New editor of Freethought Today joins staff by PJ Slinger

Hello, readers.

I’m your new editor of Freethought Today. I am taking over for the inimitable Bill Dunn, who has been the editor since 2009 and has just retired (although he will still be bringing you the Black Collar Crime Blotter).

I’ve long been an atheist, probably before I even knew what that word meant. I was raised Methodist, but it never “took.”

I don’t believe there was a singular event that made me a nonbeliever. I remember going to Sunday school during my grade school years and hearing stories from the bible that seemed unbelievable, especially the Noah’s ark tale. It was astonishing to me that God was so angry with humanity that he would vengefully cover the Earth with so much water that almost every person and animal would drown. I even wondered what happened to all that water once the flood ended. If it covered the whole Earth, where else could it go? Down the drain?

So little by little, I started questioning (to myself) these tales, and then started questioning the concept of God. I even surmised back then that God was a lot like Santa: He sees you when you’re sleeping, he rewards you if you’re good and punishes you if you’re bad. And everybody loves him and he loves everybody. However, once I realized Santa wasn’t real, it was no leap of (non)faith to believe God wasn’t either. By the time I was in high school I was a full-fledged atheist, although I never thought of myself as that. I just didn’t believe.

As for the journalistic chops I bring to FFRF, I have been in the newspaper business almost my entire life since I was 13, save for a few months here and there when I was out sowing my wild oats, such as following the Grateful Dead around the country.

Growing up in Green Bay, Wis. (Go Packers!), my first job was as a paperboy for the Milwaukee Sentinel, where I had to haul my sorry butt out of bed before junior high school and get those papers delivered. In high school, on a whim, I joined the school newspaper staff as a sportswriter, where I learned the basics of writing and editing. From there, I attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and I joined the staff of the Daily Cardinal, the daily student newspaper. After getting my journalism degree and working at several odd jobs between graduation and a “real” job, I found (barely) gainful employment at the Marshall, Minn., Independent as a sportswriter, where I started out at a whopping $6 an hour. It’s there where I met my wife-to-be. I was smitten, and she could hardly resist the allure of the financial windfall that being married to a young journalist would provide.

From there I moved to Mankato, Minn., where I worked at the Free Press, holding various titles, from sportswriter to obits writer to copy editor to city beat writer.

After eight years in Mankato, we moved to Madison, Wis. The “we” now included our three children. The older two are now in college and the youngest is in high school.

I was hired as a copy editor at The Capital Times, Madison’s daily progressive newspaper, but held several titles there, including online editor, photo editor and data editor.

About two years ago I interviewed FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor for a Q&A feature for the Cap Times, and we got to talking after the interview. I had expressed my appreciation for what FRFF does and mentioned something about how it would be nice to work there. When it was announced publicly in mid-2015 that I was taking a buyout opportunity at the newspaper, Annie Laurie contacted me about the Freethought Today editor position that would be vacant by the end of the year. It was a match made in atheist heaven (whatever that is).

So, after 15 years, I said goodbye to the Cap Times and hello to FFRF. I look forward to hearing from many of you and helping to find and publish what matters to us in the world of freethought, and, of course, state/church violations. Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of those. In a perfect world, there would be no need for FFRF, but as we all know, our world is far from perfect. I’m proud to be a member and happy to be your Freethought Today editor.

Freedom From Religion Foundation