Co-president, Freedom From Religion Foundation
Minister Turned Atheist
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. He served as associate pastor at a Friend's (Quaker) Church, an Assembly of God, and an independent Charismatic church. Dan was a Protestant missionary in Mexico for a total of two years.
Dan maintained a touring musical ministry for 17 years, 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 many 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.
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. He is a contributing editor of Freethought Today and is involved with the Foundation's state/church lawsuits.
Losing Faith In Faith: From Preacher To Atheist
Dan's autobiographical story of deconversion, and a critical analysis of Christianity and the bible. FFRF, Inc., 1992.
Just Pretend: A Freethought Book For Children
Overtly freethought. Compares God and Santa, myth with reality, and celebrates atheism and freedom of thought. FFRF, Inc., 1988. (2002 new edition)
Maybe Yes, Maybe No: A Guide For Young Skeptics
Teaches the scientific method to children. Prometheus Books, 1990.
Maybe Right, Maybe Wrong: A Guide For Young Thinkers
Teaches humanistic morality to children. Prometheus Books, 1992.
Dan also has written a variety of educational booklets, brochures and "nontracts" for the Foundation.
See Dan's Online Writings
Dan has appeared on many national television talkshows, including the Phil Donahue Show (twice), Sally Jessy Raphael Show (three times), and twice with Oprah Winfrey. He has also appeared on the national 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, and Court TV's "Pros & Cons" show hosted by Nancy Grace.
Dan has been a guest on many regional TV talkshows and dozens of radio interviews across the continent. He regularly speaks and performs freethought concerts around the country at Unitarian-Universalist congregations, Ethical Culture, universities (including Harvard), and humanist conventions.
Dan Barker has participated in more than 60 formal public debates on such topics as:
Does God exist?
Does God not exist? (See example. Obtain a DVD.)
Does ethics require God? (Hear debate)
Should government and religion be strictly separate?
Did Jesus rise from the dead? (See example)
Jesus of Nazareth: messiah or myth?
Is Christianity true?
Is the bible an acceptable guide for morality?
Is the Bible full of errors and deceit? (hear entire debate)
Is America a Christian nation?
See a list of Dan's debate opponents.
In 2004, the Freedom From Religion Foundation produced "Beware of Dogma," a musical CD with 16 freethought songs. In 2001, the Foundation produced "Friendly Neighborhood Atheist," a 2-CD musical album with 34 of Dan's freethought songs covering the years 1985-2000. Dan has also produced three musical cassettes for the Foundation, including "My Thoughts Are Free," (with feminist songwriter Kristin Lems), "Reason's Greetings: All Year 'Round," and "Dan Barker Salutes: Freethought Then & Now." (See descriptions.)
Dan's freethought songs include:
The Battle of Church & State (traditional) [free download]
We, The People (mambo)
Friendly, Neighborhood Atheist (2-step)
Just Say NO To Religion (rock)
Nothing Fails Like Prayer (cha-cha)
Beware of Dogma (tango)
Salt Lake City Blues (with Steve Benson) [free download]
God-Less America (with Steve Benson, music Irving Berlin)
Sunday Morning Blues
The Freethinker Blues
Why BSA? (disco, with Steve Benson)
None of the Above (country)
My Father's House (rock)
Lucifer's Lament ("hip-hop")
Freedom From Religion (rock ballad)
You Can't Win With Original Sin (blues)
Blood Brothers (ballad)
I Don't Need Jesus (gospel)
No Hurry To Die (latin)
Life Is Good! (gospel)
Higher Mind (ballad)
Promise of Dawn (ballad, with Juanice Charmaine)
"The World Is My Country" (waltz, based on Thomas Paine)
"No Gods, No Masters" (folk, about Margaret Sanger)
Love (ballad, words by Robert G. Ingersoll)
God's Grandeur (show, words by Philip Appleman)
Summers of Love (jazz ballad, words by Philip Appleman)
The Time To Be Happy Is Now (waltz, based on Robert G. Ingersoll)
The Trinity (showtune, words by Robert G. Ingersoll)
The World's Need (waltz, poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox)
Solstice Tribute (new lyrics to "Little Town of Bethlehem")
Benediction ("hymn," poem by Sherry Matulis)
Dan composed and produced "The Stay-Away Pope Polka," a protest song played by radio stations and sung by protest groups across the country when the pope visited America in 1987 and 1993. A 90-minute videotape of one of Dan's freethought concerts was produced by the Foundation in 1991.
Dan was born in 1949, raised in southern California, and has lived in Madison, Wisconsin since 1985. He has composed more than 200 songs that have been published and/or recorded, working extensively with children's author Joy Berry on children's educational materials. (He also contributed word puzzles for Joy's project with Amnesty International and with the American Red Cross.) He has worked as a computer programmer, designing and installing software for railroad dispatchers, and currently maintains the Foundation's computer systems and database. Dan plays professional solo piano at clubs and hotels, and in jazz combos and big bands at weddings, receptions and parties.
Dan speaks fluent Spanish and is studying Russian and Icelandic. He belongs to a number of High-IQ societies, including The Prometheus Society, with an entrance requirement at the 99.997th percentile, and plays in chess tournaments. He is a member of the Lenni Lenape (Delaware Indian) Tribe of Native Americans, and in 1991 edited and published Paradise Remembered, a collection of his Grandfather's stories as a Lenape boy in Indian Territory.
Dan married Annie Laurie Gaylor in 1987 at a feminist/freethought ceremony at Freethought Hall in Sauk City, Wisconsin. Dan has five children and seven grandchildren.
Dan Barker can be reached at:
PO Box 750
Madison WI 53701