By Staks Rosch
December 25, 2009

Atheism is the fastest growing religious preference in America and is on the
rise in every state. While there is no doubt that there is still a long way
to go, 2009 has been a great year for atheism. Who in 2009 has done the most
for the cause of atheism in America?

There are a few names that come to mind as deserving the Atheist of the Year
Award. Some of the names on the list of nominees are to be expected. Other
names are people who have worked largely behind the scenes. There is also a
celebrity or two nominated.

The first nominee is probably the most recognized atheist in the world,
Richard Dawkins. This year Dawkins released his new book, The Greatest Show
on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. As usual, he has also continued to be
a vocal voice for atheism and for science education.

Bill Maher is the second nominee for the atheist of year award. He is
already the recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award for 2009. This year Maher
released his popular and mainstream documentary Religulous which criticizes
religious fundamentalism. He has also talked more about atheism and the
problems with religion on his HBO talk show, Real Time with Bill Maher.

Third up in the nominations is popular atheist blogger PZ Myers. Aside from
being the most popular atheist blogger on the internet, in 2009 Myers led
almost 300 atheists to the Creationist Museum. He continues to deliver
hard-hitting criticism of religion on his blog, Pharyngula

Number four on the list of nominees is Harvard Humanist Chaplin Greg
Epstein. Epstein is the leading advocate of an unofficial movement dubbed
Atheism 3.0. The movement focuses on becoming religious about atheism rather
than being critical of religion. The idea that if you can¹t beat them join
them comes to mind. In 2009, the movement gained prominence within the media
and Epstein also has published his book, Good Without God: What a Billion
Nonreligious People Do Believe.

The Fifth nominee is Margaret Downey, President of the Freethought Society
of Greater Philadelphia. Downey is the founder of the FSGP and in 2009 she
reclaimed her position as President. She also is the brain behind the Tree
of Knowledge Winter Display and in 2009, wrote online guidebook about the
Tree called, Tree of Knowledge: Atheists Celebrate the Winter Season.

Nominee number six is the former director of communications for the American
Humanist Association Fred Edwords. In 2009, Edwords accepted the position of
director of UnitedCoR. As director, Edwords travels to cities around the
nation uniting atheist groups together and helping them to put up
billboards. In 2008, Edwords squared off against Bill O¹Reilly on his own
show. Here is the clip:

YouTube - Humanist-atheist : Why Believe In A God?

The seventh and final nominee for Atheist of the Year 2009 is Hollywood
Actor and Humanitarian Brad Pitt. While Pitt has made no secret of his lack
of belief in deities, in 2009 he became vocal about it. On the NBC Today
Show, he told Anne Curry that he wouldn¹t run or Mayor of New Orleans
because his platform would be ³gay marriage, no religion, legalization and
taxation of marijuana.² He claimed that he would have ³no chance.² He spoke
more about his atheism on Real Time with Bill Maher.



Richard Dawkins
Bill Maher
PZ Myers
Greg Epstein
Margaret Downey
Fred Edwords
Brad Pitt

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