Minister Turned Atheist
Dan became a teenage evangelist at age 15. At 16 he was choir librarian
for faith-healer Kathryn Kuhlman’s Los Angeles appearances. He received
a degree in Religion from Azusa Pacific University and was ordained to
the ministry by the Standard Community Church, California, in 1975. (See ordination.)
He served as associate pastor in three California churches: Arcadia
Friend’s Church (Quaker), Glengrove Assembly of God (Hacienda Heights),
and Standard Christian Center, an independent Charismatic church loosely
affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ tradition) in
Standard, California. Dan was a Protestant missionary in Mexico for a
total of two years.
Dan preached for 19 years. He maintained an ongoing touring musical
ministry, including eight years of full-time, cross-country evangelism.
An accomplished pianist, record producer, arranger and songwriter, he
worked with Christian music companies such as Manna Music and Word
Music. For a few years, Dan wrote and produced the annual “Mini
Musicale” for Gospel Light Publications’ Vacation Bible School
For more than two decades, Dan was accompanist, arranger, and record
producer for Manuel Bonilla, the leading Christian singer in the
Spanish-speaking world. He accompanied on the piano such Christian
personalities as Pat Boone, Jimmy Roberts (of the Lawrence Welk Show),
and gospel songwriter Audrey Meier, and was a regular guest on Southern
California’s “Praise The Lord” TV show (Spanish). One of Dan’s Christian
songs, “There Is One,” was performed by Rev. Robert Schuller’s
television choir on the “Hour of Power” broadcast. To this day, he
receives royalties from his popular children’s Christian musicals, “Mary
Had a Little Lamb” (1977), and “His Fleece Was White As Snow” (1978),
both published by Manna Music and performed in many countries.
Following five years of reading, Dan gradually outgrew his religious
beliefs. “If I had limited myself to Christian authors, I’d still be a
Christian today,” Dan says. “I just lost faith in faith.” He announced
his atheism publicly in January, 1984. He tells his story in the books Losing Faith in Faith (1992) and Godless (2008).
Dan was PR Director of the Freedom From Religion Foundation from 1987
to 2004. He was elected co-president of the Foundation with Annie Laurie
Gaylor in 2004, with whom he is co-host of Freethought Radio, a
national weekly talkshow on the Air America network. He is a
contributing editor of Freethought Today and is involved with the
Foundation’s state/church lawsuits. He regularly travels the country and
the world giving lectures, performing concerts, and participating in
debates with theists, many at college and university campuses.