A Good Activist Has Died

I didn’t know the man, but a good atheist activist from Anderson, South Carolina has died:

Michael Deanhardt in 2009 (Ken Ruinard – Independent Mail)

For years, Michael Deanhardt was called the most prayed-for man in Anderson.

A staunch activist who disavowed organized religion, he took on the school boards, the city council and the county leaders in Anderson asking them to stop the prayers that open all their meetings.

… for more than 40 years, Deanhardt never yielded his belief that many people hid behind religion to advance agendas of bigotry and repression.

As his health failed at the Rainey Hospice House, some people urged him to give his heart to God. He quipped that it was not his heart, but his liver, that needed the help.

Deanhardt died Wednesday. He was 76.

The obituary tells the story of a person who fought for desegregation (even leaving church because of institutional racism), helped escort women at a local abortion clinic, and wore his atheism on his sleeve despite the pressure from his wife and children to believe in God.

In his memory, please consider making a donation to Hospice of the Upstate or the Anderson Free Clinic.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • nkendall

    A toast to an honest man!

  • Marco Conti

    I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • Joel Lim


  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.zamecki.7 Joe Zamecki

    Sounds like he was a valuable part of our movement. It’s sad that I never heard of him. We need to celebrate our grassroots activists more often. I’ll raise a cold beer now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DocMonkey Mick Wright

    This guy sounds like an absolute boss.

  • Tobias27

    Michael Deanhardt was a big, fat stud of an atheist. Living in this area, I can tell you that this guy never once wavered in his stance for atheism, equality, or honesty as he saw them. He has been calling it like he saw it for a long time and at plenty of cost to himself. He sometimes came across as ornery for his unwillingness to soften the truth, be he was a kind and considerate man. His fights were almost all local, so many of you have never heard of him, but I promise you that he would make you proud to be associated with him.