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Secular Student Alliance 2013 Freethought Backbone Award Winner: Bobbie Kirkhart


Bobbie KrikhartNo social movement we know of has made any real difference if it consisted of only one generation. The Secular Student Alliance works hard to connect activists of all generations with each other. 

Every year we take the time to recognize someone who has not only gone before us but has lived the kind of life we’d like to live ourselves.  In the form of the annual Freethought Backbone Award, the Secular Student Alliance recognizes an activist who has contributed to the movement in such a profound way that determination, courage, and intelligence merely begin to describe what they needed to reach their goals.  We use this award to recognize someone who has racked up some serious time working to advance the secular cause.  Past winners include Ellery Schempp, Michael Newdow, Larry Jones, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Dan Barker, and Herb Silverman.

Our hearts are filled with joy as we announce that long-time atheist activist Bobbie Kirkhart will be the winner of the 2013 Freethought Backbone Award.  The award will be presented at the Columbus location of our Annual Conference on July 12-14th, 2013 at the Ohio State University.

A Christian at the time, Bobbie started her professional life in Los Angeles as a social worker serving mostly black and Latina single mothers.  There she saw that any god that existed certainly treated his most loyal followers very poorly.  Although she explored many alternative viewpoints along the way, she soon became an atheist.  Some years later, in 1983, she joined Atheists United, her local atheist community. Since then she has not only been a leader, but also the kind of person who just buckled down and did whatever work needed to be done to advance atheism.

Bobbie has long been a public face for atheism.  Her television appearances include OhDrama!, Faith under Fire, Midday Sunday, STUN, and in Food for Thought.  She has published articles in The Rational Alternative, Secular Nation, Free Inquiry, American Atheist, La Raison magazine and HUMAN magazine, as well as the Humanist Network News.  She is also a contributing author in three books: Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids without Religion, The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America, and Everything You Know about God Is Wrong (the Book).

Although Bobbie has a long track record of publicly championing her atheist identity, Bobbie impressed us most with how willing she has been to do the time-consuming and often tedious work of actually running and growing organizations.

In 2002, Bobbie helped found the Secular Coalition for America.  She served as Vice President of Membership in the Secular Coalition for America for many years and has been one of its earliest and most dedicated supporters.  She has also served as president of Atheist Alliance International.

Today, Bobbie is the Vice President of the Atheist Alliance of America and serves on the Boards of Directors of Camp Quest and Atheist United.  She is also on the Advisory Board of the Humanist Association of Nepal.

We gratefully count Bobbie as a voting member of the Secular Student Alliance.  She has been a mentor to many leaders within our movement for many years, continuing through the present day.  In all of her leadership roles she has always advocated for strong student involvement.   Her home is a well known place of comfort to many leaders in the secular movement.  She has always warmly welcomed secular leaders passing through Los Angeles to use her home, the Heretic House, as a base of operations.

We often speak of students being not only the leaders of tomorrow, but also the leaders of today. Here is to Bobbie's decades of service, and to her continuing contributions in the many years to come.

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