American Atheists Names New President September 12, 2008

American Atheists Names New President

After quite a bit of drama, American Atheists has chosen a new president: Dr. Ed Buckner.

It’s a fantastic choice.

I’ve met him once, a few years ago, at the Lake Hypatia advance (not a “retreat” — atheists don’t retreat) sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. He was a nice guy when I met him, and based on what I’m hearing from leaders of other organizations today, my experience is shared by many others.

What should we know about him?

Here’s what Ed pledges to do as president:

I promise —

  1. I will put American Atheists and her members first.
  2. The many other leaders and supporters of the group who make themselves available to help, with advice or work or financial contributions, will be welcomed and encouraged.
  3. Communication will be a top priority, especially with Atheists wise and strong enough to be card-carrying members. The excellent blog that David Silverman edits will be a major part of that — I will read and take seriously what all of you choose to say there. I will at least occasionally contribute to the comments, always openly and under my own name. The American Atheist web-site will, with the help of many, be kept up to date.
  4. American Atheists will remain true to its proud heritage as the vanguard of American atheism and religious liberty; we have always been the most forthright, unabashed, unapologetic, confident people in this nation who have no religion, and that will continue.
  5. American Atheists will openly cooperate with and support other groups, local, national, or international, to the extent that doing so will serve the interests of our philosophy and our members. The only exceptions to this promise will come where there are conflicts with 4, above.
  6. If a local group of American Atheists anywhere in this nation wants me or some other official representative of the organization to visit, to speak or to debate against some bombastic preacher or condescending media personality, we will do everything we can to fulfill that want.
  7. If a newspaper, radio program, TV program, or Internet show anywhere in this nation invites me or some other official representative of the organization to speak or to debate against some religious leader, we will do everything we can to fulfill that invitation.
  8. The Center in Cranford New Jersey, including our fine library, will be protected and enhanced to improve its usefulness to members and to future Atheists.

I’m not Frank Zindler or Ellen Johnson or Jon Murray or Madalyn Murray O’Hair, and I won’t pretend to be — but I hope to demonstrate that the best days of American Atheists are ahead, not historical. I’m grateful, and I think all of us should be profoundly grateful, to our previous leaders, who have stood strongly and proudly for us, helping us protect our rights, our reputations, and our freedom. All of them have demonstrated wonderful creativity, wit and humor, extraordinary intelligence, and profound courage on our behalf.

Here’s a little more about Ed’s background from AA Communications Director David Silverman:

Many of you who are active in the movement will know of Dr. Buckner’s accomplishments, originating in the Atlanta Chapter of the Society of Separationists (then an American Atheists affiliated corporation), helping to grow the Atlanta Freethought Society through its formative years, and then most recently serving as the Executive Director of the Counsel for Secular Humanism.

A hardcore Atheist, Dr. Buckner has written, spoken, debated, and appeared often in the media, both locally and nationally. He has been on MSNBC, Good Morning America, CBS Evening News, Fox News, the Michael Medved Show, CNN, the national CBS Radio News, NPR, and on nearly every local media outlet (radio or television) in the Atlanta and Buffalo areas, most repeatedly. He’s been quoted, sometimes at length, in newspapers all over the nation and, occasionally, elsewhere in the world, been a featured guest on many Internet broadcast shows, and given the keynote address for Atheists Alliance International.

After a grace period, I look forward to seeing what Ed can do with the organization. It’ll be nice to once again see AA playing a major role in giving atheists a voice. And I hope to see donors come around to supporting the group again.

I wish Ed the best of luck in his new position!

For those interested, one major change has been made to the position itself. Previously, the president of American Atheists was essentially president for life. There were no elections.

Now, the president will have a three year term with the possibility of re-election. I’m not sure whether the election is open to the membership or whether the board of directors will elect the president, but in either case, it’s a welcome change.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • That last bit about elections is welcomed. However, I would rather have the elections open to membership, but I’d think that the organization would like to keep it at the board level.

  • Hmmm. I may stay in for another year, then.

  • Richard Wade

    In his list of promises why does Ed capitalize “Atheists” every time, not just when referring to American Atheists, but also the two times he’s talking about atheists in general. He uses the word “atheism” once, but without capitalization. Is the capitalization just a habit while typing, or is there some statement there?

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