January Meeting Review

Published by Minnesota Atheists on

Dan Barker had a busy day on January 18. He began the day at the KTNF studio for an interview on Atheists Talk Radio, filled the afternoon with an appearance at the Roseville Library as the speaker at our monthly public meeting, and after dinner with some meeting attendees, presented a reading of excerpts from his new book at the Midway Borders Book Store.

The public meeting was by far our largest ever, with attendance estimated at 140. Barker began by informing us of some recent activities of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the nation’s largest church/state separation watchdog organization. Barker and his wife, Annie Laurie Gaylor, are co-presidents. They ran a quarter-page ad in the Washington Post on Inauguration Day, headlined “Mr. President, Rebuild that Wall!”

The FFRF is now taking on the Wisconsin Technical College System, and 15 of the 16 public-supported technical colleges in Wisconsin, for closing their campuses on Good Friday. In 1996 the FFRF won a solid federal court victory overturning a state law declaring Good Friday a state holiday. All of the schools except Green Bay currently close for this exclusively Christian holiday. They expect to be able to get the schools to comply with the 1996 decision without going to trial.

But Barker’s main order of business was to speak about his new book, Godless. Barker stated that all of his previous books had been published by the FFRF, but this time Ulysses Press sought him out, and asked him do write an update of his autobiographical Losing Faith in Faith. When he got to work on the project, it became much more than an update. Godless contains new material that any atheist will find useful in discussions with Christians.

Barker is especially proud of Richard Dawkins’ introduction to Godless. Dawkins wrote: “The most eloquent witness of internal delusion that I know – a triumphantly smiling refugee from the zany, surreal world of American fundamentalist Protestantism – is Dan Barker.” And later, “Dan knows deeply what it is like to be a wingnut, a faith-head, a fully paid-up nutjob, an all singing, all glossolaling religious fruit bat.”

Barker, who has contested over sixty debates with Christians, is the most visible face of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which has doubled its membership in the last two years. One spike of new members came when Fox News’ king of bombast and vitriol, Bill O’Reilly, began attacking him and the FFRF. They are favorite villains of many media spokesmen on the religious right, at least in part because of Barker’s penchant for deflating their pompous and presumptuous moralizing. Having himself been one of them, he is aware that their deep-seated need for a moral soap box, from which to strike a saintly pose. Drawing on his extensive experience in debating Christians and his intensive study of the Bible, Barker relentlessly drives down the credibility of god-decreed, Bible-based moralizing.

Godless will surely supplant Losing Faith in Faith as an absolute necessity in every atheist’s book collection.

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