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2011 Annual Conference Speakers


We will be announcing new details for the conference weekly via the SSA's facebook page, on twitter, and, of course, on the event web site. Stay tuned for new announcements as they come in! And, of course, if you like what you see, don't forget to register for the conference!

Jessica Ahlquist Amanda Knief
Adrienne 'Dren' Asselmeier
Zack Kopplin
Dan Barker Franklin Kramer
Jamila Bey
Lauren Lane
Ben Blanchard
Suzy Lewis
August Brunsman
Lyz Liddell
Annie Callicotte
Sarah Maddox
Andy Cheadle Conrad Hudson
Greta Christina Gordon Maples
Evan Clark Jennifer McCreight
Ed Clint Hemant Mehta
Cory Derringer Chana Messinger
JT Eberhard PZ Myers
Kelley Freeman
Tony Pinn
Jesse Galef Darrel Ray
Debbie Goddard David Silverman
Katie Hartman Maria Walters

 Jessica Ahlquist

Jessica Ahlquist is a student at Cranston West High School in Rhode Island who suspected she was an atheist from a very young age, but only became sure after a long period of study and thought. As a freshmen at her school she noticed that there was a banner in the auditorium entitled "School Prayer" that she was pretty sure was un-Constitutional. As fate would have it, the school received a complaint about the banner and Jessica, after publicly speaking out against the banner at school board hearings and in media interviews, joined the ACLU in suing the city of Cranston for refusing to remove the banner.

Taking the city to court over a religious issue in a predominantly Catholic town is a recipe for generating harassment, and so it has been for Jessica. However, her fortitude in the face of ceaseless derision to uphold godless students' constitutional right to not be ostracized in public school has made Jessica a darling of the atheist movement. Richard Dawkins has dubbed her a hero! Despite sacrificing a tremendous amount of her time to bring secular issues to light in the media, she has used her new found notoriety to also speak out for LGBT issues in conjunction with Marriage Equality Rhode Island, a group dedicated to establishing same-sex marriage as the law in her state.

She has begun to work with the Secular Student Alliance to form a humanist/atheist student group in her school. Jessica is a frequent and popular guest on Freethought RI, a weekly radio show produced by the RI Atheist Society.

 Adrienne 'Dren' Asselmeier

Adrienne Asselmeier is a Campus Organizer for CFI's campus outreach initiative. She began volunteering with CFI-Michigan in 2008 and was the Campus Coordinator intern for the Michigan center in 2009. In 2009 Dren was presented with the Freethinker of the Year award and asked to speak on a panel at the Student Leadership Conference. She began working at CFI-Transnational in April of 2011. Her background is in non-profit administration and she has her B.A. in English Language and Literature from Grand Valley State University.

Dan Barker

Dan became a teenage evangelist at age 15. At 16 he was choir librarian for faith-healer Kathryn Kuhlman's Los Angeles appearances. He received a degree in Religion from Azusa Pacific University and was ordained to the ministry by the Standard Community Church, California, in 1975. (See ordination.) He served as associate pastor in three California churches: Arcadia Friend's Church (Quaker), Glengrove Assembly of God (Hacienda Heights), and Standard Christian Center, an independent Charismatic church loosely affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ tradition) in Standard, California. Dan was a Protestant missionary in Mexico for a total of two years.

Dan preached for 19 years. He maintained an ongoing touring musical ministry, including eight years of full-time, cross-country evangelism. An accomplished pianist, record producer, arranger and songwriter, he worked with Christian music companies such as Manna Music and Word Music. For a few years, Dan wrote and produced the annual "Mini Musicale" for Gospel Light Publications' Vacation Bible School curriculum.

For more than two decades, Dan was accompanist, arranger, and record producer for Manuel Bonilla, the leading Christian singer in the Spanish-speaking world. He accompanied on the piano such Christian personalities as Pat Boone, Jimmy Roberts (of the Lawrence Welk Show), and gospel songwriter Audrey Meier, and was a regular guest on Southern California's "Praise The Lord" TV show (Spanish). One of Dan's Christian songs, "There Is One," was performed by Rev. Robert Schuller's television choir on the "Hour of Power" broadcast. To this day, he receives royalties from his popular children's Christian musicals, "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (1977), and "His Fleece Was White As Snow" (1978), both published by Manna Music and performed in many countries.

Following five years of reading, Dan gradually outgrew his religious beliefs. "If I had limited myself to Christian authors, I'd still be a Christian today," Dan says. "I just lost faith in faith." He announced his atheism publicly in January, 1984. He tells his story in the books Losing Faith in Faith (1992) and Godless (2008).

Dan was PR Director of the Freedom From Religion Foundation from 1987 to 2004. He was elected co-president of the Foundation with Annie Laurie Gaylor in 2004, with whom he is co-host of Freethought Radio, a national weekly talkshow on the Air America network. He is a contributing editor of Freethought Today and is involved with the Foundation's state/church lawsuits. He regularly travels the country and the world giving lectures, performing concerts, and participating in debates with theists, many at college and university campuses.

 Jamila Bey

Jamila Bey is a journalist living in Washington, DC. Born to a Southern Baptist convert to Catholicism and a non-practicing Black Muslim, Jamila has formally renounced her "confused" belief in the supernatural and is now an out and proud Atheist. Jamila began her career covering government in her hometown of Pittsburgh and moved to DC where worked as an editor and producer for ten years at National Public Radio. She's been a writer for hire for the better part of the last decade and is devoted to spreading the gospel of Logic, Reason, and Science to all those who may hear.

 Ben Blanchard

Ben Blanchard is a third-year Biochemistry/ Biomedical Studies Major at St. Cloud State University, where he serves as co-president of SSA. Ben aspires to make the world a better place by becoming a pediatric oncologist. He is a very active student, and is an executive board member in several other organizations. He also works as a senior consultant at the St Cloud State Technology Helpdesk. In his little free time, he enjoys absorbing random knowledge off the internet, friendly debates with devout theists, doing science, and amassing nerd-cred.

 August E. Brunsman IV

Brunsman is the executive director of the Secular Student Alliance. He has served in that position since 2001, and started getting paid for it in 2004. He also worked as a programmer for the Institute for Humanist Studies from 2001 to 2004. In 1997 he co-founded Students for Freethought at the Ohio State University where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 2001 majoring in psychology and minoring in mathematics and cognitive science.

Brunsman has served as the Secretary of the Board of the Secular Coalition for America since 2006. He is also the camp director of Camp Quest Ohio where he has volunteered since 1999.

 Annie Callicotte

Annie is a junior at the University of Central Missouri majoring in psychology with a minor in religious studies. In January of this year, she started the SSA at UCM and presently serves as the group's president. Annie first attended Skepticon III last fall and has been a self-professed conference junkie ever since. Annie hopes to study psychology of secularism and religion professionally. This movement has become the focus of Annie's life, and she hopes to contribute to it through her research. When not occupying her time with atheist activism, Annie enjoys knitting and snuggling her puppy.

 Andy Cheadle

Andy Cheadle is an Assistant Campus Organizer at the SSA. He is an active member of the SSA and was president of his university's secular student group before being hired onto the SSA staff. Andy was not raised in any specific religion, but was taught to question and inquire about the world around him. After studying and trying many different religions throughout his life, Andy began to proudly and openly identify as an atheist during college. He currently attends Wright State University pursuing a BS in psychology and behavioral neuroscience. He plans on attending law school after graduation, as well as continuing his work with the secular student movement.

Greta Christina

Greta Christina has been writing professionally since 1989, on topics including atheism, sexuality and sex-positivity, LGBT issues, politics, culture, and whatever crosses her mind. She is one of the most widely- read and well- respected bloggers in the atheist blogosphere, and was recently ranked by an independent analyst as one of the Top Ten most popular atheist bloggers. She is a regular atheist correspondent for AlterNet, the online political magazine with over 1,200,000 hits a week, and has been writing about atheism and skepticism for Greta Christina's Blog since 2005. Her atheist and skeptical writing has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, including Skeptical Inquirer, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the anthology Everything You Know About God Is Wrong.

Greta is an experienced and entertaining public speaker, who has been doing public speaking for many years. She is on the speakers' bureaus of the Secular Student Alliance and the Center for Inquiry, and is available to speak on many topics, including atheism and sexuality, what the atheist movement can learn from the gay movement, diversity in the atheist movement, atheist philosophies of death, and why atheists are so angry.

Greta has also been a sex writer for over two decades, and has had non-fiction and fiction writing about sex published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and online publications, including Ms., Penthouse, and three volumes of the "Best American Erotica" series. She is currently editing the annual anthology series, "Best Erotic Comics" (the first two volumes are available, and the third is in production). She is the author of "Bending," an erotic novella that's part of the three-novella collection "Three Kinds of Asking For It," edited by Susie Bright for Simon & Schuster. She's also the editor of "Paying For It: A Guide by Sex Workers for Their Clients," a book of advice for sex work customers, written by sex workers and former sex workers, published by Greenery Press.

Apart from her books, her best-known pieces of writing are probably "Are We Having Sex Now or What?", "Atheists and Anger," and "Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing do Do With God." "Are We Having Sex Now or What?" has been reprinted numerous times, most notably in the Alan Soble anthology "Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary Readings," and is taught in college and university courses around the world.

She lives in San Francisco with her wife, Ingrid.

Evan Clark

Evan Clark was a founder of the Secular Student Alliance at California Lutheran University. This was the first SSA affiliate officially recognized by a parochial university in the country, and he served as their President for three years. During that time, his group grew to be one of the most recognizable clubs on campus, and in 2011 was featured in an article by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

In 2010, Evan successfully was elected by his peers as California Lutheran University's Student Body President, making him the first open atheist ever to hold the position. He simultaneously continued to serve as his club president, also making him the first SSA affiliate president to simultaneously serve as a student body president.

Evan is finishing his B.A. in Communications and Political Science at Cal Lutheran, and intends to have a lasting involvement in the secular movement.

Edward Clint

Edward Clint has been an atheist since age 13, evading the sober, clean-cut savages of his Mormon upbringing. He began speaking out against religion in earnest as a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force, opposing unconstitutional encroachments on military life at risk of arrest and courts-martial.

Now a senior studying biopsychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Edward is President of the Illini Secular Student Alliance (ISSA), the UI's campus atheist student group. He has been a leader in ISSA for the past two years and instrumental in its growth and great successes such as the multi-campus Draw Muhammad Protest (in response to threats against South Park's creators) and a "Good without God" bus ad campaign championing the extraordinary philanthropy of nonbelievers Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

 Cory Derringer

Cory Derringer is a senior psychology and sociology major at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the President of the UNI Freethinkers and Inquirers (UNIFI), and has been an atheist and an activist for three years. Before becoming UNIFI's president, Cory served as Vice President for two years under Trevor Boeckmann, at a time when UNIFI experienced explosive growth. Cory is passionate about making UNIFI's name impossible to overlook both on campus and in the secular movement at large, even attending a weekly Bible study last semester to network and establish rapport with religious students. In his down time, Cory enjoys sampling good beer, and loves to sing both in the shower and with the UNI Varsity Men's Glee Club.

 JT Eberhard

JT Eberhard is a campus organizer and high school specialist with the Secular Student Alliance. He also runs the blog What Would JT Do? and is a contributing author to AtheismResource.com. Eberhard is a speaker on secularism and gay rights who has spoken at the 2010 SSA Annual Conference as well as the American Atheists National Convention and the American Humanists Association's National Conference. Later this year he will take the stage to speak at the Midwest Humanist and Freethought Conference, Dragon*Con and Skepticon IV.

Before joining the SSA, JT was most known as a debater on atheism and LGBT rights and as the co-founder of the Skepticon conference. From 2008-2010, JT worked as the organizing team leader for Skepticon I, II, and III.

Outside of his work as an activist, Eberhard is a veteran of the Springfield Regional Opera's Young Artist Program. A baritone, JT has a handful of professional roles to his credit with various companies including work under the directorship of two-time Grammy-winner James Billings.

 Kelley Freeman

Kelley is a junior at the University of South Carolina majoring in Russian language with a minor in Sociology. She is the president of the SSA affiliate, the Pastafarians at USC, for the 2011-2012 and previously represented the organization as the Events Coordinator in 2010-2011. For the summer of 2011, Kelley is working as the summer intern of the Secular Student Alliance (and it's awesome). In fall of 2010, she helped coordinate and organize the Columbia Leadership Summit with the SSA.

She may continue her studies after graduation, but her true passion is working within the secular movement. Kelley puts a heavy emphasis on doing service work within her group and providing an awesome community for non-religious students. For the 2011-2012 school year, Kelley plans on working with student housing to provide training for RAs regarding non-religious students.

She was an honorable mention (woo!) for the 2011 American Atheists' scholarship.

Other than Pastafarians, Kelley works as a vice president of service with the service sorority Omega Phi Alpha and has previous worked for student housing as a Resident Mentor. She can also crochet like a fiend.

In her free time, she blogs about crochet and cats at http://ramenneedles.com and about serious atheist stuff athttp://pastafariansatusc.org

 Jesse Galef

Jesse Galef is the Communications Director for the Secular Student Alliance. Before being hired in 2010, he worked for the Secular Coalition for America and the American Humanist Association.

Galef graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Political Science. He was president of the nonreligious student group on campus as well as an active member of various religious organizations, including the Orthodox Christian Fellowship and Christian Apologetics of Carolina. In his spare time, he likes to read, breakdance, and play board games.

 Debbie Goddard

Debbie Goddard is the campus outreach coordinator at the Center for Inquiry Transnational in Amherst, NY. She is also the director of African Americans for Humanism, a program of the Council for Secular Humanism. Before working for CFI, she participated in local freethought groups in the greater Philadelphia region and helped organize and support campus groups internationally as a student volunteer. She has also been involved with progressive issues and LGBT activism.

In 2002, she was profiled in a Beliefnet article, "Godless Who's Who", as a student activist. She was also interviewed by the Washington Blade, formerly one of the nation's largest circulation LGBT newspapers, as an "out" nonbeliever. In early 2006, Jamila Bey interviewed Debbie for an article about African-American female atheists for the Skepchick blog.

In June 2006, CFI/Transnational hired Debbie as a field organizer, allowing her to utilize her grassroots organizing experience working with campus and community groups. As CFI's campus outreach coordinator, she helps connect CFI resources to campus affiliates around the world and provides volunteer and leadership training opportunities to the next generation of student activists.

  Katie Hartman

Katie Hartman joined the Missouri State branch of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as a freshman, and has since been heavily involved in the group's fundraising, advertising, and recruitment ventures. In 2008, the group launched its first annual event featuring PZ Myers and Richard Carrier. The event - retroactively dubbed Skepticon - was free to the public and attracted an audience of about fifty.

By 2010, Skepticon had grown to an epic three-day conference with fifteen speakers and two panels. An estimated 1,000 people attended, making it the year's largest skeptic/freethinker conference in the Midwest and one of the largest in the world. Skepticon continues to grow, and the organizers anticipate audiences far surpassing 1,000 in coming years!

Katie also serves on the Board of Directors for Squirrel Refuge, a small non-profit organization dedicated to rehabilitating injured and orphaned squirrels.

 Conrad Hudson

Conrad Hudson joined the SSA as an accounting student at the University of Kansas. There he serves as the President of the KU Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics ( SOMA) and is proud of its tremendous growth in to a group with hundreds of members and beneficiaries. He has continually pushed to expand the activities of the group, creating campus wide events to raising the group's public profile including the first ReasonFest in 2011 a multi-day free-thought festival in Lawrence, KS. He also spearheads endeavors to reach out to campus religious groups for debate, dialog and service.

His own experience with the effect of religious bigotry, as a shunned ex-member of the Christian denomination Jehovah's Witnesses, motivates him to work tirelessly in providing community for secular youth, increasing understanding about the non-religious, developing tolerant and pragmatic relationships, peaceful and supportive communities and combating dogmatism, ignorance, and indoctrination through a wide variety of tactics. Beyond atheism he enjoys spreadsheets, philosophy, and working as a volunteer for youth camps, LGBTQ groups, women's rights, and domestic violence centers and ultimately the search for truth.

  Amanda Knief

Amanda is an activist who wears many hats. The most eye-catching of them is her position as the Government Relations Manager for the Secular Coalition for America. She's a big, bad lobbyist - and a damn good one!

Ms. Knief also has a B.S. in journalism with minors in biology and geology and a law degree--none of which matters to tea party legislators. Amanda worked in the nonpartisan division of Iowa Legislature, the Legislative Services Agency, drafting legislation for Republicans and Democrats in the areas of education, labor, tax, and immigration. Amanda co-founded the Iowa Atheists & Freethinkers and is a disaster recovery volunteer for the American Red Cross. Amanda loves living in D.C., which is much, much warmer than Iowa.

 Zack Kopplin

Zack Kopplin is a recent graduate of Baton Rouge Magnet High School. He will be attending Rice University in the fall of 2011. He is the leader of the effort to repeal the Louisiana Science Education Act, Louisiana's misnamed and misguided creationism law. The repeal is supported by a number of science groups across the country including the American Association for the Advancement of Science and by a number of prominent scientists including more than 40 Nobel Laureates. He has more recently called out presidential candidate Michele Bachmann for her claims about Nobel Laureates supporting creationism. His website is repealcreationism.com.

 Franklin Kramer

Franklin Kramer first became an officer of the Illini Secular Student Alliance all the way back in 2008 as the treasurer (then called "Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers), and became President of the organization the following year before graduating with a Bachelor's degree in advertising. Unfortunately he wasn't quite ready to leave the club yet, and after taking a semester off to travel came back to the University as a graduate student in the school of Library and Information Science. That semester he resumed his duties and led the group in organizing the national "Ask an Atheist Day" event with help from the SSA, and pushed interfaith events such as a bake sale in response to the events in Japan and creating a board game night with Muslim and Christian campus groups (little known fact: People will love "Apples to Apples" regardless of what religion they are.). He will be returning as President this coming fall and hopes to continue the excellent growth the group has seen since he became involved with it three years ago.

  Lauren Lane

Lauren Lane was a founding member of the infamous Missouri State Chapter of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and co-created the Skepticon convention in Springfield, MO during her tenure as an undergraduate. She is currently attending graduate school at the Memphis College of Art. She is ten tons of awesome.

 Suzy Lewis

Store manager for the Richard Dawkins Foundation and official liaison to SSA for sales and promotions.


  Lyz Liddell

Lyz Liddell is the Director of Campus Organizing for the Secular Student Alliance. She serves as a primary contact point for SSA affiliate groups, helps connect those groups with resources, and develops new resources for them.

She holds a BA in music and English summa cum laude from Bradley University, and a Master of Music degree in bassoon performance from the Ohio State University. Since 2006, she has volunteered as the Editor-in-Chief for the SSA's eMpirical, and has been increasingly involved in the freethought movement since then. Her work as editor-in-chief and campus organizer has taken her to major conferences and events held by a variety of national organizations. Lyz is also an accomplished performing musician, specializing in classical bassoon and renaissance woodwinds.

 Sarah Maddox

Sarah Maddox is an Ecology and Field Biology major (emphasis in Wildlife Management) at St. Cloud State University, where she co-founded the SSA at SCSU in 2009. She is currently one of three very busy co-presidents of the group. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys baking, playing with her pet rabbit, reading about science, and watching "The Big Bang Theory". She aspires to make the world a better place for animals as a zookeeper and/or wildlife rehabilitator.

 Gordon Maples

Gordon W. Maples is currently serving as an officer in the student group Alabama Atheists and Agnostics at the University of Alabama, where he contributed heavily to the group's successful restructuring. He is in his own humble opinion a rising voice in the Southern secular movement. Raised by a conservative Christian family in the deep-fried crucible that is Alabama, he is quasi-miraculously a life-long skeptic and atheist. Following coming out as a godless heathen to his family (and witnessing the aftermath of many of his friends doing the same), he became an out and outspoken atheist advocate. After being handed a bible at a high school graduation ceremony, he was divinely inspired to become more active in the greater secular movement.

He spoke on behalf of Alabama Atheists and Agnostics at the 2011 American Atheists Southeastern Regional Atheist Meet to an applause that may or may not have been in his head. He was also part of a short-lived secular student group at Tulane University prior to his work at the University of Alabama.

After recently being Googled by a friend's conservative Christian mother, he was graced with the nickname "King Heathen". He rather enjoys the title, and has never felt more accomplished.

  Jennifer McCreight

Jen McCreight is a lifelong non-theist, but became vocal about her atheism when she started college at Purdue University. Surprised and alienated by the highly religious atmosphere, she co-founded the Society of Non-Theists for like-minded students. During this time she also started to blog at Blag Hag , a popular atheist blog, which became infamous partially thanks to "Boobquake." Jen graduated from Purdue University in 2010 in Genetics and Evolution, and is working towards her PhD in Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. She is now on the Board of Directors of the SSA. Her writing isn't limited to her blog, having written articles for The Daily Beast, The Guardian, and a piece for the American edition of The Atheist's Guide to Christmas.

  Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with degrees in Mathematics and Biology. While there, he also helped establish their first secular student group, Students WithOut Religious Dogma (SWORD). He earned his Masters in Math Education at DePaul University and currently teaches high school math in the suburbs of Chicago.

He has worked with the Center for Inquiry and the Secular Coalition for America, received scholarships from American Atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and now serves as the president on board of directors for Foundation Beyond Belief (a charity organization targeting non-theistic donors) and recently completed a six-year run as a board member of the Secular Student Alliance.

Hemant appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and his book, I Sold My Soul on eBay (WaterBrook Press), was released in 2007.

His blog can be read at FriendlyAtheist.com.

 Chana Messinger

Chana Messinger is a rising third year at the University of Chicago and the president-elect of the UofC SSA. Chana has been an activist her whole life (longer than she's been an atheist, in fact), and is very excited to be a part of such a vibrant and growing social movement. She's also thrilled to be able to share her ideas on how to make the movement even better.

 PZ Myers

An outspoken atheist, PZ Myers is a vocal skeptic of all forms of religion, superstition, spirituality and pseudoscience. He is quoted as having "nothing but contempt for ID," arguing that it is "fundamentally dishonest."

He has gained a massive online following due to his blog Pharyngula, which he describes as "evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal." The blog has received awards and critical acclaim, its topics ranging from criticism of intelligent design to elements of his biological research, politics, superstition, and popular culture.

Myers received widespread media attention when he was asked to leave a screening of the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, in which he appeared (having been interviewed under the pretense of a different film project). His guest for the evening, British evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins, was allowed to remain and watch the film.

In 2008, Myers again attracted the attention of the secular community as well as Catholics and other Christians as a result of his blogging about University of Central Florida student Webster Cook and a controversial communion wafer. In addition to defending Cook, Myers was able to procure a consecrated wafer, which he then stuck a rusty nail through and tossed in the garbage. As a result, he received numerous death threats and calls for his university to discipline or dismiss him.

In August 2009, Myers was the guest of honor at the Secular Student Alliance trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY, where nearly 300 freethinkers met to view the creationist ideas first-hand. He then gave the keynote presentation at the Secular Student Alliance 2009 Conference, where he discussed hands-on ways to counter creationism and other nonscientific silliness.

 Anthony Pinn

Anthony B. Pinn is an American professor and writer whose work focuses on liberation theology, Black religion, and Black humanism. Pinn is the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University. He earned his Ph.D. in the Study of Religion at Harvard University in 1994. His dissertation was entitled "I Wonder as I Wonder: An Examination of the Problem of Evil in African-American Religious Thought." The topic of theological responses to evil and suffering in Black religion has continued to dominate Pinn's later work.

 Darrel Ray

Darrel attended church, taught Sunday school, was a tenor soloist, and even preached on occasion throughout his 20's and into his mid-thirties but nothing about religion seemed to add up. By age 35 he was an agnostic and by 40, atheist. He continued to be curious about the inner workings of religion and how it impacts and infects people. His research and writing led him to Memetics, and provided the seed upon which to research and write about religion as a parasitic meme, culminating in his latest book The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture (IPC Press, 2009). Darrel is also founder of Recovering from Religion, an organization dedicated to helping people heal the emotional damage of religious programming and learn the joy of faith free living.

 David Silverman

David Silverman has been an atheist since he was six years old - his Jewish upbringing just never stuck. 24 years later, Dave became an activist, serving as NJ State Director for American Atheists. He never looked back.

After serving for several years in this capacity, he was tapped to be the Communications Director, and began to instigate some changes, including the creation of the NoGodBlog and the College Scholarship Programs.

Dave has appeared numerous times on such shows as The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes, ABC News Nightline, and Scarborough Country, and on CNN, CNNI, CNBC, Fox, Nickelodeon, and MSNBC News programs. He has debated Christianity many times across the country, and also hosts the Atheist Viewpoint TV show. He is also the man behind the Reason Rally .

Dave earned a BA in Computer science from Brandeis, an MBA from Penn State, and a CAGS from Seton Hall. He lives with his (theistic) wife and teenage daughter.

 Maria Walters

As the daughter of a diplomat, Maria Walters had a somewhat nomadic youth, living in places as diverse as Kenya, Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Pittsburgh. Although her passport is from India, she's spent most of her adult life in the United States. She currently lives in Atlanta and runs the Atlanta Skeptics which holds monthly Skeptics in the Pub events. Maria has also coordinated three Atlanta Skepticamps - informal, community-driven conferences where people share and learn in an open environment.

Maria is a writer for Skepchick.org, a group of women (and one deserving guy) who write about science, skepticism, and pseudoscience. With intelligence, curiosity, and occasional snark, the group tackles diverse topics from astronomy to astrology, psychics to psychology.

She is a skeptical activist, who, among other things, works to set up vaccination clinics and fundraisers to coincide with skeptical events. Booya!

She is a strong believer in making skepticism and skeptical events a part of everyday life. She is a pop culture fanatic and often uses books, movies and comics as her reference material. In 2010, Maria coordinated a TDaP vaccination clinic at Dragon*Con, one of the largest science fiction and fantasy conventions in the country.


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