ brought us, but again since western religion is so geared toward the kataphatic tradition, which involves behavior and tradition and dogma, those who seek spiritual transformation often see theological arguments instead of apparent peace – because they do not see the true peace that spiritual seekers have because they are all in the monesteries.
Vatican II said holiness is for everyone, and I love to spread the word about contemplative prayer. We can have all the peace the freethinkers wish to find, and more, but people don’t know that so some of them turn to eastern religions, looking for methods of transformation other than academic ones which don’t work of the pharisees would not have been so often at fault.