Todd Stiefel is not a familiar name to most. And, to some who do know it, his name may be a curse word. He is the major supporter of groups that are involved in atheism.
“What I am trying to accomplish is multifold, he told CNN. “I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement, just like women’s rights, LGBT rights and African-American Civil Rights. We are still in the early stages of eliminating discrimination against atheists and humanists. That is something I really want to accomplish.”
He is the founder of the “Stiefel Freethought Foundation”. If you go to their website, this is what you will see.
“Todd Stiefel lives in Raleigh, NC. He is a secular humanist, an atheist and full-time freethought activist. Todd serves as an advisor to many of the top nontheistic organziations. He has given over $3.5 million dollars to charities in the Freethought Movement. This is highlighted by $2.5 million to found the Stiefel Freethought Foundation.
Todd graduated cum laude from Duke University. He worked 12 years for Stiefel Laboratories, holding positions in marketing, sales operations and strategy. During his tenure, the company’s revenues quadrupled. He was the Chief Strategy Officer, the Enterprise Leadership Team chairman and member of the executive committee of the Board. He was responsible for 250 people including the finance, strategy, risk, facilities, administration and program management functions. He co-led the teams that sold equity to Blackstone and Stiefel Laboratories to GlaxoSmithKline.
Todd’s activism was featured in The Blaze, AlterNet and a front page article in the Raleigh News & Observer. He has been seen on the Christian Broadcasting Network, heard on NPR, and has been quoted in the New York Times, Salon and Church & State. He is a Humanist Celebrant and the co-host of The Humanist Hour podcast. He is the International Team Captain for the Foundation Beyond Belief Light The Night team effort unite the freethought movement behind raising money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He plays rhythm guitar for the humanist band Words Such As Burn.”
Stiefel was raised a Catholic in Albany, New York. He regularly attended Church, and went to Catholic High School. “I was a cross-wearing, praying, religious-retreat Catholic,” Stiefel said. “You could say there were points that I felt the spirit.”
It was in high school that he began to have doubts. He says he “asked a lot of questions”.
Stiefel attended Duke University at age 18. To fill an elective he enrolled in a class called Old Testament history in the Duke School of Divinity.
He began to see flaws in the biblical stories. Many of the stories also appeared in pagan tradition. Stiefel says he asked himself if he really believed in the bible, or if it was simply an accumulation of myths.
Today, one of Stiefel’s monetary recipients is the “Reason Rally”, held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the last three years. Last year’s rally was attended by thousands in spite of the rainy weather.
In his speech to the crowd, Stiefel talked about what he sees as the most important problem facing atheism: “Discrimination comes from ignorance, and in this case it is ignorance about our beliefs,” he said. “We are told freethinkers believe in nothing, but that’s a misunderstanding. We believe in a lot of things; we don’t all believe the same things.”
His message is simple, everyone should be allowed to believe, or not to believe in any cause. He does not criticize organized religion, he sees it as both good and bad, depending on whether it is a belief, or used as a weapon.
Most Americans are unaware that atheism has numerous organizations and is growing in numbers. But the one message you will never hear from them is that you should follow their beliefs. Free thought doesn’t allow it.
Columnist-The Guardian Express