President of American Atheists
"In Defense of Firebrand Atheism"
Sunday, February 24th
4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
David Silverman is President of the American Atheists, a non-profit organization founded in 1963. Now in its fourth decade, American Atheists is dedicated to working for the civil rights of atheists, promoting separation of state and church, and providing information about atheism.
Mr. Silverman attended Brandeis University, where he completed his Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science while honing his debating skills with theists in numerous informal debates. Dave served as a professional inventor at Bell labs for eight years (74 issued patents) and a Marketing Director for Natural microsystems.
Dave has been an atheist since he was six years old. He became an activist in 1996 and soon became New Jersey State Director. He also founded the Alliance of Lucent and AT&T Atheists and Secularists, the first employee club of its kind. He was tapped to be the National Spokesperson in 2004, and then was named Vice President in 2008. The Board of Directors elected Dave as President in September of 2010.
Mr. Silverman has appeared on most major news programs including The O'Reilly Factor (spawning the famous "WTF meme-face"), Scarborough Country, The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, CNN's Paula Zahn NOW, Nick News, Hannity and Colmes, FOX and Friends, NPR's All Things Considered, and many more. Dave hosts the Atheist Viewpoint TV show with co-host Dennis Horvitz.
Bill O'Reilly found himself in quite the screaming match on Wednesday.
O'Reilly hosted president of the American Atheist Group David Silverman on his Fox News program to discuss what he called "this year's Christmas controversy situation," and those who oppose public displays of the holiday.
"You're an atheist, a non-believer, and I respect that, that's fine. I don't look down on you," O'Reilly said. "But why are you messing around with Christmas? Just leave it alone."
Silverman said his organization was "not messing around with anything" but trying to stop "the government from preferring one religion over the other."
O'Reilly argued that "Christianity is not a religion, [but] a philosophy." Silverman said that the "Winter Solstice has been celebrated since the dawn of time" but the U.S. government "shouldn't take sides" by referring to the federal holiday as Christmas.
O'Reilly encouraged Silverman to celebrate the Winter Solstice. "If you wanted to go up to Albany and put up a 'Happy Winter Solstice' sign on [Gov.] Andrew Cuomo's office door, I got no problem with it," O'Reilly said.
"Yeah, I think you would have a problem," Silverman said.
O'Reilly leaned forward and pointed his index finger straight at Silverman's face. "Don't tell me what I think. When I said I didn't have a problem, I don't have a problem. Got it?"
He added, "Winter Solstice is not a religion, it's a holiday. If [Cuomo] wants to put 'Winter Solstice' on his office door, I got no problem with it."
"Actually it's a celestial event," Silverman said. "And you're right, it would be secular."
"Jesus Christ," O'Reilly said. "I'm sorry I just said Jesus Christ—that's a religious—he was a man."
O'Reilly later told Silverman that his "point of view is insane," and referred to his organization as a "merry band of fascists."
"You are a fascist," O'Reilly said. "Banish Christmas trees from the public square. That's what you do. That's what you want."
"That's not what I do!" Silverman said. "Stop telling me what I do!"