Blasphemy” in Kansas (May 2001)

Foundation staff member Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister who is now an atheist, spoke at Kansas State University-Manhattan, about “Losing Faith in Faith” on April 9. The event was the kickoff for “Freethought Week” organized by Individuals for Freethought (IF), a KSU campus student group.

The large auditorium was standing-room-only, packed with believers and unbelievers who were mainly polite and attentive. The only rudeness came from a local Baptist minister who stood up and interrupted the meeting, yelling “Blasphemy!” along with a loud rant about “judgment day.” Otherwise, the talk was well received by students and covered favorably by the campus newspaper. A Political Issues instructor gave extra credit points to students who attended and wrote a paper on the speech.

Dan also performed a freethought concert at the Manhattan Unitarian Fellowship on Sunday, April 8, and did a campus radio interview the following morning, during which the student host played Dan’s freethought blues, “You Can’t Win with Original Sin.”

Individuals for Freethought gave Dan one of their new orange T-shirts, sporting a bright yellow smiley face with the words:

“Smile. There is no hell!”

Thanks to Amy Walker, Leslie Veesart, Keiv Spare and Paul Youk for transportation, and to Marolyn Caldwell, Steve Mull, Amy & Marc Walker for hospitality.

Atheism debated in Arizona
“God is a Baritone!”

Dan Barker participated in a debate at Arizona State University-Tempe, with Bob Siegel of “Mission to the Americas” on April 11. The event was arranged by the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix, spearheaded by hard-working Foundation member Susan Sackett, and co-sponsored by the ASU Freethought Society.

Almost 600 people attended the overflow debate. Many were seated on the floor and stood in the foyer, with about 100 turned away.

The Arizona Republic featured a pre-write in its Sunday edition.

Dan’s father was in the audience, the first time he was able to attend one of Dan’s debates. “I want you to meet Norman Barker,” Dan said, when introducing him, “my only father.”

During the debate, Siegel said he knows a god exists because he has a “personal relationship” and has had “personal encounters” with him, even hearing his voice.

“What does God’s voice sound like?” Dan asked Siegel during the cross-examination. “Is he a tenor or a baritone?”

“He’s a baritone,” Siegel responded with a straight face.

After the event, a young man told audience member Joy Berry, a children’s author: “I hadn’t thought about it very much before, but I guess I’m an atheist!”

Dan extends thanks to Susan Sackett and the ASU Freethought Society, who were able to arrange the successful debate on less than a month’s notice.

Freedom From Religion Foundation