AUTHORS

114 posts
BARBARA ALVAREZ is a contributing writer for the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Previously she had held the role as FFRF’s inaugural Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern, a program set up to memorialize FFRF’s principal founder, who was an early abortion rights activist and author of the book Abortion is a Blessing. Barbara was a major winner in FFRF’s essay competition for graduate students, writing about the bible’s role in the abortion battle. 
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31 posts
Dan Barker is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. A teenage Christian evangelist, he got ordained, pastored in three churches, and did missionary work in Mexico, had a musical ministry and graduated from Azusa Pacific College majoring in religion. Barker preached the gospel for 19 years before he “just lost faith in faith.” Now Dan is an advocate for reason and freethought. He has participated in more than 120 debates, including at Oxford University. Dan has authored seven books including: Godless: How An Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists with a foreword by Richard Dawkins; Losing Faith In Faith: From Preacher To Atheist; Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning with a foreword by Daniel C. Dennett; and God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction with a foreword by Richard Dawkins. He’s also written three freethought books for children including Just Pretend. He’s produced three albums of freethought music released by FFRF.
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1 posts
Elizabeth Cavell Elizabeth Cavell received her B.A in English from the University of Florida in 2005. After college, Elizabeth spent a year as a full-time volunteer in AmeriCorps*NCCC. She attended Tulane University Law School and received her Juris Doctor in 2009. After law school, she worked as a deputy public defender in southern Colorado. She joined the Foundation as a staff attorney in January 2013, after working for the Foundation part-time since September 2012.
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1 posts
Mark Dann MARK DANN joined Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) on May 20, 2019, as our first full-time director of governmental affairs. Dann previously worked as the director of governmental affairs for the Secular Coalition for America (SCA). He has also served as the federal affairs director at Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life advocacy group, and as a democracy development consultant with the National Democratic Institute in Moldova and Iraq. And he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Crimea before it was invaded by Russia. Mark will help raise the national profile of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Washington, D.C., where he is based. Mark lives in Washington, DC with his husband Sultan Shakir. They have a Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier who as a finalist in this year’s Running of the Chihuahua’s in DC.
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9 posts
Patrick Elliot, the Foundation’s Senior Litigation Counsel, hails from St. Paul, Minn. Patrick received a degree in legal studies and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2005). He attended the University of Wisconsin Law School and received his Juris Doctor in 2009. He joined FFRF as a staff attorney in 2010. Patrick oversees litigation for FFRF, including important First Amendment cases involving religion in schools, religious displays, and free speech violations. Patrick is admitted to practice in Wisconsin, Minnesota, the U.S. Supreme Court, and many federal district and circuit courts around the country. Patrick has served as the Chair of the Civil Rights & Liberties Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin (2020). He has helped plan and present educational programs for lawyers on civil rights issues.
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132 posts
Annie Laurie Gaylor is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. She co-founded FFRF in 1976 as a college student with her mother Anne Nicol Gaylor. She served as the editor of FFRF’s newspaper, Freethought Today, from 1985-2009. She became FFRF co-president with Dan Barker in 2004. Annie Laurie has authored three books for FFRF: Woe to Women: The Bible Tells Me So; Woe to Women: The Bible Tells Me So; and Women Without Superstition: “No Gods – No Masters”, the first anthology of women freethinkers.
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19 posts
Sam Grover received his B.A. in philosophy and government from Wesleyan University in 2008. He first worked for FFRF in 2010 as a legal intern while attending Boston University School of Law. In 2011, his article on the religious exemptions in the Affordable Care Act’s individual health insurance mandate was published in the American Journal of Law and Medicine. After receiving his J.D. from Boston University in 2012, Sam worked as a law clerk for the Vermont Office of Legislative Council where he drafted legislation on health care, human services, and tax issues. He returned to work as a constitutional consultant for FFRF in the fall of 2013. Sam has written a paper on counterterrorism and the law that was published by the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism in Oklahoma City and has traveled to southern Africa to work under Justice Unity Dow of Botswana’s High Court.
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120 posts
James A. Haught, syndicated by PeaceVoice, was the longtime editor at the Charleston Gazette and has been the editor emeritus since 2015. He has won two dozen national newswriting awards and is author of 12 books and 150 magazine essays. He also is a senior editor of Free Inquiry magazine and was writer-in-residence for the United Coalition of Reason.
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5 posts
Karen Heineman joined the Foundation as a Legal Fellow in September 2021. Prior to joining FFRF, she worked at a local general litigation firm. She graduated cum laude from Williams College then received a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Minnesota. She has been a practicing veterinarian in Wisconsin since graduation in 1992. Looking to expand her horizons, she decided to continue her education and graduated magna cum laude from Marquette University Law School in 2020.
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16 posts
Ryan Jayne received a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Honors College in 2007. He attended law school at Lewis & Clark in Portland, Ore., where he served as an associate editor for the Animal Law Review at Lewis & Clark and co-founding the Pacific Northwest’s first Secular Legal Society. Ryan graduated cum laude in 2015, began working with FFRF in January of 2015, and became a Diane Uhl Legal Fellow in September 2015, specializing in faith-based government funding. Ryan became an FFRF staff attorney in September 2017 and is a member of FFRF’s Strategic Response Team, spearheading FFRF’s state-based legislative advocacy.
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7 posts
Chris Line received his B.S. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2012. He began working for FFRF in 2015 as a legal intern while attending law school at the University of Wisconsin. Shortly after receiving his Juris Doctor in 2017, Chris began working full-time for FFRF as a Patrick O’Reiley Legal Fellow. He became an FFRF staff attorney in September 2019. He is an accomplished photographer whose work has appeared in The Humanist magazine, The Progressive, and FFRF’s own Freethought Today. His work can even be found on display in Freethought Hall.
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6 posts
Rebecca S. Markert is the Legal Director for FFRF. She attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and received her B.A. in political science, international relations and German in 1998. Rebecca attended Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island, and received her Juris Doctor in 2008. She joined the FFRF staff in October 2008 as the first in-house staff attorney. Prior to joining FFRF, she worked for former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold both in his legislative office in Washington, D.C., and in his 2004 campaign office. She handles a First Amendment caseload that includes matters involving religion in the public schools, religious symbols on public property, and electioneering by churches. She has served as co-counsel in federal lawsuits across the country and routinely assists FFRF’s cooperating attorneys in litigation. She’s drafted amicus briefs filed in many federal appellate courts including the U.S. Supreme Court. Rebecca is admitted to practice in Wisconsin, and before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. District Courts for the Western and Eastern Districts of Wisconsin, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Rebecca is also a member of the Western District of Wisconsin Bar Association, Dane County Bar Association and the James E. Doyle American Inn of Court. She also served as the President of the Legal Association for Women in Madison, Wisconsin. Rebecca is a co-host on a new monthly podcast, We Dissent, which is the only legal affairs show for atheists, agnostics and humanists hosted completely by women lawyers.
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7 posts
AMITABH PAL is the Communications Director of FFRF. Prior to joining in February 2016, he was the Managing Editor of The Progressive magazine for more than a decade. He was also the editor of the Progressive Media Project, an affiliate of The Progressive that sends out op-eds through the Tribune Wire Service to hundreds of newspapers in the United States and other countries. Pal has appeared on C-SPAN and BBC and television and radio stations all over the United States and abroad. His articles have been published in school and college textbooks in the United States and Australia. Pal teaches a course at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin. He has a Master’s in Journalism from the University of North Carolina and a Master’s in Political Science from North Carolina State University.
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163 posts
Andrew L. Seidel is a constitutional attorney and the Director of Strategic Response at the Freedom From Religion Foundation. His first book The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American was burned by a Tennessee preacher. His second book, American Crusade: How the Supreme Court is Weaponizing Religious Freedom, is due out in 2022. He’s won numerous academic awards and holds two law degrees: a J.D. magna cum laude from Tulane University Law School and an L.L.M. from Denver University’s Sturm College of Law. Andrew has a B.S. in neuroscience and environmental studies from Tulane. Before dedicating his life and law degree to keeping state and church separate, Andrew was a Grand Canyon tour guide and an accomplished nature photographer. Andrew has appeared on Fox News to debate Bill O’Reilly, MSNBC, and hundreds of other media outlets speaking on behalf of FFRF.
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6 posts
Madeline Ziegler graduated magna cum laude from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in 2011 with a B.A. in English Literature and Political Science. She attended the University of Wisconsin Law School and received her Juris Doctor in 2014. She has worked at FFRF in some capacity since May 2012, starting as a legal intern/extern, and currently works as a staff attorney.
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FFRF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with over 35k members, and works as a state/church watchdog and voice for freethought (atheism, agnosticism).