We are a diverse group, in age, ethnicity, wealth, education, politics, and activism. A few of us were raised without religion, but most of us came from a religious background. About the only thing on which we can all agree is that state and church should be separate. Some of us are more agnostic (probably no god but can’t rule it out) and others are atheists (all gods are created by humans). Given our wide range of opinions, we have found that focusing on what we have in common is the best way to keep our group going and giving people new to the idea of atheism a place in which to feel comfortable and explore their options.
Most of us consider atheism a “gateway”. Some people are very social and want to have a community of people, and some people want the intellectual stimulation of lectures and discussions. We try to provide both aspects to our members, interesting speakers and topics, freeform discussion, and social events.
The vast majority of us are not what you call “militant” atheists. While many of us are anti-religion, we don’t go out of our way to antagonize our religious neighbors. We will, however, object to the involvement of religion in government activities. Our resources are extremely limited, so we have to work with other groups and organizations to try and prevent this from happening.
Board Members and Officers
Al Hann - Vice Chair Brad Perryman
Ed Golly - Chair
A of F Life Member and Tampa resident Ed Golly, 59, is currently President and acting director of the organization. Reared religion-free by atheist parents, Golly’s perception of the conflict between religion and science rendered it incomprehensible that such primitive concepts outlined in christianity were still held to be credible in the Twentieth Century. Golly joined American Atheists in 1985, eventually becoming a Life Member. Tampa Bay Chapters were formed twice under directors who eventually left, leaving Golly to run them. When AA dissolved all chapters, Atheists of Florida was incorporated. Members of the former AA chapter joined A of F and formed the Tampa Bay Chapter, which Golly directed for over 10 years. Golly’s 20-year involvement with A of F has included: production of nearly all newsletters from the second issue to present. Participation in every board meeting since the first, having always held at least one officer position. Participation in all Public Access TV productions, 5 years in Miami and 5 1/2 years in Tampa. Production of all Web casts, All outreach and public awareness events conducted by the organization. Golly donates the office space currently used as headquarters for A of F. He has worked continuously to see the organization evolve into a financially viable institution that could draw talented, activist members, and wants to expand its objectives. Golly owned a commercial illustration studio and is a private pilot who volunteers his aircraft for medical patient transport .
Eileen Stafford - Secretary
I am Jim Peterson, 67, from Tampa, Fl. I attended Brandon High school and USF majoring in philosophy & communications ’72, and received a CET through Coyne American Institute ’79. I have been a member of the Tampa chapter of AoF for many years, as well as the following organizations: Humanist Society of the Suncoast (President), Atheists of Florida (Board), Tampabay Post Carbon Council (President), Tampa Humanist Association (Director), Center for Inquiry, AHA, ACLU (Pinellas Board), and Council for Securlar Humanism. I became involved with the movement as president of the Humanists of Tallahassee in 1987. I’ve been a member of both AHA and CFI over 25 years and active in AoF since 1994. I’ve written and edited numerous Humanist/Atheists publications over 25 years. I was editor of HoF Newsletter for 13 years, and currently the Humanist Society Newsletter. In my spare time I operate Metrodirect Communications. I believe it is important to preserve the organization’s integrity even as we explore new avenues to promote the atheist idea. A most important responsibility of any atheist organization is to simply be there, to provide an opportunity to make the leap to freedom that is atheism. While the internet provides important tools to guide a good philosophical understanding, there is no substitute for the support and encouragement of those who have been there before.
I have been an active member of Atheists of Florida since 2005 and have been an atheist for 35 years. I live in Pinellas Park, affiliate myself with the Tampa chapter of Atheists of Florida, and currently serve as the Chairman of the Board and Acting Secretary on the Board of Directors for our organization. My past activities include working on the production crew for the Atheist Forum public access TV program 2006-2008, serving as a panelist for our “Meet the Atheist” community interaction in Pinellas Park, FL June 2010, and working at many of our outreach booths at various events such as the Festival of Reading and the State Fair. I graduated from the University of Notre Dame and I am currently a bank officer at Bank of America. I feel very strongly that religion is a divisive concept that needs to eradicated from our government. The free-thought /atheist community is ever increasing and could wield significant influence should we ever organize our forces.