Meet a ‘Pesky Progressive’ Member: Elli K. Work

Name: Elli K. Work.

Where I live: Santa Fe, N.M.

Where and when I was born: Glendale, Calif., July 9, 1960.

Family: Kathleen Rocco, partner of 20 years; and stepsons, Adam and Schuyler, 31 and 28, respectively.

Education: B.S. in social science, Portland State University, Oregon. My informal education included reading the works of my heroes. I figured if Molly Ivins could say that and Michael Moore could do that, then so could I.

Sam Harris makes me cheer, Julia Sweeney makes me laugh, and Barbara Ehrenreich makes me want to stay in the ring and keep up the good fight. These wonderful and amazing people continue to inspire me.

Occupation: Writer, activist.

Military service: 20 years, three in the regular Army and 17 in the Army National Guard. I retired as a logistics officer.

How I got where I am today: A strict German mother and a great public school education.

Where I’m headed: All roads lead back to Oregon. We’ve been in New Mexico for the past five years and have enjoyed the Land of Enchantment, especially the fact that [the TV series] “Breaking Bad” was filmed here. But Oregon, with her mosses and snails, her Birkenstocks and organic everything, beckons.

I hope to write my next book there. Or maybe a screenplay. Or maybe a CliffsNotes recipe for beef bourguignon. OMG! FOS (Figure of Speech)! Maybe all three!

Person in history I admire: The Holy (Texan) Trinity: former Gov. Ann Richards (1933-2006); Molly Ivins (1944-2007), author, political commentator and humorist; and Jim Hightower, former agriculture commissioner, author, syndicated columnist and political activist. These unabashed liberals live on in my heart. Jim, by the way, is still very much alive and kicking ass!

Before I die I want: To seeTexas turn into a blue state. Stop laughing. And for Joan Jett to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jesus, people, c’mon!

A quotation I like: “If Jesus was Jewish, how come he has a Mexican name?” (anonymous). I put that one in my book. Cracks me up every time!

A few of my favorite things: My 12-string guitar, marriage equality, FFRF, coming out as an atheist, serving in the military, running for public office, “Die Chipper” (a story in my book — think of the chipper in “Fargo”), and my book, A Piece of Work, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Actually, all of these are stories in my book.

Pet peeve: Women Republicans. That will never make any sense to me. OK, wait. Hmmmm. Nope, never.

My doubts about religion started: When I was about 6, I asked my dad, “Daddy, why were all the apostles men?” In the matter-of-fact way that was my father, he said, “Because Jesus was a man of his times.” I was immediately suspicious, but didn’t identify as an atheist until my late 20s. I just couldn’t buy it anymore.

That’s why, when a woman screams at a camera — hurricane damage in the background — “Praise the Lord, he saved us!” I say, “And screwed your neighbor? Really? Think about it.”

And maybe someday she will. Everyone deserves the chance to evolve.

Why I’m a freethinker: The insanity that rages on in the name of God, by any name, continues to have dire consequences. Among the most egregious, it has stymied a thousand years of scientific advancement, oppressed women and wasted incalculable resources. Like my favorite lapel button reads: “I’m just another soulless atheist in search of world peace and harmony.” We may never get there without God, but we definitely won’t with one. 

Ways I promote freethought: I mark out “God” on paper money. I say “gesundheit” when someone sneezes. I don’t spend my money at any business that displays a fish. I had “Above us only sky” printed on bumper stickers (I saw that on a banner in Freethought Today). I am an out, unabashed atheist, and I write about my nonbelief.

Freedom From Religion Foundation