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Personal Stories and Deconversion

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Speakers About Deconversion and Personal Stories

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
Jonny Brotherton
  • Located in Lawrenceville, GA
  • Founder and Executive Director of Atheist Analysis
  • Founder of Grillin' With Atheist
  • Produces more video content per week then any other Atheist Organization
  • 45 Volunteers
  • 15 Blog Articles Per Week
  • All of our content is made available free of charge, and ALWAYS will be.
Greta Christina
Thea Deley
  • Located in Paonia, CO
  • Only comedian on SSA's roster with a vajayjay.
  • Called 'a face of new Atheism' by Denver's "Westword."
  • Founding minister of the Church of Personal Responsibility.
  • Promises to restore your virginity or send you home with a condom.
  • Rated "Rad!" by Metro State University student newspaper.
  • Once burst into a church and yelled at the worship band to STFU.
  • Performing at American Atheists' 2014 national conference in Salt Lake City.
  • Twitter: @theadeley
JT Eberhard
  • Located in Columbus, OH
  • Blogger
  • Co-Founder of Skepticon
Lori L. Fazzino
  • Located in Las Vegas, NV
  • Doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
  • Studies Evangelical Apostasy and deconversion  processes
  • Secular Student Alliance UNLV board member (2011-2012)
  • Former Evangelical believer and meat eater
  • Click here for her UNLV faculty page
Chris Highland
  • Located in San Rafael, California
  • Non-theistic freethinker; "Nature Chaplain" 
  • Instructor in "natural spirituality" through Cherry Hill Seminary; adjunct instructor, Dominican University and Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley
  • Nine published books including Life After Faith
  • Presbyterian Minister for 14 years (1987-2001; Master of Divinity degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary; parish associate for 10 years; left ordination for reasons of conscience)
  • Interfaith Chaplain in county jails--10,000 inmates per year-- and with unhoused, homeless poor--in one of the nation's wealthiest counties-- for 20 years (directed county emergency shelter for 2 winters)
  • Taught courses in congregations on World Religions and Sacred Scriptures
  • Philosophy major, Seattle Pacific University--evangelical college
  • Former Evangelical (high school through college attended Baptist, Pentecostal,
    Protestant, Campus Crusade and House Church congregations; youth group leader; wide biblical and ecumenical knowledge)
Chris Johnson
  • Located in New York, NY
  • Author of the photography book, "A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God"
  • Director of upcoming film version of the book.
  • Has raised over $125,000 on Kickstarter for the book/film of "A Better Life"
  • Interviewed atheists from around the world for the two projects including notable figures such as, Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Steven Pinker, Penn & Teller, Julia Sweeney, Alex Honnold, & Derren Brown, among others.
  • Check him out on Youtube here.

Topics Include:

  • The journey of creating "A Better Life" - from concept to published book!
  • Crowdfunding
  • A new way of looking at atheism
  • Atheism and Death
Mary Johnson
  • Located in Nashua, NH
  • Mary was a nun in Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity for 20 years before abandoning her religious faith to rejoice in her freedom
  • Mary enjoys helping bridge the communicaton gap between secular and religous people, since she understands how good people on both sides work
  • An Unquenchable Thirst, her memoir about her 20 years as a nun, was named to Kirkus Revew's list of Best Nonfiction of the Year
  • She’s been interviewed by Rosie O’Donnell and on national radio in the US, Canada and Australia
  • She is Creative Director of Retreats for A Room of Her Own Foundation
  • Her opnion pieces have appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, National Public Radio, the Huffington Post, and Bloomberg.com
  • Mary has been intervewed by The Friendly Atheist and Daylight Athesm, and has an article upcoming in The Humanist magazne.
  • Mary is in the process of becomng a Humanist Celebrant and is eager for the opportunity to help nonreligious people celebrate special moments in meaningful ways.

Mary is happy to speak on these topics:

  • Living an Authentic Life: Big Concept, Practical Steps
  • When Everything Changes Overnight
  • The Joys of Doubt
  • Herding Cats: Building Secular Community
  • Godless Heathen within a Religious Family: Avoiding Domestic Armageddon
  • This I Believe: A Weekend Workshop to Help Clarify Your Thoughts about Life and Living Well
Gordon Maples
  • Located in Columbus, OH
  • Manager of the Secular Student Alliance's Regional Program
  • Formerly SSA's Regional Campus Organizer for the Southeastern US
  • Founder of the Southeastern Collegiate Atheist Alliance
  • President/Officer of Alabama Atheists and Agnostics (2010 - 2012)
  • Has inadvertently appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, The Blaze, and Creation Today.
  • Has spoken at multiple conferences and freethought venues throughout the Southeast and the rest of the country
  • Twitter @SouthernHeathen

Nathan Phelps
  • Located in Alberta, CA.
  • Born and raised in the "God Hates Fags" Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.
  • Left home on the night of his 18th birthday and ostracized from my family since.
  • Was married for 23 years and raised four children.
  • After another 20+ years in mainstream Christianity he reasoned his way to atheism.
  • Executive Director of the Centre for Inquiry Canada in Calgary, Alberta.
  • On the board of directors of Recovering From Religion.
Robert L. Reece
  • From the Mississippi Delta, located in Durham, NC.
  • Founder or co-founder of two successful blogs: Still Furious and Brave, a blog of social commentary, particularly on race, feminism, and the South, and Magnolia Fresh, a southern black men's style blog.
  • Author of numerous peer reviewed articles and book chapters on a variety of topics.
  • Working on a book project that examines the experiences of black women web cam models.
Rebecca Vitsmun

* Located in Puyallup, WA
* Developing Crisis Responders with Foundation Beyond Belief, the first national crisis responder program for the secular community
* Co-host and writer for weekly radio program, Ask an Atheist
* Outed on live national television by Wolf Blitzer after a tornado destroyed her home.
* Board member of Humanists of Washington
* Twitter: @ActuallyAtheist

Many people will remember Rebecca Vitsmun from the CNN interview with Wolf Blitzer where she responded "I'm actually an atheist" and a big laugh to his repeated question of "Do you thank the Lord?" after her home was destroyed in a tornado.
Standing in the rubble of her home being proselytized to by volunteers, Rebecca decided to go on the search to find a humanist crisis responder team to become involved with and soon discovered, none existed. Rebecca has teamed up with the Foundation Beyond Belief as Crisis Responders Development Coordinator and has begun pulling in talent from around the country to work on the creation of the program.
Rebecca is a co-host and writer of the radio program Ask an Atheist out of Tacoma, WA. Ask an Atheist is a weekly show dedicated to atheism, skepticism, Secular Humanism, and issues of separation of church and state. 
In her local community, Rebecca is the Volunteerism Chair for Humanists of Washington.

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