Longtime FFRF member and veteran actor Madison Arnold reflects on his near-lifelong atheism and his 50-year acting career on this week’s episode of “Freethought Matters,” FFRF’s weekly TV show.
Arnold, who’s been a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation since 1980 and became a Lifetime Member in 1995, is a character actor who’s appeared in movies, TV and plays. He acted on Broadway in “Julius Caesar” with Al Pacino and Martin Sheen. He's guest-starred in countless TV episodes and miniseries such as “Hill Street Blues,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “Police Story,” “Baretta,” “Kojak,” “Bionic Woman,” “Barney Miller,” “T.J. Hooker,” “Rockford Files,” “Law and Order,” “CSI Miami,” “30 Rock,” “The Good Wife,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Mary Hartman Mary Hartman,” and, more recently, in the NBC series “The Village.” Movie credits include “Escape from Alcatraz,” “Stir Crazy,” “Stiffs,” “Jackknife” with Robert De Niro, “Presumed Innocent” with Harrison Ford, “Claire Dolan,” where he played a priest, “Donnie Brasco” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”
Madison explains his wake-up moment as a nonbeliever came when he was sent to Germany in the Second Armored Division and was confronted with dog tag preferences that provided no option for “atheist.”
“I refused to be bar mitzvah’ed, for example, following my brother, who also refused,” Madison tells co-hosts Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor. “So religion has never been anything at all that I spent three seconds talking about. I was always an atheist.”
If you don’t live in the quarter-plus viewership of the nation where the show broadcasts on Sunday (see below), you can already catch the interview on FFRF’s YouTube channel. New shows go up every Thursday.
“Freethought Matters” airs in:
- Chicago, WPWR-CW (Ch. 50), Sundays at 9 a.m.
- Denver, KWGN-CW (Ch. 2), Sundays at 7 a.m.
- Houston, KIAH-CW (Ch. 39), Sundays at 11 a.m.
- Los Angeles, KCOP-MY (Ch. 13), Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
- Madison, Wis., WISC-TV (Ch. 3), Sundays at 11 p.m.
- Minneapolis, WFTC-29, Sundays at 7:30 a.m.
- New York City, WPIX-IND (Ch. 11), Sundays at 10 a.m.
- Phoenix, KASW-CW (Ch. 61, or 6 or 1006 for HD), Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
- Portland, Ore., KRCW-CW (Ch. 32), Sundays at 9 a.m. Comcast channel 703 for high def, or Channel 3.
- Sacramento, KQCA-MY (Ch. 58), Sundays at 8:30 a.m.
- San Francisco, KICU-IND (Ch. 36), Sundays at 10 a.m.
- Seattle, KONG-IND (Ch. 16 or Ch. 106 on Comcast). Sundays at 8 a.m.
- Washington, D.C., WDCW-CW (Ch. 50 or Ch. 23 or Ch. 3), Sundays at 8 a.m.
Upcoming guests include interviews with Robert Jones, CEO of PRRI, and Peter Eisly, a lifelong, nationally known activist against priest abuse. You can catch interviews from past seasons here, including the fall 2022 season with author John Irving, actor John “Q” de Lancie and Washington Post columnist Kate Cohen. Previous interviews include Julia Sweeney and Reps. Jared Huffman, Jamie Raskin, Hank Johnson and Eleanor Holmes Norton, among many other notable authors, activists and freethinkers.
Please tune in to “Freethought Matters” . . . because freethought matters.
P.S. Please tune in or record according to the times given above regardless of what is listed in your TV guide (it may be listed simply as “paid programming” or even be misidentified). To set up an automatic weekly recording, try taping manually by time or channel. And spread the word to freethinking friends, family or colleagues about a TV show, finally, that is dedicated to providing programming for freethinkers — your antidote to religion on Sunday morning!