FFRF’s ‘Freethought Matters’ TV show debuts

FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker, left, and Annie Laurie Gaylor sit on set with photojournalist Chris Johnson during filming of the first episode of “Freethought Matters,” FFRF’s new TV show. (Photo by Chris Line)

FFRF has launched a new TV program for a local — and a national — audience.

On Jan. 7, FFRF unveiled its newest project: a weekly television show, in its hometown of Madison, Wis. “Freethought Matters,” a half-hour talk-show format generally hosted by FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor, airs on CBS affiliate Channel 3 Sundays at 11 p.m.

“We consider ‘Freethought Matters’ partly as an antidote to the Sunday morning church hour,” Gaylor says. “But, mostly, we want to acquaint the community with the range of fascinating nonreligious authors and activists.”

The guests include heavyweights such as Harvard evolutionary psychologist and best-seller Steven Pinker, FFRF’s honorary president, The New York Times’ newest columnist Michelle Goldberg, comedian Julia Sweeney and Nation columnist Katha Pollitt, each of whom spoke at FFRF’s most recent convention in Madison. Pinker’s interview will air shortly after his much-awaited book, Enlightenment Now, comes out in February.

The debut guest was Chris Johnson, a photojournalist who produced the book, A Better Life:  100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God, with a film version of the same name. His upbeat interview acquaints viewers not only with nonbelieving celebrities, but the global diversity of atheists. Today, “Nones” (those identifying as atheists, agnostics and not with any religion) are outpacing denominations such as Catholicism at nearly a quarter of the overall population and more than a third of Millennials.

For those who are not in the Madison area, you will be able to view the timely interviews the day after the shows air by visiting FFRF’s YouTube channel.

“We want to reach the unmassed masses with the truly ‘good news’ of freethought,” says Barker.

Other upcoming guests include Iranian-born secular London-based activist Maryam Namazie, science journalist and Los Angeles-based TV host Cara Santa Maria, Chicago black atheist activist Kimberly Veal, well-known atheist blogger Greta Christina of San Francisco, renowned sculptor Zenos Frudakis, and American Indian composer Brent Michael Davids, who lives on the Stockbridge-Munsee reservation in Wisconsin.

Upcoming guest hosts include Amit Pal, FFRF’s director of communications, formerly a longtime editorial staffer at The Progressive. The director of the show is Bruce Johnson, who recently joined FFRF’s staff after years at public television, and the producer is Lauryn Seering, FFRF’s communications coordinator. FFRF extends thanks for camera help to FFRF Legal Fellow Chris Line, and pinch-hitters Marian Herzog, Mike Remington, Mike Foley and Veronica Plum.