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Volume 1, Issue 11 - April 28th - May 11th, 2004
Dan Barker Speaks Tonight at Schofield
by Wendy Lyman
Junior / Psychology

So you've heard the routine stories of nonbelievers "finding God" and converting to Christianity, but rarely do you hear the opposite: deconversion from Christianity to Atheism. Dan Barker, of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., did just that. Dan was not just any Christian; he was in fact a devout Christian minister and evangelist who preached far and wide in California and Mexico during the 1970s. He wrote, arranged, and produced Christian children's songs for companies like Manna Music, Word Music, and Gospel Light Publications. He played and sang his tunes during musical ministry tours across the country, and was a frequent guest on gospel TV shows, including Southern California's "Praise The Lord" TV show (Spanish). 1

But then something changed. In the early 1980s, Dan started reading books from a wide variety of authors and gradually began thinking more critically about his religion. "I just lost faith in faith," he said, and by 1984 publicly announced his lack of belief in a god.1 Dan Barker calls himself a "friendly neighborhood atheist," to dispel the pervasive myth of nonbelievers being devil worshiping, hateful people with no morals. Many atheists, like Dan, are just as happy and productive as anyone. They simply see no reason or evidence for belief in the supernatural.

Since deconversion, Dan has become one of the most influential activists for freethought (another word for nonbelievers, agnostics, skeptics, etc.), secular humanism, and the separation of church and state. He speaks regularly at freethought conventions, radio interviews, and Unitarian-Universalist gatherings, and has appeared in many formal debates with believers concerning such questions as "Does God Exist?" "Is America Really a Christian Nation?" "Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?" and "Is the Bible an Acceptable Moral Guide?" Dan has appeared on many national television talk shows, including "Oprah Winfrey," "Maury," "Sally Jesse Raphael," and "Good Morning America with host Joan Lunden."

Currently, Dan Barker is a co-founder (alongside Annie Laurie Gaylor and Anne Nicol Gaylor) and PR Director of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. (FFRF), a non-profit organization based out of Madison, Wisconsin, which works to preserve the separation of church and state. The FFRF has won many legal battles concerning this issue, as well as publishes the newspaper "Freethought Today", conducts annual national conventions, sponsors essay competitions, and sells freethought books, music, clothing, and bumper stickers. The FFRF, Inc. invites all to become members. The FFRF sells some of Dan's books including his autobiography, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist, and others: Just Pretend: A Freethought Book for Children, and Maybe Yes, Maybe No: A Guide for Young Skeptics. Dan also wrote the essay "Mere Assertions" in response to C.S. Lewis' famous work, Mere Christianity.

Dan Barker must be very busy, but he still has not given up his music. Instead of composing Christian numbers, he now writes and performs freethought music, beginning in 1985 to present. His songs have titles such as "Nothing Fails Like Prayer," and "No Hurry to Die."

Tonight (April 28), you have the chance to hear Dan Barker speak about his story of deconversion, hear his outlook on religious thought, and listen to his famed freethought music on piano. The College Freethought Society of UW-Eau Claire is sponsoring his speech along with the help of the Progressive Student Association and the Secular Student Alliance. Dan will speak for approximately one hour, play some tunes, and will hold a Question & Answer period. Everyone and anyone is welcome to ask Dan questions about his life, his perspective, or whatever is on one's mind. He will also be selling some of his books and/or music following the event.

Dan Barker will be speaking in the Schofield Auditorium at 7:00 PM tonight. Admission is free to all.

1 Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
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