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Civil Rights Issues and Church/State Seperation

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Speakers About Civil Rights

Dan Arel
  • Lives in San Diego, CA
  • Writes Op-Ed's for AlterNet, Salon and The Huffington Post
  • Author of an upcoming book on raising children in a Christian America
  • Has a column in American Atheist Magazine called Danthropology
  • Is the newsletter editor for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
  • Is the author of Parenting Without God: How to Raise Moral, Ethical and Intelligent Children Free From Religious Dogma
  • Also now the Ethics Expert for the Global Secular Council
  • Twitter: @danarel

Murali Balaji
  • located in Washington, DC
  • Hindu American Foundation's Director of Education and Curriculum Reform
  • former award-winning journalist
  • social activist
  • academic whose research focuses on political economy and media representations of minorities
  • teacher trainer and curriculum specialist for Hindu American Foundation, overseeing education reform efforts
Jeremiah Bannister
  • I live with my wife and four children in Dorr, Michigan, midway between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.
  • I graduated with a degree in journalism and mass communication from Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan. I also minored in political science.
  • I'm the creator and host of PaleoRadio, a talk radio program focused on politics, religion and culture.
  • As a protestant, I was a pastor and advocate for presuppositionalism, theonomy, and postmillennialism--put together, Christian Reconstructionism.
  • As a Roman Catholic, I was a Knight of Columbus, a catechist, and a guest speaker on matters of politics and religion. My final year as a Roman Catholic--and as a Christian--was spent as a sedevacantist.
  • Twitter: @Paleocrat
Dan Barker
  • Located in Madison, WI
  • Former evangelical minister
  • Co-president of Freedom From Religion Foundation
  • Author of Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist
  • Author of Godless: How An Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists (with a foreword by Richard Dawkins)
  • Author of The Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God
  • Dynamic Speaker and Debater (and singer!)
  • Frequent media appearances including the Phil Donahue show, Maury Povich, Hannity & Colmes, and Oprah Winfrey
  • Co-host of Freethought Radio
Magdalene Bedi
  • I was a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit when I was 16
  • I speak about my experiences as a plaintiff and as a student entrenched in toxic religiosity
  • I'm currently 19 and enrolled in an undergraduate program at American University in Washington, DC
Carlos Bertha
  • Located in Colorado Springs, CO
  • Teaches Ethics, Logic, and Philosophy of Science at the US Air Force Academy
  • Faculty Advisor for the USAFA Cadet Freethinkers Club
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Military Association of Atheists and Freetinkers (MAAF)
  • Have spoken at various atheist conferences, to include AAIC, AHA, and The Amaz!ing Meeting

Rob Boston
  • Located in Washington, D.C.
  • Assistant director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State
  • Assistant editor of AU's monthly magazine Church & State
  • Leading writer and researcher on church-state topics
  • Serves as spokesman for AU and has appeared on NBC's Nightly News, CNN's Headline News, Fox News, and other programs.
Cecil Bothwell
  • Located in Asheville, NC
  • One of a small handful of openly non-theist politicians in the U.S., dubbed the most Courageous Elected Official of 2010 by the American Atheists.
  • Author of Whale Falls: An exploration of belief and its consequences, and The Prince of War: Billy Graham's Crusade for a Wholly Christian Empire.
  • Winner of national and regional awards for investigative reporting, criticism, humorous commentary and slam poetry.
  • Author of Geoffrey Wasn't Rash (chapbook and tape) and Can We Have Archaic and Idiot? A collection of fictitious tropes.
Ed Brayton
  • Located near Grand Rapids, MI.
  • Part of the Patheos blog network and is the voice behind the popular blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars
  • President and co-founder of Michigan Citizens for Science.
  • Recipient of the Friend of Darwin award from the National Center for Science Education.
  • Former stand-up comedian.
Greta Christina
Jerry DeWitt
  • Located in Rural Louisiana
  • Jerry is a Public Speaker, Author and Celebrant with the Humanist Society
  • Is a board member for The Clergy Project
  • Is a board member for Foundation Beyond Belief
  • He is the author of Hope After Faith
  • His website can be found at jerrydewitt.net or HopeAfterFaith.com
  • Twitter: @jerry_dewitt
JT Eberhard
  • Located in Lawrence, KS
  • Blogger
  • Co-Founder of Skepticon
Patrick Elliott
  • Located in Madison, WI (frequently travels to Minnesota)
  • Attorney for the Freedom From Religion Foundation
  • Spokesperson on state/church issues with the media, including the Los Angeles Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Fox News, MSNBC and other national news sources covering state/church issues.
  • Speaking engagements have included freethinker groups, conventions, legislative testimony, and training for school administrators.
Matthew Facciani
  • Sociology PhD student
  • Broadly studies the sociology of religion and gender
  • Writes for Patheos about religion, atheism, science, and social justice
Zack Ford
  • Located in Washington, DC
  • LGBT Editor, ThinkProgress.org
  • Founder, ZackFordBlogs.com
  • Founder, Queer and Queerer Podcast
  • Twitter: @ZackFord
Karen Garst
  • Atheist, Author, Feminist
  • PhD University of Wisconsin
  • Former executive director - Oregon State Bar
  • Former executive director - Oregon Community College Association
  • Former field representative - Oregon Federation of Teachers
  • Book of essays of women who have left religion to be published by Pitchstone Publishing in Fall 2106.
  • Blog at www.faithlessfeminist.com
  • YouTube Channel and Facebook Page under Faithless Feminist
Annie Laurie Gaylor
  • Located in Madison, WI
  • Co-founder and Co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation
  • Editor of Freethought Today (1985-2009; now executive editor not acting editor)
  • Author of "Woe to the Women: the Bible tells Me So", "Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children", & "Women Without Superstition: No Gods - No Masters"
  • Twitter: @algaylor
Lucien Greaves
Jason Heap
  • Located in Washington, DC
  • Travelled to nearly 40 countries through work, leisure and service projects.
  • Family and friends come from over 10 religious traditions.
  • Qualified as a Teacher of Religious Education in the UK's State-maintained schools.
  • Was first appointed as a Headteacher (the UK equivalent of a 'Teaching Principal' in the US) at the age of 32.
  • First applicant to be a Humanist chaplain to the US Navy (application ongoing).
Jim G. Helton
  • President & Founder of Tri-State Freethinkers
  • Regional Director American Atheist - Kentucky
  • Adopted the Highway in front of Creation Museum
  • Stopped Gideon's bible distributions
  • Challenged Abstinence Only Sex Education in Kentucky
Sikivu Hutchinson
  • Located in Los Angeles, CA
  • Sikivu Hutchinson is the author of Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values WarsGodless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels, and the forthcoming White Nights, Black Paradise, a novel on Peoples Temple and the Jonestown Massacre.
  • She is the founder of Black Skeptics Los Angeles, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and a Senior Fellow for the Institute for Humanist Studies. The Black Skeptics Group sponsors annual First in the Family Humanist scholarship awards.
  • She is also the project director of the Women's Leadership Project feminist humanist mentoring program.
Bobbie Kirkhart
  • Located in Los Angeles, CA
  • Contributing author to The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America
  • Contributing author to Everything You Know About God Is Wrong : The Disinformation Guide to Religion
  • Contributing author to Parenting Beyond Belief
  • Past president, Atheist Alliance International
  • Vice President Atheist Alliance of America
  • Board Member, Camp Quest Incorporated
  • Is very proud of receiving the 2013 Freethought Backbone of the Year Award
Gregory Lipper
  • Senior Litigation Counsel, Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
  • Litigates high-profile First Amendment cases at trial and on appeal.
  • Represents military veteran in constitutional challenge to promotion of Christianity at local veterans' memorial in\u2028King, North Carolina.
  • Represented Respondents in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court's recent case examining the constitutionality of prayers before local government meetings
  • Authored Supreme Court brief defending access to contraception in Hobby Lobby case
  • Experienced oral advocate.
Barry W. Lynn
  • Has served for the past 20 years as executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State
  • Ordained minister in liberal United Church of Christ
  • Member of the Supreme Court bar
  • Only person to have won both the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award and Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt "Freedom To Worship" Medal of Honor
  • Have appeared on virtually every good, bad and ugly television program and was referred to as a "paranoid crazy" by Bill O'Reilly
  • Author of new book to be released in Spring 2015: God and Goverment--An Insider's View of 25 Years of Church-State Separation.
  • Currently have two well know Christian ministers praying for my death.
  • Have co-hosted radio shows opposite both Pat Buchanan and Oliver North.
  • See him with Anderson Cooper here.
  • Find out more info here and here.
Rebecca S. Markert
  • Located in Madison, Wisconsin
  • Senior Staff Attorney for Freedom From Religion Foundation
  • Received a B.A. in political science, German, and international relations from the University of Wisconsin
  • Received her J.D. from Roger Williams University
Steven Martin
  • Located in Ripon, WI
  • Professor of Communication at Ripon College, in Ripon, WI
  • Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Public Address from Penn State University
  • Teaches courses on the rhetoric of social movements, U.S public address, political campaign communication, public speaking, argumentation theory, and metaphor and social problems
  • Advises the Secular Student Alliance at Ripon College
Hemant Mehta

Hemant's speaking topics include:

  • The challenges of being a young atheist
  • Why skeptics can be so gullible
  • What atheists can learn from churches
Ashley F. Miller
  • Currently located in Columbia, SC
  • Currently getting PhD in Mass Communications, focusing on Women's Studies and Reality TV
  • Worked in reality television as an editor -- shows included Toddlers & Tiaras, Flipping Out, Ace of Cakes
  • Plays the Ukulele
  • Member of the SSA Board of Directors
  • Communications Officer at Provide -- An organization dedicated to abortion access, especially in the South
  • Twitter: @ashleyfmiller

Ashley would love to speak on the following topics:

  • Atheism and diversity
  • Introduction to feminism
  • Media literacy and how to work with the media
  • Religion versus women, minorities, and LGBT
  • Using Social Media effectively
  • Film, Television, Young Adult Literature
  • Blogging, Podcasting, Vlogging
  • History of Christianity
  • Coping with burn out
Chuck Miller
  • American Atheists Regional Director of the Year 2014
  • Frequent rally speaker at secular, women's rights, and LGBTQ events
  • Experienced grassroots community organizer
Monica Miller

Senior Counsel, American Humanist Association

  • I have litigated Establishment Clause cases (over 17 since 2012) in federal courts across the country including in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida (two cases), Georgia, Maryland (two cases), Mississippi, Missouri (two cases), North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas. In May 2016, I argued before the Fourth Circuit in a case involving school prayer.
  • In addition to direct litigation, I have authored numerous amicus briefs filed in the Supreme Court, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Colorado Supreme Court.
  • I regularly write cease-and- desist letters to governmental entities regarding Establishment Clause violations. We have sent over 200 such letters since 2013.
Miri Mogilevsky
  • Lives in NYC
  • Studied psychology at Northwestern University
  • Now studying social work at Columbia University
  • Blogs about social justice, psychology, and basically everything at freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason
  • Tweets @sondosia
  • Enjoys Russian literature and Cheezits

Topics Include:

  • Psychology & mental health (especially as they relate to skepticism)
  • social justice
  • sexual health
  • LGBT/women's issues
  • writing/blogging/activism
  • social media
David Niose
  • Located in Lunenburg, Massachusetts
  • Author of Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans, and Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason (December 2014)
  • Former president of the Secular Coalition for America and American Humanist Association
  • Legal Director for the American Humanist Association
  • Attorney who has litigated on behalf of Secular Americans
  • Humanist blog at Psychology Today, called "Our Humanity, Naturally."
  • Twitter: @ahadave
Robert Parker
  • Located in Portland, Oregon
  • Has partnered with CFI, Sunday Assembly, and AHA
  • Law student and former journalist

Can speak on:

  • Legal Systems
  • Secular Law
  • The Rise of the Nones
Anthony B. Pinn
  • Located in Houston, TX
  • Harvard University PhD (1994)
  • First African American to hold an Endowed Chair at Rice University
  • Author/editor of 28 books - including several on humanism
  • Director of research for the Institute for Humanist Studies
  • Named the Harvard University Humanist Chaplaincy "Humanist of the Year" in 2006
  • Received the African American Humanist Award from the Council for Secular Humanism in 1999
Andre Salais
  • Located in Tempe, AZ
  • Owner of Unbelievers Media LLC
  • Host of Unbelievers Radio (http://unbelieversradio.com)
  • Blogger at The Skeptic Examiner (http://skepticexaminer.com)
  • Former President of Arizona State University and Mesa Community College SSA groups
Amanda Scott
  • Located in Mobile, Alamaba
  • Alabama native
  • Nationally recognized student activist
  • Paralegal with extensive knowledge of church/state issues
  • Experienced in working with state and local media
  • Twitter: @amandalscott2
Justin Scott
  • Located in Waterloo, Iowa
  • Generated national and international headlines by interviewing all presidential candidates on how they would uphold and/or strengthen the Separation of Church and State and how their faith would influence their presidency.
  • Exchanges with presidential candidates have gone viral; Marco Rubio exchange alone seen over 10 million times.
  • Efforts to interview all presidential hopefuls featured on American Atheists, Atheist Voter, in Time magazine, Associated Press, FoxNews, ABC News, Huffington Post, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Christian Post, the Gospel Herald, the United Coalition of Reason, the Des Moines Register, the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the Minnesota Atheists podcast "Atheists Talk," "Freethought Radio" by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Interfaith Alliance's weekly radio show and podcast "State of Belief", the "I Doubt It with Dollemore" podcast and many more!
  • Founder of the Delaware County Coalition of Reason in Manchester, IA; Administrator with the Cedar Valley Atheists.
  • Does well both alone and in panels.
  • Follow Justin at @iowaatheist247
Andrew L. Seidel
  • Lives in Madison, WI and loves to travel
  • Degrees include:
    • Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and environmental science, cum laude
    • Juris Doctor, magna cum laude
    • Masters of Law, summa cum laude
  • Speaking events:
    • Andrew has given more than 30 talks at universities and law schools across the country.
    • He has given talks and workshops at the last three SSA conferences in Columbus and has debated Bill O'Reilly.
    • He frequently writes for FFRF's blog: http://ffrf.org/new/blog
  • Awards include:
    • FFRF Graduate Student Essay Contest, Second Place 2010
    • Haber J. McCarthy Excellence in Environmental Law Award
    • Outstanding Masters of Law Student, Denver University Law School
  • Forthcoming book on international human rights
  • Attorney, Photographer, Writer, and Former Grand Canyon Tour Guide.
Herb Silverman
  • Located in Charleston, SC
  • Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the College of Charleston
  • Founded and was faculty advisor to the Atheist-Humanist Alliance
  • President of the Secular Coalition for America
  • Former candidate for Governor of South Carolina
  • Founded Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry in South Carolina
Katherine Stewart
  • Located in NY City
Hugh Taft-Morales
  • Lives in Takoma Park, Maryland
  • Ethical Culture Leader in Philadelphia and Baltimore
  • Broad knowledge of history, philosophy, and humanism
  • Delivering dynamic talks for 30 years
  • Young in spirit
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