Carter Warden

On this date in 1963, Carter Warden was born in Melbourne, Florida. A pastor for 25 years for conservative Protestant congregations, he co-founded the Clergy Project in 2011, was one of its first forum moderators and is now openly atheist. Using the pseudonym “Adam Mann,” he was one of the five interviewees in the Tufts University study by Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola published in 2010 as “Preachers Who Are Not Believers” in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.

While still in ministry he was interviewed in 2010 with his identity veiled on “ABC World News Tonight,” where he said, “In that point where I realized I was losing my faith yet I still feared for my own salvation, I asked God to take my life before I lost my faith.” Later on after a lot of books, movies, classes and conversations, his thinking had changed: “Instead of deepening my once precious faith, my intense study left me no choice but to abandon it. I did not lose my faith, as though it was something that regrettably slipped away, rather I chose to discard it because it no longer made sense.”

Not until FFRF’s 2016 national convention would he “come out” publicly. (Speech video is here and a transcript is here.) He told the audience, “My true voice has been suppressed and silenced and, as a result, I have been living a life of secrecy, duplicity and hypocrisy. But that stops today.” Eight years of Adam Mann were enough. 

Warden’s early religious upbringing in east Tennessee was United Methodist. As a young adult he transitioned to the Christian Church/Church of Christ. After earning an associate’s degree, he worked as an automotive technician for several years. He then graduated from Milligan College in Tennessee with a major in bible and a minor in sociology. He was ordained in 1988 and graduated from the Emmanuel School of Religion (now Emmanuel Christian Seminary) in 1998.

As of this writing in 2022, he works as a university administrator in student affairs and is a member of the Secular Student Alliance’s speakers bureau. His story is featured in an off-Broadway play by playwright Marin Gazzaniga titled “The Unbelieving.” It’s based on interviews conducted for the book “Caught in the Pulpit by Dennett and LaScola.

Warden has recorded several secular songs, including “Freedom From Religion” (listen or download here), with all proceeds going to the Clergy Project. An avid scuba diver, he has two children and two grandsons.

Freedom From Religion Foundation