Freethinker, n. A miscreant who wickedly refuses to look out of a Priest's eyes and persists in looking into them with too searching a glance. Freethinkers were formerly shot, burned, boiled, racked, flogged, cropped, drowned, hanged, disemboweled, impaled, beheaded, skinned.
With the lapse of time our holy religion has fallen into the hands of merciful and humane expounders, and the poor Freethinker's punishment is entrusted to Him who said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay." Here on earth the misguided culprit is only threatened, pursued, reviled, avoided, silenced, cursed, insulted, robbed, cheated, harassed, derided, slandered.
2005 Update: A maverick who, having navigated an unmarked path by constellations they name themselves, driven forward by independent will and fierce curiousity, comes finally to the party line. A Valedictorian reading "The Road Less Traveled" to the assembly.
Lucinda, thanks for the alert.
Tom, thanks for the help baking.
Don Swaim at The Ambrose Bierce Site made yellow cake.