Freedom from Religion leader announces retirement

Posted: Friday, October 29, 2004

MADISON, Wis. (AP) The president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation has announced plans to retire from the Madison-based group, known for filing lawsuits that seek strict separation of church and state.

Anne Nicol Gaylor, 77, who helped start the 5,000-member foundation in 1976, told the Wisconsin State Journal she has glaucoma and can no longer handle the burdens of her job.

Gaylor said that when she began ''the word 'atheist' was enough to set the phone ringing,'' but ''the flak has let up over the years. Freethinkers are freer to speak their minds.''

Gaylor's daughter and co-founder, Annie Laurie Gaylor, and her son-in-law Dan Barker will seek to replace her as leaders at the group's convention this weekend.

The convention features controversial Princeton University ethicist Peter Singer; Michael Newdow, who petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to drop ''under God'' from the Pledge of Allegiance, and St. Petersburg Times editorial writer Robyn Blumner.

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