Urged on by my (future) husband, I offered an alternative. I'd stay with the ACLU but write a column every other week for the Sunday Perspective section. Then Phil could evaluate my writing and I could experience life as a journalist, at least part time.
Three years later, I was hooked and came onboard as a full-time columnist and editorial writer.
During the last 16 years, this most unexpected of writing careers has been a remarkable journey, taking me to the home of Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg and to the Riyadh palace of then-Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. It has allowed me to work alongside talented opinion and news journalists at this newspaper and with dozens of colleagues from newspapers around the country.
Now, after national syndication, more than 800 columns and thousands of editorials, I am leaving the Tampa Bay Times to return to my roots in progressive advocacy and nonprofit administration. I have been named executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science in Washington.
If you've never heard of Richard Dawkins, he is an Oxford evolutionary biologist and best-selling author of numerous books. Prospect magazine named him the number one "World Thinker" in 2013. In the mold of astronomer Carl Sagan, Dawkins has a remarkable talent for translating complex scientific concepts for the lay person.
Dawkins has also built a major public following for his articulate defense of atheism and rejection of the supernatural. In 2006, he wrote, The God Delusion, which catapulted him into the spotlight as a leading scientific voice for nontheism.
His foundation promotes scientific literacy and evidence-based thinking about the natural world. It fights religious extremism, particularly when it encroaches on public policy and education (issues such as Intelligent Design, stem cell research, etc.)
Taking a page from the LGBT playbook, the foundation also seeks to reduce the social stigma surrounding atheists, agnostics and other secularists by urging nonbelievers to "come out of the closet."
There is an axiom in American politics, real or perceived, that it's nearly impossible to get elected as a nontheist. Astoundingly, of 535 members of Congress, there are no "out" atheists, although atheists make up a larger proportion of the U.S. population than Jews or Muslims. This political exclusion needs to change, and it will if atheists would stand up and be counted...Continue reading.
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