Name: Bobbie Howard.
Where I live: Scottsdale, Ariz., (but I’m not one of those anti-everybody-who-isn’t-a-WASP wackos).
Where and when I was born: New Haven, Conn., 1942. My parents lived in Old Lyme. They divorced when I was 10, and my mother and stepfather took us to the Caribbean when I was 12. My stepfather ran a small hotel (the only hotel) on the island of Bonaire, where we were the only Americans. My mother helped at the hotel and worked on various ventures like selling fresh mushrooms that she imported. They later ended up with a successful paint store on the island of St. Croix.
Family: I’m happily single now. I have a grown daughter, son-in-law, two grandchildren, two sisters and a brother. I am the only admitted atheist and liberal in my family.
Education: Five years of boarding schools, including three years in a strict Anglican girls school on the British island of Barbados; two years of college in Florida; various noncredit courses (mostly beginner computer-related) taken at community colleges in the Phoenix area.
Occupation: I’m retired now, for good I hope! I worked 45-plus years, mostly in clerical positions. I was a corporate instructor for Avis Rent-A-Car for five years, based in Atlanta but traveling to many other cities. I worked as EDI (electronic data interchange) coordinator at three companies.
How I got where I am today: From ages 12 to 24, I lived on four different Caribbean islands. On the first island, Barbados, the Anglican church (affiliated with the boarding school) would not accept my American baptism from a Congregational church in Connecticut, so I was forced to be baptized again at age 13. This was so humiliating and started me wondering if there really was a god.
Where I’m headed: I’m a very contented atheist and introvert. I hope to be able to continue to enjoy life.
Person in history I admire and why: I love the quotes of Robert Ingersoll. That man told it “like it was” years before doing that was acceptable. I also was very impressed by a woman who was a volunteer with me at a humane society in Atlanta when I was in my 30s. One day, she just stated very frankly that she was an atheist. I thought “Gee, she’s a good person and an atheist! There must be many other people like her.”
A quotation I like: “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” (Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman statesman, 5 BCE–65 CE)
These are a few of my favorite things: Reading, mostly mysteries and action thrillers that take place in exotic locales. I treat myself to lunch at least once a week. I take my current book, and I’m happy as a clam. People look at me with sympathy and say, “But aren’t you lonely?” and I say “No!” I’m very sociable when the setting calls for it, but I’m perfectly fine by myself. I even took a cruise by myself and had a blast.
These are not: People who assume that I am religious.
My doubts about religion started: Age 12 or 13.
Why I’m a freethinker: Reality makes sense. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s easier to deal with if one uses facts.
Ways I promote freethought: Back in the ’70s, I wrote letters to the editor in Atlanta and subsequently received death threats. My then-husband and daughter begged me to stop. I’ve written to my local baseball team and asked them to not do the “God Bless America” thing. I belong to about four other secular groups, and I send emails to politicians, etc., about church-state transgressions.
Bobbie Howard is at far left, back row, in Miss Hazel Poole’s class at Codrington School in the 1950s in Barbados.