Ed Buckner

On this date in 1946, educational researcher, author and religious skeptic Edward Milton Buckner was born in Fitzgerald, Ga. His father was an Episcopal clergyman. (One of his congregants when the family lived in Texas was astronaut Frank Borman.) Buckner, who said he started “gradually coming to my senses as an atheist” in the 1960s, received a B.A. from Rice University in Houston in 1967 and an M. Ed. and Ph.D. from Georgia State University. He married Diane Bright in 1968 and their son Michael was born in 1970. They are Life Members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Buckner was an assistant professor of urban studies at Georgia State University from 1980 to 1986. He taught research methods, statistics and computer use and was responsible for managing and conducting data analysis  from research projects. He then worked as a researcher for a public school system and later served as executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism (2001-03), as president of American Atheists (2008-10) and as American Atheists interim executive director for several months in 2018.

An example of Buckner’s ability to be a burr under the saddle of government favoritism to religion was noted in November 2007 by USA Today. He and about 20 others protested “a revival-style vigil” outside the state Capitol, where Gov. Sonny Perdue prayed with hundreds of Georgians for rain to ease a severe drought as “Amazing Grace” played: “We ask God to shower our state, our region, our nation with the blessings of water.” Buckner told the newspaper: “I am embarrassed that my governor thinks ordinary Georgians praying is not enough, that we need to have a mixing of church and state to get the attention of the Almighty.”

Two years later, he addressed the Cobb County Commission with a “prayer” of his own: “[T]hese invocations are a violation of the letter and intent of the Constitution of the state of Georgia, of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and of the 14th Amendment, ratified exactly 141 years ago today. Go and sin no more. Thank you.”

Buckner has edited Freethought Press books and with Michael co-edited Quotations That Support the Separation of Church and State (1995). Father and son co-wrote In Freedom We Trust: An Atheist Guide to Religious Liberty, published by Prometheus Books in 2012. Along with writing and editing, Buckner has debated and spoken in the U.S. and U.K. about freethought and secular humanism. What does he think about the Bible? “A dangerous set of books, full of beauty, moral wisdom and history, but mixed with viciousness, cruelty, myth and immorality.” (2010 interview with tabee3i, an online home for Metaphysical Naturalists “rejecting the existence of the supernatural”)

PHOTO: By Diane Buckner 

Freedom From Religion Foundation