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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 Lawrence, KS
  • 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 Pullyallup, WA
  • Development Coordinator of Humanist Disaster Recovery Teams for Foundation Beyond Belief, the first national disaster recovery program for the secular community
  • Co-host and writer for broadcast 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
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