Bible Contradictions by Dan Barker (August 1985)

By Dan BarkerBible Contradictions

PAUL SAID, "God is not the author of confusion," (I Corinthians 14:33), yet never has a book produced more confusion than the bible! There are hundreds of denominations and sects, all using the "inspired Scriptures" to prove their conflicting doctrines.

Why do trained theologians differ? Why do educated translators disagree over Greek and Hebrew meanings? Why all the confusion? Shouldn't a document that was "divinely inspired" by an omniscient and omnipotent deity be as clear as possible?

"If the trumpet give an uncertain sound," Paul wrote in I Corinthians 14:8, "who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air." Exactly! Paul should have practiced what he preached. For almost two millennia, the bible has been producing a most "uncertain sound."

The problem is not with human limitations, as some claim. The problem is the bible itself. People who are free of theological bias notice that the bible contains hundreds of discrepancies. Should it surprise us when such a literary and moral mish-mash, taken seriously, causes so much discord? Here is a brief sampling of biblical contradictions.

Should we kill?

Exodus 20:13 "Thou shalt not kill."

Leviticus 24:17 "And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death."
vs.

Exodus 32:27 "Thus sayeth the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, . . . and slay every man his brother, . . . companion, . . . neighbor."

I Samuel 6:19 " . . . and the people lamented because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter."

I Samuel 15:2,3,7,8 "Thus saith the Lord . . . Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. . . . And Saul smote the Amalekites . . . and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword."

Numbers 15:36 "And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses."
Hosea 13:16 "they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with children shall be ripped up."
For a discussion of the defense that the Commandments prohibit only murder, see "Murder, He Wrote", chapter 27 (Losing Faith In Faith: From Preacher To Atheist).

Should we tell lies?

Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness."

Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord."
vs.

I Kings 22:23 "The Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee."

II Thessalonians 2:11 "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie."

Also, compare Joshua 2:4-6 with James 2:25.

Should we steal?

Exodus 20:15 "Thou shalt not steal."

Leviticus 19:13 "Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him."

vs.

Exodus 3:22 "And ye shall spoil the Egyptians."

Exodus 12:35-36 "And they spoiled [plundered, NRSV] the Egyptians."

Luke 19:29-34 "[Jesus] sent two of his disciples, Saying, Go ye into the village . . . ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him. . . . And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? And they said, The Lord hath need of him."
I was taught as a child that when you take something without asking for it, that is stealing.

Shall we keep the sabbath?

Exodus 20:8 "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy."

Exodus 31:15 "Whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death."

Numbers 15:32,36 "And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. . . . And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses."
vs.

Isaiah 1:13 "The new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity."

John 5:16 "And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day."

Colossians 2:16 "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days."
Shall we make graven images?

Exodus 20:4 "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven . . . earth . . . water."

Leviticus 26:1 "Ye shall make ye no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone."

Deuteronomy 27:15 "Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image."
vs.

Exodus 25:18 "And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them."

I Kings 7:15,16,23,25 "For he [Solomon] cast two pillars of brass . . . and two chapiters of molten brass . . . And he made a molten sea . . . it stood upon twelve oxen . . . [and so on]"

Are we saved through works?

Ephesians 2:8,9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith . . . not of works."

Romans 3:20,28 "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight."

Galatians 2:16 "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ."
vs.

James 2:24 "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

Matthew 19:16-21 "And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he [Jesus] said unto him . . . keep the commandments. . . . The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven."
The common defense here is that "we are saved by faith and works." But Paul said "not of works."

Should good works be seen?

Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works."

I Peter 2:12 "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that . . . they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation."
vs.

Matthew 6:1-4 "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them . . . that thine alms may be in secret."

Matthew 23:3,5 "Do not ye after their [Pharisees'] works. . . . all their works they do for to be seen of men."
Should we own slaves?

Leviticus 25:45-46 "Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, . . . and they shall be your possession . . . they shall be your bondmen forever."

Genesis 9:25 "And he [Noah] said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren."

Exodus 21:2,7 "If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. . . . And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the manservants do."

Joel 3:8 "And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the Lord hath spoken it."

Luke 12:47,48 [Jesus speaking] "And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes."

Colossians 3:22 "Servants, obey in all things your masters."

vs.

Isaiah 58:6 "Undo the heavy burdens . . . let the oppressed go free, . . . break every yoke."

Matthew 23:10 "Neither be ye called Masters: for one is your Master, even Christ."

Pro-slavery bible verses were cited by many churches in the South during the Civil War, and were used by some theologians in the Dutch Reformed Church to justify apartheid in South Africa. There are more pro-slavery verses than cited here.

Does God change his mind?

Malachi 3:6 "For I am the Lord; I change not."

Numbers 23:19 "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent."

Ezekiel 24:14 "I the Lord have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent."

James 1:17 " . . . the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

vs.

Exodus 32:14 "And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people."

Genesis 6:6,7 "And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth . . . And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth . . . for it repenteth me that I have made him."

Jonah 3:10 ". . . and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."

See also II Kings 20:1-7, Numbers 16:20-35, Numbers 16:44-50.

See Genesis 18:23-33, where Abraham gets God to change his mind about the minimum number of righteous people in Sodom required to avoid destruction, bargaining down from fifty to ten. (An omniscient God must have known that he was playing with Abraham's hopes for mercy--he destroyed the city anyway.)

Are we punished for our parents' sins?

Exodus 20:5 "For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation." (Repeated in Deuteronomy 5:9)

Exodus 34:6-7 " . . . The Lord God, merciful and gracious, . . . that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation."

I Corinthians 15:22 "For as in Adam all die, . . ."

vs.

Ezekiel 18:20 "The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father."

Deuteronomy 24:16 "The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin."

Is God good or evil?

Psalm 145:9 "The Lord is good to all."

Deuteronomy 32:4 "a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he."

vs.

Isaiah 45:7 "I make peace and create evil. I the Lord do all these things." See "Out of Context" for more on Isaiah 45:7.

Lamentations 3:38 "Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?"

Jeremiah 18:11 "Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you."

Ezekiel 20:25,26 "I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live. And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the Lord."

Does God tempt people?

James 1:13 "Let no man say . . . I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man."
vs.

Genesis 22:1 "And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham."

Is God peaceable?

Romans 15:33 "The God of peace."

Isaiah 2:4 ". . . and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
vs.

Exodus 15:3 "The Lord is a man of war."

Joel 3:9-10 "Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong."
Was Jesus peaceable?

John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you."

Acts 10:36 "The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ."

Luke 2:14 " . . . on earth peace, good will toward men."

vs.

Matthew 10:34 "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household."

Luke 22:36 "Then said he unto them, . . . he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."

Was Jesus trustworthy?

John 8:14 "Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true."
vs.

John 5:31 "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true."

"Record" and "witness" in the above verses are the same Greek word (martyria).

Shall we call people names?

Matthew 5:22 "Whosoever shall say Thou fool, shall be in danger of hellfire." [Jesus speaking]
vs.

Matthew 23:17 "Ye fools and blind." [Jesus speaking]

Psalm 14:1 "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."

Has anyone seen God?

John 1:18 "No man hath seen God at any time."

Exodus 33:20 "Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live."

John 6:46 "Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God [Jesus], he hath seen the Father."

I John 4:12 "No man hath seen God at any time."

vs.

Genesis 32:30 "For I have seen God face to face."

Exodus 33:11 "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend."

Isaiah 6:1 "In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple."

Job 42:5 "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee."

How many Gods are there?

Deuteronomy 6:4 "The Lord our God is one Lord."

vs.

Genesis 1:26 "And God said, Let us make man in our image."

Genesis 3:22 "And the Lord God said, Behold, the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil."

I John 5:7 "And there are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."

It does no good to claim that "Let us" is the magisterial "we." Such usage implies inclusivity of all authorities under a king's leadership. Invoking the Trinity solves nothing because such an idea is more contradictory than the problem it attempts to solve.

Are we all sinners?

Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

Romans 3:10 "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one."

Psalm 14:3 "There is none that doeth good, no, not one."

vs.

Job 1:1 "There was a man . . . who name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright."

Genesis 7:1 "And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation."
Luke 1:6 "And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless."
How old was Ahaziah?

II Kings 8:26 "Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign."

vs.

II Chronicles 22:2 "Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign."

Should we swear an oath?

Numbers 30:2 "If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath . . . he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth."

Genesis 21:22-24,31 " . . . swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me . . . And Abraham said, I will swear. . . . Wherefore he called that place Beersheba ["well of the oath"]; because there they sware both of them."

Hebrews 6:13-17 "For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself . . . for men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath."

See also Genesis 22:15-19, Genesis 31:53, and Judges 11:30-39.

vs.

Matthew 5:34-37 "But I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by heaven . . . nor by the earth . . . . Neither shalt thou swear by thy head . . . . But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."

James 5:12 ". . . swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation."

When was Jesus crucified?

Mark 15:25 "And it was the third hour, and they crucified him."

vs.

John 19:14-15 "And about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out . . . crucify him."

It is an ad hoc defense to claim that there are two methods of reckoning time here. It has never been shown that this is the case.

Shall we obey the law?

I Peter 2:13 "Submit yourself to every ordinance of man . . . to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors."

Matthew 22:21 "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's." See also Romans 13:1,7 and Titus 3:1.
vs.

Acts 5:29 "We ought to obey God rather then men."

How many animals on the ark?

Genesis 6:19 "And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark."

Genesis 7:8-9 "Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah."

Genesis 7:15 "And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life."
vs.

Genesis 7:2 "Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female."

Were women and men created equal?

Genesis 1:27 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
vs.

Genesis 2:18,23 "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. . . . And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."

Were trees created before humans?

Genesis 1:12-31 "And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: . . . And the evening and the morning were the third day. . . . And God said, Let us make man in our image . . . And the evening and the morning were the sixth day."
vs.

Genesis 2:5-9 "And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. .Ê.ÊAnd the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground . . . And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food."

Did Michal have children?

II Samuel 6:23 "Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death."
vs.

II Samuel 21:8 "But the king took the two sons of Rizpah . . . and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul."

How many stalls did Solomon have?

I Kings 4:26 "And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen."
vs.

II Chronicles 9:25 "And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen."
Did Paul's men hear a voice?

Acts 9:7 "And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man."
vs.

Acts 22:9 "And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me."
(For more detail on this contradiction, with a linguistic analysis of the Greek words, see "Did Paul's Men Hear A Voice?" by Dan Barker, published in the The Skeptical Review, 1994 #1)

Is God omnipotent?

Jeremiah 32:27 "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?

Matthew 19:26 "But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
vs.

Judges 1:19 "And the Lord was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron."

Does God live in light?

I Timothy 6:15-16 " . . . the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach . . ."

James 1:17 " . . . the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

John 12:35 "Then Jesus saith unto them, . . . he that walketh in darkness knoweth not wither he goeth."

Job 18:18 "He [the wicked] shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world."

Daniel 2:22 "He [God] knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him." See also Psalm 143:3, II Corinthians 6:14, and Hebrews 12:18-22.
vs.

I Kings 8:12 "Then spake Solomon, The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness." (Repeated in II Chronicles 6:1)

II Samuel 22:12 "And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies."

Psalm 18:11 "He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies."

Psalm 97:1-2 "The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice . . . clouds and darkness are round about him."

Does God accept human sacrifice?

Deuteronomy 12:31 "Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God: for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods."
vs.

Genesis 22:2 "And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."

Exodus 22:29 "For thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors; the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me."
Judges 11:30-39 "And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hand, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon . . . and the Lord delivered them into his hands. . . . And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: . . . And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed."
II Samuel 21:8-14 "But the king [David] took the two sons of Rizpah . . . and the five sons of Michal . . . and he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest . . . And after that God was intreated for the land."

Hebrews 10:10-12 " . . . we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ . . . But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God."

I Corinthians 5:7 " . . . For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us."

Who was Joseph's father?

Matthew 1:16 "And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus."
vs.

Luke 3:23 "And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli."
This chapter was first printed as a "nontract," a freethinkers' version of a (non-proselytizing) tract. Since it was first published, I have received numerous replies from Christians who think that these contradictions are either trivial or easily explained. Yet not a single "explanation" has been convincing. Most of them do little homework, inventing off-the-cuff defenses of what the bible "could have meant," or devising creative explanations that actually make the problem worse. For example, one Christian, agreeing with Eusebius, explained that "Thou shalt not bear false witness" does not prohibit lies, and that God actually wants us to tell falsehoods if it will further the kingdom of heaven.

Many of the defensive attempts are arguments from silence. Some apologists assert that since the writer of John does not say that there were not more women who visited the tomb with Mary, then it is wrong to accuse him of contradicting the other evangelists who say it was a group of women. But this is a non-argument. With this kind of thinking, I could claim that the people who accompanied Mary to the tomb included Mother Teresa, Elvis Presley, and Paul Bunyan. Since the writer of John does not specifically exclude these people, then there is no way to prove that this is not true--if such fragile logic is valid.

All of the above contradictions have been carefully studied, and when necessary the original languages have been consulted. Although it is always scholarly to consider the original languages, why should that be necessary with the "word of God?" An omnipotent, omniscient deity should have made his all-important message unmistakably clear to everyone, everywhere, at all times. No one should have to learn an extinct language to get God's message, especially an ancient language about which there is much scholarly disagreement. If the English translation is flawed or imprecise, then God failed to get his point across to English speakers. A true fundamentalist should consider the English version of the bible to be just as inerrant as the original because if we admit that human error was possible in the translation, then it was equally possible in the original writing. (Some fundamentalists do assert that the King James Version is perfect. One preacher reportedly said, "If the King James Version was good enough for the Apostle Paul, then it's good enough for me.") If a contradiction exists in English, then the bible is contradictory.

The above list of thirty-three contradictions is a very small portion of the thousands of biblical discrepancies that have been catalogued by scholars. See "Leave No Stone Unturned" for seventeen additional contradictions specific to the resurrection of Jesus. One monthly publication, "Biblical Errancy," is devoted entirely to this topic (published by Dennis McKinsey, 3158 Sherwood Park Drive, Springfield OH, 45505.) Even if a defender of the bible were to eliminate all of the above (and no one has come close), we are still only scratching the surface. The bible is a flawed book.

© Copyright 1992 by Dan Barker. All Rights Reserved.

Please do not distribute copies of this chapter in this form.

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DAN BARKER and ANNIE LAURIE GAYLOR are co-presidents of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and co-hosts of Freethought Radio. A former minister and evangelist, Dan became a freethinker in 1983. His books, Just Pretend: A Freethought Book for Children and Losing Faith in Faith: From

Preacher To Atheist (1992) are published by FFRF. Other books include Godless (Ulysses Press, 2008), The Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God (Pitchstone Publishing, 2011), Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning, Pitchstone Press (2015) and GOD: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction (Sterling Publications, 2016). A graduate of Azusa Pacific University with a degree in religion, Dan now puts his knowledge of Christianity to effective freethought use. A professional pianist and composer, Dan performs freethought concerts and is featured in FFRF’s musical CDs, "Friendly Neighborhood Atheist," "Beware of Dogma,” and “Adrift on a Star." He joined FFRF's staff in 1987, serving as public relations director. He was first elected co-president in November 2004, speaks widely and has engaged in more than 100 debates about religion.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, a third-generation freethinker, co-founded FFRF with her mother Anne Gaylor as a college student in 1976. She served as editor of Freethought Today, FFRF’s newspaper, from 1985 to 2009. Her book, Woe to the Women: The Bible Tells Me So, first published by FFRF in 1981, is in its 4th printing. In 1988, FFRF published Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children, the first book documenting widespread sexual abuse by clergy. Her 1997 anthology, Women Without Superstition: 'No Gods, No Masters,’ is the first collection of the writings of historic and contemporary women freethinkers. A 1980 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Journalism School, she was an award-winning student reporter and recipient of the Ken Purdy scholarship. After graduation, she founded, edited and published the Feminist Connection, a monthly advocacy newspaper, from 1980-1985. She first joined the FFRF staff in 1985. She has been co-president since 2004. In the late 1970s, her student protest ended commencement prayers at the UW-Madison. She has been plaintiff in or overseen many state/church lawsuits and actions by FFRF. Dan and Annie Laurie have appeared on a variety of TV news shows, including “Oprah,” “O’Reilly,” “Good Morning America,” Univision, CNN and FOX news segments, CBS Evening News and ABC World News Tonight.

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ANNE NICOL GAYLOR was a founder and president emerita of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. She served as executive director from 1978 to 2005, and worked as a consultant to the Foundation. Born in rural Wisconsin, she was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She owned and managed successful small businesses and was co-owner and editor of an award-winning suburban weekly newspaper. A feminist author, she did substantial volunteer work for women's rights (including serving as volunteer director of the Women's Medical Fund). Under her leadership the Freedom From Religion Foundation has grown from its initial three Wisconsin members to a national group with representation in every state and Canada.

Slideshow of Anne Gaylor & FFRF activism

FFRF Legal

REBECCA S. MARKERT is the Legal Director for FFRF. She attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and received her B.A. in political science, international relations and German in 1998. Rebecca attended Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island, and received her Juris Doctor in 2008. She joined the Foundation staff in October 2008 as the first in-house staff attorney. Prior to joining FFRF, she worked for former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold both in his legislative office in Washington, D.C., and in his 2004 campaign office.

She handles a First Amendment caseload that includes matters involving religion in the public schools, religious symbols on public property, and electioneering by churches. She has served as co-counsel in federal lawsuits across the country and routinely assists FFRF’s cooperating attorneys in litigation. She’s drafted amicus briefs filed in many federal appellate courts including the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rebecca is admitted to practice in Wisconsin, and before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Courts for the Western and Eastern Districts of Wisconsin, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Rebecca is also a member of the Western District of Wisconsin Bar Association, Dane County Bar Association and the James E. Doyle American Inn of Court. She also serves as the President of the Legal Association for Women in Madison, Wisconsin.

Photo by Chris Line. 

PATRICK ELLIOTT, the Foundation's Senior Litigation Counsel, hails from St. Paul, Minn. Patrick received a degree in legal studies and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005. He attended the University of Wisconsin Law School and received his Juris Doctor in 2009. While in school, Patrick took an interest in the First Amendment and constitutional law. He joined FFRF as a staff attorney in July 2010, after working part-time for the Foundation since February. Patrick is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Western and Eastern Districts of Wisconsin.

Photo by Chris Line. 

ANDREW L. SEIDEL is a constitutional attorney, the Director of Strategic Response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and an author. Andrew graduated cum laude from Tulane University ('04) with a B.S. in neuroscience and environmental science and magna cum laude from Tulane University Law School ('09), where he was awarded the Haber J. McCarthy Award for excellence in environmental law. He studied human rights and international law at the University of Amsterdam and traveled the world on Semester at Sea. Andrew completed his Master of Laws at Denver University Sturm College of Law with a perfect GPA ('11) and was awarded the Outstanding L.L.M. Award.

His first book The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American hits shelves in May 2019. Renowned constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky has described it as "a beautifully written book" that "explodes a frequently expressed myth: that the United States was created as a Christian nation." Publisher's Weekly said that Andrew "provides a fervent takedown of Christian Nationalism in his furious debut. ... his well-conceived arguments will spark conversations for those willing to listen." Susan Jacoby (Freethinkers; The Age of American Unreason; and The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought) wrote the foreword and Dan Barker penned a preface. When not fighting for the First Amendment, Andrew writes for ThinkProgress, Religion News Service, Rewire News and elsewhere. Andrew joined FFRF as a constitutional consultant on Halloween, 2011.

Photo by Chris Line. 

 

ELIZABETH CAVELL received her B.A in English from the University of Florida in 2005. After college, Elizabeth spent a year as a full-time volunteer in AmeriCorps*NCCC. She attended Tulane University Law School and received her Juris Doctor in 2009. After law school, she worked as a deputy public defender in southern Colorado. She joined the Foundation as a staff attorney in January 2013, after working for the Foundation part-time since September 2012.

Photo by Chris Line. 

MARK DANN joined Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) on May 20, as our first full-time director of governmental affairs. Dann previously worked as the director of governmental affairs for the Secular Coalition for America (SCA). He has also served as the federal affairs director at Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life advocacy group, and as a democracy development consultant with the National Democratic Institute in Moldova and Iraq. And he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Crimea before it was invaded by Russia.

Mark will help raise the national profile of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Washington, D.C., where he is based.

Mark lives in Washington, DC with his husband Sultan Shakir. They have a Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier who as a finalist in this year’s Running of the Chihuahua's in DC.

SAM GROVER received his B.A. in philosophy and government from Wesleyan University in 2008. He first worked for FFRF in 2010 as a legal intern while attending Boston University School of Law. In 2011, his article on the religious exemptions in the Affordable Care Act’s individual health insurance mandate was published in the American Journal of Law and Medicine. After receiving his J.D. from Boston University in 2012, Sam worked as a law clerk for the Vermont Office of Legislative Council where he drafted legislation on health care, human services, and tax issues. He returned to work as a constitutional consultant for FFRF in the fall of 2013. Sam has written a paper on counterterrorism and the law that was published by the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism in Oklahoma City and has traveled to southern Africa to work under Justice Unity Dow of Botswana’s High Court.

Photo by Chris Line. 

RYAN JAYNE received a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Honors College in 2007. After graduating, Ryan taught piano and chess lessons while working as a financial advisor until 2012, when he began law school at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Oregon. In law school he focused on intellectual property and animal law, serving as an associate editor for the Animal Law Review at Lewis & Clark and co-founding the Pacific Northwest’s first Secular Legal Society. Ryan graduated cum laude in 2015, began working with FFRF in January of 2015, and became a Diane Uhl Legal Fellow in September, 2015, specializing in faith-based government funding. Ryan became an FFRF staff attorney in September, 2017.

Photo by Chris Line. 

MADELINE ZIEGLER graduated magna cum laude from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in 2011 with a B.A. in English Literature and Political Science. She attended the University of Wisconsin Law School and received her Juris Doctor in 2014. She has worked at FFRF in some capacity since May 2012, starting as a legal intern/extern, and currently works as a staff attorney.

Photo by Chris Line. 

WHITNEY STEFFEN is FFRF’s Legal Assistant. Whitney is a Madison native who graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in English in 2011. Whitney received a Paralegal Post-Baccalaureate diploma from Madison College in 2014 and previously worked as a paralegal at a small law firm before coming to FFRF. She enjoys watching the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly from the galleries, reading, and spending time with her four cats.

Photo by Chris Line. 

CHRISTOPHER LINE received his B.S. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2012. He began working for FFRF in 2015 as a legal intern while attending law school at the University of Wisconsin. Shortly after receiving his Juris Doctor in 2017, Chris began working full-time for FFRF as a Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow. He became an FFRF staff attorney in September 2019. He is an accomplished photographer whose work has appeared in The Humanist magazine, the Progressive, and FFRF’s own Freethought Today. His work can even be found on display in Freethought Hall.

Photo by Chris Line. 

DANTE HAROOTUNIAN received his B.A. in Politics and History from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2016. He then attended the University of Minnesota Law School where he focused on immigration and international law. He served as a student director in the Law School's Immigration & Human Rights Clinic and participated in the International Law Moot Court, where he was part of the team that won the 19th D.M. Harish Memorial International Moot, in Mumbai, India. Dante first served as a legal intern for FFRF in 2017 before returning as a Legal Fellow upon graduating from law school in 2019.

Photo by Chris Line. 

BRENDAN JOHNSON is FFRF's 2019 Legal Fellow. He received his Bachelor’s of Music from the Lionel Hampton School of Music at the University of Idaho and his Master’s of Music from Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University. Brendan graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School with a J.D. in 2019, where he focused on constitutional and tech law. He has been a legal fellow at FFRF since August 2019. Outside of work, Brendan is a musician, climber, hiker, and general lover of the outdoors.

Photo by Chris Line. 

GRETA MARTENS graduated from Hamline University with a B.A. in history and a minor in Legal Studies in 2018. After graduating she moved to Madison and worked as an archivist at a pharmaceutical company. She has been a legal assistant since November 2019. Outside of work, she enjoys reading books and comics, hiking, and going to the farmer’s market.

FFRF Editorial Staff

PJ SLINGER is editor of Freethought Today. A Green Bay native, he has a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has worked as a sports reporter, news reporter, copy editor, web editor and photo editor in newspapers in Marshall (Minn.), Mankato (Minn.) and Madison (Wis). Prior to coming to FFRF in 2015, he worked for 15 years at The Capital Times in Madison. He has a wife and three kids.

Photo by Chris Line. 

AMITABH PAL is the Communications Director of FFRF. Prior to joining in February 2016, he was the Managing Editor of The Progressive magazine for more than a decade. He was also the editor of the Progressive Media Project, an affiliate of The Progressive that sends out op-eds through the Tribune Wire Service to hundreds of newspapers in the United States and other countries. Pal has appeared on C-SPAN and BBC and television and radio stations all over the United States and abroad. His articles have been published in school and college textbooks in the United States and Australia. Pal teaches a course at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. He has a Master's in Journalism from the University of North Carolina and a Master's in Political Science from North Carolina State University.

Photo by Chris Line. 

ROGER DALEIDEN is the Graphic Designer at the Freedom From Religion Foundation. He grew up in Wausau, Wis.  He has been living in Madison since 1987. He graduated from University of Wisconsin-Stout with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1986 (Fine Art), and the received his Master of Fine Art degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1991. Roger has taught Art and Design courses for UW-Madison and also for Madison College. He has worked as a Graphic Designer for catalog companies, most recently Full Compass Systems, and as well as for newspapers, including The Capital Times. Some of his other interests include bicycling through our beautiful Southern Wisconsin landscapes, paddling down the lower Wisconsin River, sailing on our lakes and skiing at the local ski areas.

Photo by Chris Line. 

JAKE SWENSON started as FFRF’s first graphic designer in 2015. He was born in Rockford, Illinois, and graduated with a degree in fine art from the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. He enjoys music, cycling, photography, traveling, and coffee.

Photo by Chris Line. 

LAURYN SEERING is the Communications Manager and supports a wide range of communications functions, including: website content curation, distributing materials to members and media, and managing FFRF's social media platforms. Lauryn graduated from the UW-Stout with a B.S. in Professional Communications and Emerging Media, concentrating in Technical Communication & International Studies with a minor in Journalism. She enjoys learning new languages, reading, biking, and creating art at coffee shops.

Photo by Chris Line. 

BILL DUNN is the editor emeritus of Freethought Today. He has a degree in history and mass communications (journalism emphasis) from the University of South Dakota and has worked as a reporter, copy editor and editor in South Dakota and Wisconsin since 1980. Bill joined the Foundation staff in July 2009. He has two daughters, Kaitlin Marie and Jamie Lee.

BAILEY NACHREINER-MACKESEY is the Editorial Assistant at FFRF. Born and bred right here in Madison, she graduated from UW-Madison in 2017 with majors in Journalism and Mass Communication and Political Science and a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies. Outside of FFRF, she can be found volunteering for Madison’s Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS), catching up on her ever-growing stack of feminist reads, or slingin’ top notch espresso drinks as a specialty coffee barista.

Photo by Chris Line. 

FFRF Administrative Staff

LISA STRAND is director of operations of FFRF. Previously, she was the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Library Association. She has 25 years of experience in nonprofit organizations, both as a staff member and volunteer leader, including having served as board president of the Wisconsin Society of Association Executives and the Community Action Coalition of South Central Wisconsin. She has a B.A. from the University of Minnesota. Lisa is married with a daughter, as well as three cats, a guinea pig and an untended garden that will someday be beautiful.

Photo by Chris Line. 

JACKIE DOUGLAS is the office manager at the Foundation. She graduated in 2002 from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Human Development and Family Services. Jackie is happily married, owns a home on the east side of Madison, and has a black cat named Lucky.

Photo by Chris Line. 

ELEANOR MCENTEE has over a decade of experience as a nonprofit bookkeeper and is very dedicated to nonprofit organizations.  In her free time, she journals, spends time with her cats Steven and MacNcheez, and rides her Harley all over Wisconsin and more!

Photo by Chris Line. 

LISA TREU is our Director Of First Impressions at FFRF.  She comes to us after working in broadcasting for iHeart Radio in Madison, Wisconsin.  She hosted various radio programs for fifteen years.  Lisa and her husband ran their own Birdhouse/Birdfeeder manufacturing company called Northwoods Mfg., Inc. during the 1990’s where she had her own line of decorative birdhouses that she designed and painted herself.  Lisa is the wife of Harry and is the mother of twin daughters Katrina and Karinthia.  In her spare time she enjoys reading, painting, gardening, feeding the birds, getting silly with her daughters and lounging with her two cats.

Photo by Chris Line. 

KRISTINA DALEIDEN is a Wisconsin native and life-long freethinker. She received her B.A. in Creative Writing from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and a Post-Baccalaureate certificate in Paralegal Studies from Madison College in 2010. She has worked for law firms focused on employment and labor law, and worked as an office coordinator at a local small business prior to joining FFRF. Kristina is an avid follower of politics and enjoys long protest marches on the square, historical fiction and post-modern poetry. Her hobbies include writing to her representatives, yoga, badgering her family and trying to persuade her cats to get off the kitchen counters.

Photo by Chris Line. 

ASTORIA GOLDSBY is the Store Manager and in charge of processing orders. She is a Madison native who attended Madison Area Technical Collage (MATC). In 2006 she attained a Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts. Astoria joined FFRF in 2019, and has 11+ years in customer service. She loves spending time with her partner and dog, playing board games, and wine tasting. 

Photo by Chris Line. 

FFRF Specialty Staff

BRUCE A. JOHNSON has been a broadcasting professional for over 35 years. He has worked in Russia, Africa, Europe, Mexico and all across the USA.  Projects he has photographed, edited and/or composed music for have been awarded many Wisconsin Broadcasters, Milwaukee Press Club and both regional and national Emmy Awards. He is a 30-year resident of the East Side of Madison, and is married with two daughters.

Photo by Chris Line. 

JAMES PHETTEPLACE is the Director of IT for FFRF. Prior to joining in January 2018, James was the Director of IT for Willy Street Co-op for more than a decade, and served as a Project Manager for major expansion efforts. He was also an information specialist, programmer and consultant for Community Care Systems, Inc. from 1995 to 2003. James is also a Qualified Administrator of the IDI (Intercultural Developmental Inventory), and is dedicated to promoting inclusion, diversity and equity in the workplace. James is a poet and musician and has performed in the Madison area for over 20 years.

Photo by Chris Line. 

Executive Board of Directors

View DAN BARKER's profile above. 

MIKE CERMAK (Director) lives in rural Pennsylvania with his family and owns several small businesses. He first joined FFRF while in college, after having read “Losing Faith in Faith,” and is passionate about state-church separation. Mike is a private pilot, electric car owner and “evangelist,” and enjoys technology of all kinds.

View ANNIE LAURIE GAYLOR's profile above. 

Photo by Chris Line. 

STEPHEN HIRTLE (Chair) is a professor in the School of Computing and Information at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a member of the Pittsburgh Freethought Community, blogger with the Steel City Skeptics, faculty liaison for the Secular Alliance at Pitt and hosted a CFI Institute on “Secularism on Campus.” He has been a guest on Freethought Radio and has assisted FFRF in fighting a nativity display at the Ellwood City Municipal Building, a Ten Commandments monument outside Valley High School in New Kensington, and the Year of the Bible resolution passed by the Pennsylvania House.

TODD PEISSIG (Director) grew up in central Wisconsin and still lives there today. He attended the University of Wisconsin Pharmacy School, graduating with a B.S. in Pharmacy in 1989. He has worked as a retail community pharmacist with the Kmart Corporation for 27 years and is currently the pharmacy manager overseeing 5 technicians. Traveling extensively both domestically and worldwide is a great passion of his, as is fighting the battle of religious overreach in our country. He also is an activist fighting for LGBT rights. Todd volunteers a full day for FFRF every six-eight weeks, as well as at FFRF conventions.

STEVE SALEMSON (Treasurer) took early retirement in 2005 after nearly two decades in scholarly publishing, first as business manager of the Duke University Press and then as associate director of the University of Wisconsin Press. In previous lives, he worked as a classical musician and as a French translator and interpreter. He has an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Duke University and a B.A. in Comparative Linguistics from Queens College in New York, as well as degrees in French horn and music pedagogy from the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris. He enjoys biking, downhill skiing, doing crossword puzzles and being a grandfather. In addition to being on the board of the FFRF, he sits on the boards of the Midwest Folk Dance Association and the National Mustard Museum, and so is involved with both nonprofits and non-prophets.

JIM ZERWICK (Director) attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, joined the Navy in 1968, studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute, and served as a communications tech in the Mediterranean area until late 1971. After discharge, he and a buddy toured Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. He earned a Master’s in Library Science at UW-Madison, worked for several years at the Michigan State University Science Library, and became the engineering librarian at the University of Virginia. There he became hooked on flying ultralight aircraft. Returning to Wisconsin, he spent the following 29 years working as a property manager and assisting his parents as they approached the end of their lives. His mother, Rose Zerwick, who died as a “happy heathen” at 95 in 2013, was a second-generation atheist. Among Jim’s claims to fame is being part of the backup chorus singing Dan Barker’s “The Stay Away Pope Polka” for FFRF. He has been on the Board, initially as treasurer and now as a director at large, for 10 years. He is married to a retired high school teacher who has two grown children and a granddaughter. His three siblings and their spouses “all share a healthy skepticism of religion.”

STEFANIE MORITZ (Secretary) retired from a career in public libraries in 2003.  She holds a B.A. in Fine Arts and a M.A.L.S. in Library Science.  A former resident of Illinois and Arizona, she and her husband now reside in downtown Madison, Wis. where they enjoy the best farmer's market in the country, close proximity to UW-Madison campus activities, and a plethora of restaurants and arts events.  In addition to her volunteer work with FFRF she is the Land Inquiries Specialist for the Wisconsin office of The Nature Conservancy, and serves as an English tutor to recent refugees through a Madison-based organization, Open Doors for Refugees.  Her "conversion" to freethinker after many years as a lapsed Catholic has been liberating and she is proud to be associated with FFRF's battle to maintain separation of church and state.

CHERYL KOLBE (Director) retired from Portland Community College in 2004 as Student Systems Support Manager where she was responsible for implementing the software for Enrollment Services. She is passionate about the mission of FFRF and in 2013 she started a local chapter in Portland, Oregon and continues as chapter President.  She is a volunteer naturalist for Nature Conservancy and takes advantage of frequent opportunities to usher for performances in Portland. In her free time, she is an avid hiker, cross-country skier, and kayaker. Her two daughters and two granddaughters are a constant source of pleasure.

SUE KOCHER is President and a founding member of Triangle Freethought Society in North Carolina. She works at a large software company by day, and she occupies her off-hours with passions which include: vegetable gardening, cooking, working as a professional dog trainer, and of course, activism. Sue believes that the separation of church and state is essential for a true democracy, and that the replacement of supernatural beliefs with reason is essential for the survival of Homo sapiens. And for being worthy of that name.

FFRF Honorary Board

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is delighted to announce the formation of a new FFRF Honorary Board of distinguished achievers who have made known their dissent from religion.

1ffrf honorary-board 2018

The FFRF Honorary Board includes a. Sean B. Carroll, b. Jerry Coyne, c. Richard Dawkins, d. Daniel C. Dennett, e. Ernie Harburg, f. Jennifer Michael Hecht, g. Susan Jacoby, h. Robin Morgan, i. Mike Newdow, j. Katha Pollitt, k. Steven Pinker, l. Ron Reagan, m. Robert Sapolsky, n. Edward Sorel and o. Julia Sweeney.

“We are so pleased that these outstanding thinkers and freethinkers have agreed to publicly lend their endorsement to the Foundation, and its two purposes of promoting freethought and the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause,” said Dan Barker, Foundation co-president.

  • Sean B. Carroll, professor of molecular biology, genetics and medical genetics act the University of Wisconsin, is author of 'Brave Genius', 'Remarkable Creatures', 'The Making of the Fittest' and 'Endless Forms Most Beautiful.'
  • Jerry Coyne, Ph.D., professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago, is author of the popular book 'Why Evolution is True' and the blog of the same name.
  • Richard Dawkins, probably the world’s most famous contemporary atheist and a distinguished evolutionary biologist, is Oxford professor emeritus. In his blockbuster book, The God Delusion, Dawkins writes: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.”
  • Daniel C. Dennett is Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, Tufts, and author of the bestselling book about religion, Breaking the Spell. In a newspaper article about his nonbelief, Dennett once wrote: “I’ve come to realize it’s time to sound the alarm.”
  • Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments For the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction and a research associate in Harvard’s psychology department, is FFRF Freethought Heroine of 2011. Goldstein is a 1996 MacArthur Fellow (the “genius” award). She has taught at Barnard and in the Columbia MFA writing program and the Rutgers philosophy department. She’s been a visiting scholar at Brandeis and at Trinity College in Hartford.
  • Ernie Harburg, a retired research scientist, is president of Yip Harburg Foundation and co-author of Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz? Ernie has dedicated his retirement to furthering the lyrics, music, memory and progressive views of his freethinking father, the lyricist Yip Harburg, author of classic songs such as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and of Rhymes for the Irreverent, recently republished by FFRF.
  • Jennifer Michael Hecht, poet, historian and author of the acclaimed Doubt: A History and The End of the Soul, told the FFRF 2009 convention audience: “If there is no god — and there isn't — then we [humans] made up morality. And I'm very impressed.”
  • Susan Jacoby, bestselling author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, and program director of the Center for Inquiry-New York City, told FFRF convention-goers in 2004: "[President] Kennedy had to speak about his religion because he was suspected of insufficient dedication to the Constitution's separation of church and state. Today's candidates are suspect if they display too much dedication to secular government."
  • Robin Morgan, feminist pioneer, global activist, author of the groundbreaking "Sisterhood is Powerful" and more than 20 books, was formerly Ms. Magazine editor and consulting editor. She is the co-founder of the Feminist Women's Health Network and Women's Media Center and currently hosts "Women's Media Center Live" the radio "talk-show with a brain."
  • Mike Newdow is working pro bono to challenge such violations as the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance. He told the U.S. Supreme Court during oral arguments: “I am an atheist. I don't believe in God. And every school morning my child is asked to stand up, face that flag, put her hand over her heart, and say that her father is wrong.”
  • Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard, is author of The Blank Slate: “I never outgrew my conversion to atheist at 13.”
  • Katha Pollitt, “Subject to Debate” columnist for The Nation, author and poet, has spoken out regularly and energetically as a freethinker, in such columns as “Freedom From Religion, Sí!”
  • Ron Reagan, media commentator, describes himself in a radio ad he taped for FFRF as: “Unabashed atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.”
  • Robert Sapolsky, a neurologist, Stanford professor and bestselling author, once suggested FFRF put up a sign at its conventions: “Welcome, hellbound atheists.”
  • Edward Sorel, satiric cartoonist and irreverent illustrator who is a regular contributor to The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and whose caricatures have been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, has been a Foundation member since the 1980s.
  • Julia Sweeney, comedian and actress, is writer/performer of the play, “Letting Go of God”: “How dare the religious use the term 'born again.' That truly describes freethinkers who've thrown off the shackles of religion so much better!”

In Memoriam 

1honoraryboardmemoriam

  • Christopher Hitchens, the iconoclastic journalist, was author of the bestselling God Is Not Great: “Since it is obviously inconceivable that all religions can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong.”
  • Oliver Sacks, M.D., the compassionate neurologist and bestselling author, described himself as “an old Jewish atheist.”

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