Eventbrite - Gateway to Reason 2017

Loftus earned a bachelor's degree (B.R.E.), from Great Lakes Christian College in 1977 an M.A. and M.DiV., from Lincoln Christian University in 1982 and a Masters of Theology degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School He participated in a doctoral program at Marquette University but did not receive a degree.

Lofton is an ordained minister in the Church of Christ and taught apologetics for Great Lakes Christian College and Lincoln Christian University as well as philosophy and ethics at College of Lake County, Kellogg Community College and Trine University.[citation needed] In the late 1990s Lofton had a crisis of faith and rejected Christianity.

He has authored the books, The End of Christianity (2011), Why I Became an Atheist (2012), The Outsider Test of Faith (2013), Christianity Is Not Great (2014) and Christianity in the Light of Science (2016).  He is co-author of the books, The Christian Delusion (2010) and The Witness Tree (2011). In 2012 he collaborated with Christian author Randal Rauser on a book entitled God or Godless: One Atheist. One Christian. Twenty Controversial Questions. Lofton's work was critiqued in a paper by Thomas Talbott of Willamette University.

Phil Ferguson has been an investment advisor representative since 1996 and is the president of Polaris Financial Planning LLC.

Phil is also a long time activist in the secular movement. He has been on the board of The Secular Student Alliance and Atheist Alliance International. He now serves as the treasurer for the Reason Rally 2016.  He is an active member of many of the national organizations and has helped start three local groups. Phil also gives talks to local groups and Large conventions. He has presented at TAM (The Amazing Meeting) and Skepticon – just to name a few. (more listed below)

Phil gives talks on many subjects:
-Homeopathy and the power of 10
-Science Based Investing – How Science and Reason can help you make money and reduce risk.
-Socially Responsible Mutual Funds
-Breaking The Cycle – Helping Kids out of Religion
-Atheism 101
-The Bible according to LEGOs
-Vaccines and the rise of the anti-vax movement

Phil’s company Polaris Financial Planning gives at least 10% of gross revenue to promote the secular movement. Polaris was the only corporate sponsor for the Reason Rally and he supports many conventions each year – Logicon, Reason in the Rock, Apostacon, Skepticon and Humanism at Work are a few examples.

Her seventh child, Wesley, was born by emergency caesarean section, at the Faith Regional Hospital. She had planned to give birth at home, without attendance by a medical professional, but her uterus partially ruptured during labour, almost killing her. Her doctor advised her that her life would be in danger if she continued to conceive, but her friends in the Quiverfull movement said otherwise: “I was told that a woman shouldn’t shrink back from supposed dangers and that we should honour God with our bodies,” she says. “Jesus died for us, we should be willing to die for him.” She became pregnant twice more, suffering two miscarriages.

Garrison asserts that her then-husband beat and emotionally bullied their children. “I started seeing my kids completely break down. I recognised how abusive my husband had become as a result of this patriarchal teaching, which gave sanction to some of his worst tendencies. I had to step in and protect my kids because I didn’t want to see them getting hurt.” She says that one of her children attempted suicide. Garrison began corresponding with an intellectual atheist uncle whose gentle questions helped her acknowledge her mounting crisis of faith. When, during a brief separation, Garrison’s husband sent her a list of the ways in which she had been disobedient, she filed for divorce and won custody of all seven children.[3]

She now calls herself an atheist. In 2015 American Atheists named her the 2014 Atheist of the Year.

Many remember Rebecca Vitsmun coming out of her atheist closet on live national television after saving her and her son’s lives from a tornado that destroyed her home. Shortly after, while standing in the rubble of her home and being proselytized to by volunteers, Rebecca made the decision to find a humanist disaster recovery team to become involved with, only to discover none existed. She has teamed up with Foundation Beyond Belief to use her award-winning background in volunteer coordination to develop our HDR Teams program. Rebecca’s favorite thing in life is about 3 feet tall and goes by the name of Anders.

As HDR Teams Development Coordinator, Rebecca is collaborating with secular groups leaders, potential volunteers, and experts in various areas of disaster recovery to develop the first national disaster recovery volunteer program for our community.

 

James Croft is a Humanist activist and public speaker who has swiftly become one of the best-known new faces in Humanism today. He is a graduate of the Universities of Cambridge and Harvard, and is recently completed his Doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  As a leader in training in the Ethical Culture movement – a national movement of Humanist congregations – he is an in-demand public speaker, an engaging teacher, and a passionate activist for human rights. James was raised on Shakespeare, Sagan and Star Trek, and is a proud, gay Humanist. His upcoming book “The Godless Congregation”, co-authored with New York Times bestselling author Greg Epstein, is being published by Simon & Schuster.

In his academic work James primarily studies the philosophy of education, including to how the arts help us learn and grow, and he’s particularly interested in how the arts promote ethical and existential development. James has recently defended his doctoral thesis, an investigation of the nature, value and development of autonomy – what he calls “Free Thinking”. He holds an M.Ed in Arts in Education from HGSE, and an MA in Education with Drama and English from the University of Cambridge, where he graduated with a double first-class degree and won a number of academic awards. James is privileged to have been made a Frank Knox Memorial Fellow, which enabled him to complete his studies, and is proud to have been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

James is an Ambassador for the Teach First program (essentially Teach for America in the UK), from which he graduated with distinction in July 2007. Under the program he spent two years teaching English (and some Drama!) in a high school in Feltham, West London.

- photo by Jossiah Mannion

- photo by Thomas True

Rebecca Vitsmun

Matt Dillahunty

- photo by Thomas True

REBECCA S. MARKERT attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and received her B.A. in political science, international relations and German in 1998. After graduating from UW–Madison, Markert spent one year working as a legislative fellow at the German Parliament in Bonn, Germany. In the fall 1999, she returned to the United States and began working as a legislative correspondent and assistant to the chief of staff for United States Senator Russ Feingold in Washington, D.C. In 2002, she returned to Madison, Wisconsin, to work on Senator Feingold’s 2004 re-election campaign. After the campaign, Markert attended Roger Williams University School of Law and received her Juris Doctor in 2008. She joined the Foundation staff in October 2008.

Markert is the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s first staff attorney and primarily works on Establishment Clause cases. She is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, Dane County Bar Association and is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin.

 ELIZABETH CAVELL received her B.A in English from the University of Florida in 2005. After college, Cavell 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.

William Poire

Dana Fredsti

John Loftus

Keith Lowell Jensen

Dillahunty is an outspoken atheist and fierce advocate of the concept of separation of church and state. Having been raised as a fundamentalist Baptist and having studied with the intent of going to seminary and becoming a minister before his bout of apostasy, Dillahunty is familiar with the Christian fundamentalist mindset, and very knowledgeable about both the history and the text of the Bible. While he is not formally educated in any scientific field, it's clear from watching his shows that he has amassed enough of a working knowledge of biology, cosmology, and geology to defend these fields from creationists, including Ray Comfort. Dillahunty does not claim to have any expertise in any of these fields and will frequently admit that his knowledge is limited, even as he soundly schools creationists who declare their own willful ignorance of science.

Rebecca Markert & Elizaeth Cavell

William Poire is the current Vice President and former President of Atheist Community of Tulsa, founder of FreeOK, and Oklahoma Regional Director for American Atheists. In 2013, while acting in his official capacity with American Atheists, he became a plaintiff in federal lawsuit against the statute which led to the “Ten Commandments” monument being erected at the Oklahoma State Capitol after having submitted his objections. The case, filed as American Atheists, Inc. v. Historic Preservation Commission, USDC WD Oklahoma, was later dismissed. He currently resides in Broken Arrow, OK with his wife and three children.

James Croft

Dana Fredsti is an actress with a background in theatrical sword-fighting, whose credits include the cult classic Army of Darkness. Her favorite projects, however, included acting alongside Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead) and Josef Pilato (Day of the Dead). She has been a producer, director, and screenplay writer for stage and film, and was the co-writer/associate producer on Urban Rescuers, a documentary on feral cats which won Best Documentary at the 2003 Valley Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Along with her best friend Maureen, Dana was co-producer/writer/director for a mystery-oriented theatrical troupe based in San Diego. While no actual murders occurred during their performances, there were times when the actors and clients made the idea very tempting. These experiences were the basis for her mystery novel Murder for Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon (Rock Publications, 2007). Dana also co-wrote What Women Really Want in Bed (Quiver Press) with Cynthia Gentry, their second writing partnership after Secret Seductions, for which Dana used the pseudonym Roxanne Colville.

She has written numerous published articles, essays, and shorts, including stories in Cat Fantastic IV, an anthology edited by Andre Norton (Daw, 1997), Danger City (Contemporary Press, 2005), Mondo Zombie (Cemetery Dance, 2006), and Hungry for Your Love (St. Martin’s Press, 2010). Her essays can be seen in Morbid Curiosity, Issues 2-7, as well as the anthology Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues Scribner, 2009). Dana  finished Plague World (Titan Books, August 2014), the third book in her Ashley Parker paranormal/zombie series (think Buffy meets The Walking Dead) and is hard at work on a new urban fantasy series.  She also has written spicy genre romance under her nom de plume Inara LaVey.

sethandrews.net

Vyckie Garrison

James is an experienced actor and singer, having performed in many locations around the world including St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Oriole Park in Baltimore, the Barbican Centre, and the Royal Albert Hall. He has sung with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, and has taken on such varied roles as Oedipus, Jacques and Touchstone (As You Like It), Thomas Becket (Murder in the Cathedral) and Father Christmas. He currently sings with the Gateway Men’s Chorus. Amongst those who have seen him speak, James’ passion for public speaking is legendary.

For two years James worked part-time for the London Shakespeare Workout Prison Project (LSW), a charity that takes Shakespeare into prisons around the UK. During his association with LSW he visited HMP Send, Highpoint, Brixton and Pentonville, and helped organise a production of The House of Bernarda Alba that was performed at the Criterion Theatre in London. This was the first occasion on which inmates from a closed prison (HMP Send) were given leave to perform on a London Stage.

James is a committed Humanist and a Humanist Celebrant, who wants to build communities which foster the development of non-religious social capital and give naturalists the space to come together and appreciate each other more deeply. To further this aim, James works as the Outreach Director of the Ethical Society of St. Louis – one of the largest Humanist communities in the world. He believes that society is desperately in need of living communities dedicated to human flourishing and freedom.

Shelley Segal

Garrison was born in Yuba City, California on December 14, 1965. At 16, in the early 1980s, she married a high school boyfriend and moved to Carson City, Nevada subsisting on Job Corps positions. Garrison began listening to a Christian radio station and attending a Pentecostal church. Garrison’s marriage ended, and she became pregnant with her oldest daughter during a short-lived affair. She moved to Iowa to be near her mother and met Warren Bennett at a church picnic. She was married to Bennett for 18 years, and had six children with him. Garrison followed a new pastor’s counsel to homeschool her growing family, which eventually led her to the Quiverfull movement.

She and her husband wrote and published a newspaper for families that adhered to the Quiverfull philosophy, and wrote articles for various publications for Christian homeschoolers. Her husband, Warren, was blinded in a work accident and, she says, had trouble keeping a job. She says she founded their paper in part to create a sales position for him, to maintain the illusion of his heading their family.[1] She includes an example of her writing for the Quiverfull movement in the blog entry "Vyckie's Tour de Crap: Quiverfull and the Life of the Mother."

The Bennetts were named Nebraska’s “family of the year” in 2003 by the Nebraska Family Council, a nonprofit that works "to uphold biblical principles in society."

Her third child was born by caesarean section. Her doctor at the time advised her that her life would be endangered by future pregnancies, so her husband had a vasectomy. Shortly after the vasectomy, she was introduced, via her Christian homeschooling friends, to Mary Pride's "The Way Home: Beyond Feminism and Back to Reality" and "God's Plans for Families" by Nancy Campbell. She shared the anti-birth control, pro-natalist views she'd gleaned from those books with Warren, who subsequently underwent a vasectomy reversal.

Bro. Sam Singleton

Phil Ferguson

Matt Dillahunty is one of the current hosts of the webcast and cable access television show "The Atheist Experience", and from 2006 to 2013 served as the president of the Atheist Community of Austin. He is also a founder of the comprehensive counter-apologetics Wiki "Iron Chariots".

Keith Lowell Jensen is an comedian, actor and producer, known for Keith Lowell Jensen: Atheist Christmas (2014), The Coexist Comedy Tour (2012) and Palace of Stains (2007).


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