Many people have suggested we start an introductions section to our forum. Here it is, and I will start things off.

My name is Richard Haynes (AKA: Brother Richard). I am a writer and public speaker who happens to lives in the buckle of the Bible belt: Atlanta, Georgia.

I was raised in a nonreligious home, but as a teenage runaway, I had a very real "born again" experience. Almost immediately I became an evangelist and personally led hundreds of individuals to Christ.

I went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies, and became an associate minister in a 12,000 member mega-church.

In 1993, a couple of months after the birth of our eldest daughter, my wife (Angela) and I made the agonizing decision to leave our church which was engulfed in scandal. Terrified and unemployed, we began our long and arduous journey to rationality and nontheism.

I am now secularly ordained and have dedicated myself to encouraging and inspiring others to "come out" of the religious closet. I am also devoted to building the atheist community.
I maintain a blog called: Life Without Faith, and I am the executive director of this wonderful site. (Which by the way is one of the world's largest atheist social networking sites).

If you would like to invite me to speak to your local group or at your convention, please feel free to contact me.

If you have any questions you would like to ask me, post them here. I will answer them all.

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As I suspected, nobody read my post before they got angry enough to skew what I actually said. Oh and my OCD is not an excuse it's a fact. I was not behaving badly, I was being honest as to how it could look and trying to help prepare Brother Richard and the staff for people who could see things the way I stated. I DID NOT say I saw them them that way. I said I was skeptical because I have never met him personally and that I was giving him the benefit of the doubt. I tried to be jovial and polite while giving a very pertinant warning of how others could view this. Yes, I know how much it costs to run a website. I know the site is'nt making money now, but it does have the potential to turn a profit in the future if it gets large enough. I am not weaving a conspiracy, I was trying to prepare you for those who would. I figure if it can cross my mind in passing, it can cross and envelop other minds. Being that I have little faith in human nature, I am betting it WILL cross and envelop others minds. You could have a rough road ahead of you. I was hoping you'd be able to see this in the spirit it was intended. It's ok I still am very grateful for the work you are doing here regardless of anyone's opinion of me, or anyone's opinion of you for that matter.

Nate, thanks. Unfortunately the OCD is a result of some brain damage and can't be drugged or talked or thought away. I have however recently found a shrink who has a different approach to the problem through hypnosis. We are going to try an re-wire my head around it. Ok that's not how he put it but it's the best I can do LOL The only other option is brain surgery and I am inclined to ... just say no to brain surgery lol ;) It's been a huge problem in my life. Being a pathological liar would be much easier. People can accept lies. Needless to say I don't have many friends.
And why do people think that because I am intelligent I can control my brain better than anyone else with a brain disorder ? I used to think people could control their impulses and thoughts regardless of what they were. I found that i was very very mistaken. Until it happens to you though, it difficult to comprehend so I try not to hold the judgments people make about me against them. I was once of that opinion as well. Anyway, I hope at some point my post can be seen in the spirit it was intended and I hope it helps.
Oh..I just thought of another way that might help better describe my intentions with that post. One of the reasons we are banding together is so we can have some political pull, a voice in society when the moral majority raises it's ugly head. Part of what I was thinking about while I wrote that is, these people will stop at nothing to discredit their opponants. I was thinking that if Brother Richard saw what might be thrown at him, he could prepare for the possible event more efficiently. I guess I did'nt post it that way because I assumed others would be able to extrapolate. Assumption is a bad thing. I apologise.
Part of what I was thinking about while I wrote that is, these people will stop at nothing to discredit their opponants.

Exactly. For that reason, it does no good to be overly concerned with what may potentially offend them or how they may perceive the motives of individual atheists. What they can't find, they make up.
Skepticism is a great and powerful tool when used properly. But when you throw the baby out with the bathwarter we get a result like the one we have here. From kudos and thanks, to a tit for tat back and forth, to a self analitic apology. But that's what makes skepticism, and this site great. To push boundry's and get to the core eventually deciding where thoes boundry's get founded.
Personally, I think that having someone like Brother Richard at the helm is a great advantage. He's been there, done that. He's walked in THERE shoes. We have a forum where we all can push our boundry's and be ourselves, ( for some of us this is one of thoes few places ). The positives outweigh the negatives and does anyone not think we ALL have something in our pasts that can be questioned??
I never could understand the point of prayer. I would be greatful if you could explain it to me. My logical thinking on this has always been that if what you want is already in god's plan then you were going to get it without praying in the first place, and if you weren't then it wasn't in the plans to begin with and there was nothing you could do to alter the plan in the first place....so I ask then what is the point of prayer??
Thank you! Thank you for this refuge of sanity and reason, thank you.
Ye're a good man, Brother Richard!

Brother Richard, Your story is compelling, and the direction you're taking your life now is just great.  As you well know, coming out of the religious closet means changing just about everything in your life - a daunting task indeed.

I've just completed a book, an illustrated work, I hope will help those wishing to come out of the religious closet.  Here's our blurb about it:

Internationally enjoyed illustrator Jeff Stilwell's new work, Here and Now, a whimsical take on God, stars Stilwell's freethinking alter ego Thrashin' Jack in over one hundred charming illustrations.  Here and Now will be available on Amazon Kindle June 1, 2014.
Here and Now is just over 100 pages in length.  The finished work will be available for review on May 1.  
 
Here and Now faces the question of God head on, and offers an alternative to non-existent heaven.  Knowing we have an expiration date, how do we live in the here and now?  The illustrations help readers absorb the challenging content.
 
May I send you the first 25 pages?  You could take a look and let us know if you'd like to review the book in full.
 
Thank you for your consideration!
 
Jeff Stilwell

Thanks for your story, Richard. I agree with Daniel, your story would make a book. I'll keep reading this interesting blog and I've learned a lot already hearing it from you personally.

I have a question:  You said you had a "very real" born again experience. 

What do you mean by that? 

What was your experience of God as a Christian?  Did you have a "sense of presence" as one has when sensing someone they can't see? 

Or did you infer God from a very intense emotional experience - rather than something you directly sensed?

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