Last updated on: 2/12/2013 12:05:11 PM PST | Author: ProCon.org

Dan Barker Biography

Title:
Former evangelical minister and Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF)
Position:
Con to the question "Should Churches (Defined as Churches, Temples, Mosques, Synagogues, etc.) Remain Tax-Exempt?"
Reasoning:

“Tax advantages to churches and religious organizations should be curtailed and brought in line with those granted to secular charitable groups. Whatever public good might stem from some religious activity, it is no greater than that accomplished by secular groups. They should be treated equally.

A tax benefit should be justified by public accountability. Churches should be required to notify the I.R.S. of their intent to claim church status, to pay the same filing fees and submit the onerous annual 990 form, and reporting income and expenses, like all other 501(c)(3) groups. The current law gives unfair advantages to churches, which, unlike other nonprofits, do not have to disclose their financial activities. This lack of governmental oversight and accountability opens the door to scams, crime, con artists and abuse by people working under ‘church status’ that is much too common… The horrible massacre at Jonestown, Guyana, for example, could not have occurred had the Rev. Jim Jones been held accountable to the government while amassing his armory, drugs, wealth and control over minors.”

“Government Is Endorsing Religion,” New York Times, May 9, 2012

Theoretical Expertise Ranking:
Organizations/VIPs/Others
Individuals and organizations that do not fit into the other star categories.
Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Co-President, Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), Nov. 2004-present
  • Co-host, Freethought Radio podcast (formerly broadcast on the Air America network)
  • Contributing Editor, Freethought Today
  • Public Relations Director, FFRF, 1987-2004
  • Former writer and producer, “Mini Musicale,” Gospel Light Publications’ Vacation Bible School curriculum
  • Former accompanist, arranger, and record producer for Manuel Bonilla (Christian singer)
  • Former accompanist for Pat Boone, Jimmy Roberts, and Audrey Meier
  • Former regular guest on Praise The Lord (Southern California TV program)
  • Writer of the children’s Christian musicals Mary Had a Little Lamb (1977), and His Fleece Was White As Snow (1978)
  • Former Protestant missionary, Mexico
  • Former Associate Pastor at three California churches: Arcadia Friend’s Church, Glengrove Assembly of God, and Standard Christian Center
  • Former touring musical evangelical minister
  • Ordained to the ministry, Standard Community Church, CA, May 25, 1975
  • Pianist and composer, performing on FFRF CDs/cassettes titled My Thoughts Are Free, Reason’s Greetings, Dan Barker Salutes Freethought Then And Now, Friendly Neighborhood Atheist, Beware of Dogma, and Adrift on a Star
  • Appeared on the Phil Donahue Show, Sally Jessy Raphael Show, Oprah Winfrey Show, Morton Downey, Jr. Show, Maury Povich Show, NightTalk with Jane Whitney, A Closer Look with Faith Daniels, Shirley Show, Straight Talk, Good Morning America, Religion & Ethics News Weekly, Hannity & Colmes, Court TV’s Pros & Cons, and other programs
  • Education:
  • BA, Religion, Azusa Pacific University, 1987
  • Contact Info:
    Phone
    608-256-8900 (FFRF)
    Email
    Online Contact Form
    Website
    FFRF.org
    Other:
  • Lives in Madison, WI
  • Speaks fluent Spanish
  • Member, The Prometheus Society (high IQ organization requiring members to be at the 99.997th percentile)
  • Member, Lenni Lenape (Delaware Indian) Tribe of Native Americans
  • Volunteer, American Red Cross
  • Participated in more than 80 formal public debates
  • Had his song “There Is One” performed by Rev. Robert Schuller’s television choir on Hour of Power
  • Has five children
  • Married Annie Laurie Gaylor (now Co-President of FFRF), 1987
  • Born June 25, 1949
  • “It was very exciting to let go (of faith in God)… but it also felt like I was betraying my family, like I was spitting on grandma. I had to struggle to ask myself if I wanted to pick God or truth. If I picked God, I’d stay in harmony with everybody, and in harmony with my own psychology. If I picked truth, what would happen? I took about a year to fully adjust. Like there’s a death at the family or a divorce, you don’t just snap your fingers and it’s over.”
    Quoted by Richard von Busack, “Heretical Animals,” MetroActive.com (accessed Dec. 12, 2012)
  • Quoted in:
    Should Churches (Defined as Churches, Temples, Mosques, Synagogues, etc.) Remain Tax-Exempt? – Pro & Con Quotes