American Atheists

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David Silverman took feminist Rebecca Watson off the speakers list for the Reason Rally after Richard Dawkins objected to her speaking at the event.[1] See: Elevatorgate

American Atheists is an American militant atheist group founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O'Hair (see also: American atheism).

Though officially supporting the "civil liberties of Atheists" and the "total, absolute separation of government and religion,"[2] material found on their website suggests that they are hostile to religion and may be more anti-religion than pro-atheist (see 'Excerpts' section below).


Excerpts from the American Atheists' website

For more information please see: American Atheists - Excerpts from their website

In order to remain objective, this section of the article contains only direct quotes cited and taken from The following quotes may serve to display the general beliefs of the organization.

  • “One might naturally suppose that low intelligence is the main cause of religiosity. After all, thinking is so much harder than believing - hence the great preponderance of believers over thinkers in all ages and cultures. But what can one say when members of that small coterie we identify as thinkers are also believers? Low intelligence is not necessarily the problem.”[3]
  • “The moment of silence idea is a method to inject forced prayer into the classroom.”[4]
  • “It’s not the Christmas season, it’s the solstice season. And that’s why it’s not a war on Christmas. It’s a war on the solstice, and the Christians started it.”[5] Note, this is not not a quote from the website, it is a direct quote by David Silverman, President of American Atheists.
  • "...The rebellious churches don't want to hand over their share of the taxes. They just want to intrude even further into our political process."[6] From an opinion article on the "politics in the pulpit" issue.

2023 resignation of American Atheists board members who were dogged by misconduct allegations

See also: Atheism and leadership Atheist organizations and scandals and Atheist leaders and immoral relationships and Atheist scandals

In 2023, Mandisa Thomas resigned as a board member of the American Atheists organization amidst being accused of violating Black Nonbelievers’ code of conduct during the group's annual SeaCon cruise and conference held on a Thanksgiving weekend.[7]

On February 1, 2023, the Religious News Service reported in an article entitled American Atheists board members exit, dogged by misconduct allegations:

Two board members of American Atheists, one of the nation’s best-known atheist advocacy organizations, resigned in the past month after ethical concerns were raised about their actions at conferences for nonbelievers.

Mandisa Thomas, president of Black Nonbelievers Inc., gave up her seat on the board of American Atheists on Jan. 11, weeks after she was accused of violating Black Nonbelievers’ code of conduct during the group’s annual SeaCon cruise and conference held Thanksgiving weekend.

After the allegations became public, Thomas told Religion News Service that she had mishandled a “personal situation” during the conference and had apologized.

The ethics committee of the American Atheists board said in December it was aware of the matter but the organization made no mention of an ethics inquiry when Thomas resigned from the board....

Days later, P. Andrew Torrez, an attorney and co-host of the popular Opening Arguments podcast, sent an email to his fellow American Atheists board members announcing that he too was stepping down from the board...

At the time he resigned, Torrez had not been made aware that an ethics complaint had been filed with the board by an activist working with several women who accused him of sexual harassment, he told RNS. The women say Torrez sent them text messages, which they have shared with RNS, that they say made them uncomfortable.

The messages, which date from 2017 to 2022, appear to show Torrez, who is married, commenting on the appearance of several fans of the show, then apologizing when the fans push back against him, saying they are not interested.[8]

Incident relating to Richard Dawkins/Rebecca Watson

See also: Feminist quotes about Richard Dawkins

An article by Sarah posted at Skepchick about a conversation between Richard Dawkins and David Silverman (ex-president of the American Atheists organization) which took place during the planning phrase of the Reason Rally:

Richard was standing behind the podium, and he asked Dave something along the lines of, “What exactly is the Reason Rally?” Dave started explaining it, and as he did, someone who was waiting in the line outside opened the door to peek inside and we could all hear a lot of noise. I rushed up the aisle and made frantic “shut the door” gestures at the people peeking inside, and they did. As I walked the ten feet back, I couldn’t hear everything Dave was saying, but I heard the name “Rebecca Watson.” Richard suddenly had a very angry look on his face and I heard him almost shout, “No, absolutely not! If she’s going to be there, I won’t be there. I don’t want her speaking.” and then Dave immediately replied, “You’re absolutely right, we’ll take her off the roster. It’s done.” Richard huffed for a moment, Dave continued to placate him, and then he made the video.

I was crushed.[9]

For more information, please see: Elevatorgate

David Roland Waters, American Atheists and United Secularists of America scandals

See: David Roland Waters, American Atheists and United Secularists of America scandals

David Silverman, former president of American Atheists, fired due to allegations of financial conflicts and sexual assault

See also: Firing of David Silverman from the American Atheists organization and Atheism and sexism and Atheist feminism

As noted above, David Silverman served as the President of the American Atheists organization.[10] Silverman was fired due to allegations of financial conflicts and sexual assault.[11] After Silverman was terminated from his job at American Atheists, The Washington Post declared concerning Silverman, "Since then, he has lost his job, longtime friends, sleep and weight."[12]

Silverman, through his lawyer, denies any wrongdoing and indicates he has never had a non-consensual sexual encounter.[13] In 2019, atheists PZ Myers and Stephanie Zvan indicate that Silverman's attempts to improve his public image have failed.[14][15]

In his book, Fighting God, Silverman indicates that he is a “proud feminist.”[16] Concerning Silverman's scandals and subsequent firing, atheist and feminist PZ Myers said, "It's a terrible day for organized atheism."[17] Myers spent $1200 for a lifetime membership with American Atheists because he was impressed by the way Silverman went after the “anti-feminist” atheists.[18] See also: Decline of the atheist movement

American Atheist replacement of David Silverman. Commentary by atheist Ed Brayton

See also: Atheism and leadership and Western atheism and race

When David Siverman was replaced by Nick Fish who is also a white male, the atheist Ed Brayton wrote:

In the wake of the firing of David Silverman after allegations of sexual and financial misconduct, American Atheists has named Nick Fish, formerly the national program director for the group, as the new president to replace him. I find this news to be quite disappointing and it has nothing to do with Fish personally.

...I’m disappointed that they didn’t take the opportunity to appoint a woman to lead the group. Especially in the wake of Silverman’s actions that led to his downfall, I think that would have sent a very important message. More than that, it would have helped bring a perspective that is far too often ignored, dismissed and even denigrated within the broad atheist community.

We need more women in positions of leadership, and more minorities as well. We need to stop being a community led mostly by old white men like me.[19]

2017 significant drop in contributions to the American Atheists organization

See also: 2017 contributions and grants to American Atheists

The 2017 IRS tax exempt form of the American Atheists organization shows that in 2016 the contributions and grants to the American Atheists organization was $1,160,208 and in 2017 contributions and grants to the American Atheists organization dropped to $408,922 (see: 2017 contributions and grants to American Atheists).[20][21]

2018 American Atheists National Convention

See also: 2018 American Atheists National Convention

At the 2018 American Atheists National Convention, the ex-president of the American Atheists organization David Silverman declared:

It is a hard time to be an atheist activist. This has affected us. And it has affected our community... has really affected us. We are suffering a level of defeatism that I have never seen before...

We feel the loss. And we feel like we have lost. We feel like we lost the election... We see this cascade of attack coming down at us over and over from all different directions and we feel like it's over. I have heard so many times it makes me sick. It makes me sad. It feels like we lost.

The apathy that follows. It doesn't matter. We can't win anyways. It's useless to fight. This apathy is infecting us. It's hurting us.

And people are reacting to each other now. And so that is causing a division. Lots and lots of division in our movement. Hard, bad division... And that has resulted in a splintering and factioning of the movement that I have never seen before and none of us have.

In other words, we're in a bad situation and it's getting worse.[22]

American Atheists and two of its public relations problems

See also: Atheism and the media and American atheism

Most secular organizations avoid using the word atheist/atheism in their organization name

With the exception of a minority of atheist/agnostic organizations (Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Center, Atheist Foundation of Australia, The Atheist Agenda, Seattle Atheists, etc.), most secular organizations do not use the words atheism/atheist within the name of their organizations.[23][24] Instead they use the words such as secular/skeptics/humanist/rationalist/ freethought, etc. The reason is twofold: it enables the organizations to appeal to both atheists/agnostics and the words atheist/atheism have a bad reputation among the general public (see: Views on atheists). The new atheist Sam Harris said concerning the label of atheist, "It's right next to child molester as a designation."[25][26]

The American public has a very negative view of atheists (see: Views on atheists). Thus, the American Atheist organization has a branding problem in terms of the name of its organization.

Not having the word atheist in the name of secular organization and using words like humanist/rationalist/etc. instead poses a branding problem as well since many people are not familiar with words such as humanism, rationalism, etc.[27] David Silverman is a proponent of nonbelievers using the word "atheist" to describe themselves.[28]

Bad reputation of Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Madalyn Murray O'Hair, the founder of American Atheists, was a mean-spirited woman who led an immoral life (see: Immoral life of Madalyn Murray O'Hair).

For example, when her son became a Christian and decided to be an evangelist, she said: "One could call this a postnatal abortion on the part of a mother, I guess; I repudiate him entirely and completely for now and all times. ...He is beyond human forgiveness."[29]

The public has a tendency to particularly remember an organization's beginnings and its recent actions. So the bad reputation of Madalyn Murray O'Hair is a branding problem for American Atheists.

American Atheists organization's performance in debates against Christians

Madalyn Murray O'Hair debate with Dr. Walter Martin

See also: Atheism and debate

Madalyn Murray O'Hair did particularly badly in her debate with Dr. Walter Martin.[30] For example, when she claimed there were supposedly were contradictions in the Bible, Dr. Martin asked her to provide an example of one and Ms. O'Hair did not and could not offer even an alleged example of a Bible contradiction.[31] In addition, Ms. O'Hair was ill-prepared in terms of defending against the issue of atheism and mass murder.[32]

Frank Zindler Versus Dr. William Craig Debate

see also: Frank Zindler vs. William Lane Craig debate

Frank Zindler is currently the editor of American Atheist Magazine and Director of American Atheist Press. In addition, Frank Zindler serves on the board of directors for the atheist organization American Atheists plus served as an interim president of the organization.[33]

The website TrueOrigin declares concerning the debate between atheist Frank Zindler and Christian philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig:

A leading light in the American Atheists. Isn’t it amazing how so many atheists love evolution and appear to be threatened by the massive scientific evidence for creation? Zindler took the atheism side in an Atheism v. Christianity debate in front of 7,500 people at Willow Creek Community Church, USA. His opponent, Dr William Lane Craig, tore his ignorant arguments to shreds so effectively that many atheists in the audience realised that Zindler had lost the debate. It was presumably to this debate that John Snowden was alluding when he wrote that a representative of the American Atheists, whom he used to support, lost a public debate to a “fundamentalist” (Skeptic 18(3), 1998).[34]

American Atheists website

See also: Internet atheism

On August 9, 2019, the American Atheists website was ranked the 338,824th most popular website in the world by the web trafic tracking company Alexa.

American Atheists website and its loss of Google referral traffic

See also: Internet atheism and the coronavirus pandemic

According to the leading web marketing company SEMRush, the American Atheists' website has lost a large proportion of it Google referral traffic. As of April 28, 2023, according to SEMRush, the website was receiving 43,400 monthly web visits via Google referral traffic.

Google uses over 200 factors to evaluate the quality and the relevance of a website to various topics.

Demographic makeup of web visitors to the American Atheists website. Majority of its web visitors are men.

See also: Demographic makeup of web visitors to the American Atheists website and Atheist websites appear to receive significantly less traffic from women

According to, the American Atheists website receives a majority of its web traffic from men.[35]

Embarrassing incidents concerning the website of the American Atheists

See also: Internet atheism and Embarrassing incidents concerning the website of the American Atheists

Atheists searching for the keyword "athiest" at Google and the American Atheists website

See also: Internet atheism and Embarrassing incidents concerning the website of the American Atheists

Nate Phelps spoke at the 2009 American Atheists convention.[36] Nate is currently the executive director of the Center for Inquiry Canada.[37]
American Atheists website SEMRush.png
According to the leading web marketing organization SEMRush, one of the top ways that people find the American Atheists organization's website via Google searches is by misspelling the word atheist. About 18,100 Google searches a month are done for the keyword "athiest".

On October 17, 2014, Shockofgod's blog declared:

In the United States, due to more women and southerners attending college/universities, atheism is now negatively correlated with education. Also, given the significant high school dropout rates of many evolution indoctrinating public schools, this negative correlation is not entirely surprising.

As a result, American atheists contribute some of the most ill-informed/uneducated commentary on the internet.

Alexa is a popular web traffic tracking company. Below is a portion of Alexa's site overview for the website of the American Atheists organization and notice that 5.01% of their search engine traffic comes from the keyword "athiest" which is a misspelling of the world atheist.

From the Alexa website on October 17, 2014:

Site Overview

Top Keywords from Search Engines Which search keywords send traffic to this site?

Keyword Percent of Search Traffic

  • 1. atheist 52.97%
  • 2. atheism 14.80%
  • 3. american atheists 8.97%
  • 4. athiest 5.01%
  • 5. atheists 3.82%[38]

A Question evolution! campaign blog declares:

The popular Christian YouTube video creator Shockofgod just released a hilarious video entitled Proof atheism & evolution are stupid.

On the video, he first did a Google search at Google USA for the word "atheism". The #1 search result for atheism was for the website of the American Atheists organization and they misspelled the words "separation" and "church" on the main page title tag for their website. The title of their website reads: "Supporting Civil Rights for Atheists and the Seperation of Curch and ...". Did the American Atheist organization's webmaster go to one of the many evolution indoctrinating public schools with a high drop out rate? It appears so!

Is it any wonder that the American Atheists organization has been silent concerning the 15 questions for evolutionists of the Question Evolution! Campaign? Besides being poor spellers the American Atheists organization's staff is probably poor when it comes to science as well![39]

Controversial Billboard

The American Atheists organization sponsored an aggressive and controversial billboard and an interview with Fox News occurred as a result of the billboard VIDEO. The president of American Atheists David Silverman has a degree in marketing. But despite his degree in marketing, according to fellow atheist and evolutionist PZ Myers, Silverman was stuck defending a "badly designed, ugly" sign.[40]

American Atheist organization and Christmas

See also: Atheism and Christmas

CNN reported about an America Atheists billboard during the Christmas season:

However, American Atheists has rankled some churchgoers with billboards in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Raleigh, North Carolina, that say, "Go ahead and skip church! Just be good for goodness sake. Happy holidays!"

CNN affiliate KXRM of Colorado Springs noted that the billboard didn't go over well with some who saw it.

"It can be insulting to those who are religious and do celebrate it for Christianity and religion in general," one viewer said.

American Atheists' Randy Gotovich disagreed.

"We're trying to be inclusive of everyone in Christmas and saying that anyone can celebrate it. It shouldn't be viewed strictly as a Christian holiday," he said.

Such friction has long roots in American history, says Boston University religion professor Stephen Prothero. Christmas may be a religious holiday, but it's also deeply secular, creating a natural conflict.[41]

American Atheists and their challenges in terms of overweight leadership personnel

See: American Atheists and obesity

(Research suggests that extra pounds and large waists undermine perceptions of leadership ability.[42] In addition, according to medical science, there are a number of health risks associated with obesity (see: Health risks linked to obesity.)

See also


External links


  1. My Time With Richard Dawkins (Or, Why You Should Never Meet Your Idols) by Sarah at Skepchick, September 5, 2013
  7. American Atheists board members exit, dogged by misconduct allegations, Religious News Service 2023
  8. American Atheists board members exit, dogged by misconduct allegations, Religious News Service 2023
  9. My Time With Richard Dawkins (Or, Why You Should Never Meet Your Idols) by Sarah at Skepchick, September 5, 2013
  11. This Firebrand Atheist Was Just Fired After Allegations Of Financial Conflicts And Sexual Assault
  12. America’s leading atheist, accused of sexual misconduct, speaks out, Washington Post by Kimberly Winston, September 6, 2018
  13. American Atheists President David Silverman Fired After Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Christian Post, 2018
  14. David Silverman is failing Redemption 101 by PZ Myers
  15. David Silverman: Liar for the Defense by
  16. David Silverman was a “Proud Feminist”
  17. David Silverman fired from American Atheists by PZ Myers
  18. David Silverman was a “Proud Feminist”
  19. Nick Fish is New Leader of American Atheists, Ed Brayton, 2018
  20. 2017 IRS tax exempt form, American Atheists website
  21. Fundraising is way down for atheist organizations, Examining Atheism
  22. David Silverman - How the Mighty Get Back Up
  23. The Secular Directory
  24. Secular organizations
  25. Roberts, Jessica, et al. (June 19, 2007). "Interview with an atheist". News21. Retrieved on July 30, 2014.
  26. NEWSWEEK Poll: 90% Believe in God, Newsweek 2007
  27. Atheist, Humanist, Secular: Why Fight Over Labels?, Huffington Post
  28. Atheist, Humanist, Secular: Why Fight Over Labels?, Huffington Post
  29. Quoted without citation by Ted Dracos, UnGodly: The Passions, Torments, and Murder of Atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair (2003), on her son William's rejection of atheism, conversion to Christianity and calling as an evangelist.
  35. Demographics of web visitors to American Atheists website - data
  37. Huffington Post, May 2012
  38. Uneducated and illiterate American atheists
  39. More proof that atheism is stupid. American Atheists organization badly embarrasses itself
  41. How do atheists celebrate Christmas? By Todd Leopold, CNN
  42. Want to Be CEO? What's Your BMI?