Annie Laurie Gaylor
With her mother Anne Gaylor, Annie Laurie co-founded the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 1976 as a college student. In 1977, their complaint halted invocations and prayers at University of Wisconsin-Madison graduation ceremonies, ending a 122-year abuse. She earned a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1980.
Annie Laurie was on her first feminist picket line at age 14. Her most recent activism included spearheading, with her mother, the movement to keep the “Forward” statue, a monument dedicated to women, outside the Wisconsin State Capitol where it has been for a century, which included collecting more than 6,000 signatures. She was co-chair for more than a decade of the Feminist Caucus of the American Humanist Association.
Annie Laurie serves on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Medical Fund, the longest continuously-operating abortion rights charity in the nation, founded by her mother, Anne Gaylor, Professor Robert West and the late Peg West. The all-volunteer Fund has helped more than 14,000 indigent Wisconsin-area women exercise their constitutional right to safe abortion care.
Her book documenting bible sexism, Woe to the Women: The Bible Tells Me So, first issued in 1981, has been reissued in a revised and updated form. Annie Laurie edited and published the Feminist Connection a regional monthly, from 1980-1984, and Freethought Today the Foundation’s newspaper, from 1985-2009. She wrote the first book exposing the clergy sexual abuse scandal, Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children (1988), and is editor of the first anthology of women freethinkers, Women Without Superstition: No Gods – No Masters (1997). She is married to Dan Barker, FFRF co-president, and they have one daughter.
In 2010, Gaylor received the Humanitarian Heroine award from the American Humanist Association. Annie Laurie has appeared on national TV talk shows, including Tom Snyder’s former “Tomorrow” Show, Sally Jessy Raphael and Donahue’s “Last Word,” as well as many regional and local TV and radio shows. Gaylor has been an invited speaker at conferences including the 2012 Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne, Australia, and the regional conference of the Minnesota Atheists. She is on the speakers bureau of the Secular Student Alliance.
Dan became a teenage evangelist at age 15. At 16 he was choir librarian for faith-healer Kathryn Kuhlman’s Los Angeles appearances. He received a degree in Religion from Azusa Pacific University and was ordained to the ministry by the Standard Community Church, California, in 1975. (See ordination.) Dan was a Protestant missionary in Mexico for a total of two years.
Dan preached for 19 years. He maintained an ongoing touring musical ministry, including eight years of full-time, cross-country evangelism. An accomplished pianist, record producer, arranger and songwriter, he worked with Christian music companies such as Manna Music and Word Music. For a few years, Dan wrote and produced the annual “Mini Musicale” for Gospel Light Publications’ Vacation Bible School curriculum.
For more than two decades, Dan was accompanist, arranger, and record producer for Manuel Bonilla, the leading Christian singer in the Spanish-speaking world. He accompanied on the piano such Christian personalities as Pat Boone, Jimmy Roberts (of the Lawrence Welk Show), and gospel songwriter Audrey Meier, and was a regular guest on Southern California’s “Praise The Lord” TV show (Spanish). One of Dan’s Christian songs, “There Is One,” was performed by Rev. Robert Schuller’s television choir on the “Hour of Power” broadcast. To this day, he receives royalties from his popular children’s Christian musicals, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” (1977), and “His Fleece Was White As Snow” (1978), both published by Manna Music and performed in many countries.
Following five years of reading, Dan gradually outgrew his religious beliefs. “If I had limited myself to Christian authors, I’d still be a Christian today,” Dan says. “I just lost faith in faith.” He announced his atheism publicly in January, 1984. He tells his story in the books Losing Faith in Faith (1992) and Godless (2008).
Dan was PR Director of the Freedom From Religion Foundation from 1987 to 2004. He was elected co-president of the Foundation with Annie Laurie Gaylor in 2004, with whom he is co-host of Freethought Radio, a national weekly talk show. He is a contributing editor of Freethought Today and is involved with the Foundation’s state/church lawsuits. He regularly travels the country and the world giving lectures, performing concerts, and participating in debates with theists, many at college and university campuses.
Dan has appeared on many national television talk shows, including The Daily Show (twice), the Phil Donahue Show (twice), Sally Jessy Raphael Show (three times), and twice with Oprah Winfrey. He has also appeared on The O’Reilly Factor (with Bill O’Reilly), the Morton Downey, Jr. Show, the Maury Povich Show, “NightTalk with Jane Whitney,” “A Closer Look, with Faith Daniels,” the “Shirley Show” (Toronto), Pat Robertson’s CBN “Straight Talk,” ABC’s “Good Morning America” with host Joan Lunden, “Religion & Ethics News Weekly” hosted by Betty Rollin on PBS, the “Hannity & Colmes” talkshow on the Fox-News TV network, “FOX and Friends,” CNN Español, ESPN2, and Court TV’s “Pros & Cons” show hosted by Nancy Grace. He has more than once been featured in national TV shows in Australia, including “60 Minutes Australia.”