Minister-Turned-Atheist Discusses Journey to Deconversion in Lawrence University Address

A former minister and Protestant missionary who publicly announced his atheism nine years after his ordination discusses his journey to deconversion and offers a critical analysis of Christianity in an address at Lawrence University.

Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, presents “Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist” Wednesday, May 17 at 8 p.m. in the Wriston Art Center auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

The presentation is based on Barker’s 1992 autobiographical book of the same name. His began his ministry as a 15-year old evangelist and he was ordained in 1975. Barker went on to serve as an associate pastor at three different churches and later spent two years in Mexico as a Protestant missionary.

An accomplished pianist, arranger, songwriter and long-time record producer for popular Christian singer Manuel Bonilla, Barker maintained his own touring musical ministry for 17 years. But in 1984, after five years of soul-searching, Barker “lost faith in faith” and openly declared his atheism. He joined the staff of the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation in 1987 and was elected the organization’s co-president in 2004.

Barker has been a frequent talk-show guest, having appeared on “Good Morning, America,” “Oprah” and “Hannity and Colmes,” among others, and speaks regularly at Freethought concerts around the country. In additional to “Losing Faith in Faith,” he has written four other books, including “Just Pretend: A Freethought Book For Children” and “Maybe Yes, Maybe No: A Guide For Young Skeptics.”

Barker’s appearance is sponsored by the student organization LU Forum for Freethought, which promotes critical discussions of contemporary religion, superstition and pseudoscience and their place in and effects on society from scientific, philosophical, historical and governmental perspectives.