Foxhole atheist Justin Griffith’s first speech

Foxhole atheist Justin Griffith’s first speech January 10, 2012

Last year I was invited to speak at several national conferences, but could not attend a single one because I was deployed. I gave this speech in Fort Lauderdale Florida last month, at the FLASH / American Atheists regional meetup. It was my first official public speaking engagement.

I had to follow a pretty awesome talk from my boss, Dave Silverman. To my relief, there was plenty of applause and laughter in all the right places.

A fellow foxhole atheist – whom I had not previously met – recorded this and I really appreciate all of his hard work here. I know it’s long, but please give it a shot – and let me know what you thought.

Unless you live in Dallas. Because I’ll be speaking to the Fellowship of Freethought in Dallas on Sunday, January 15th – no spoilers!


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  • I watched the whole speech, and overall, I thought it was pretty good. Especially for your first time. You were obviously nervous at the beginning, but it fell off as you spoke. You stopped stumbling on your words as much and there were less “ums and ahhs” in there.

    My criticism about your talk is based only on the direction of it. Sometimes it was an ad for Rock Beyond Belief, and sometimes it was “this is how we fixed the army a bit”. It was almost like reading your blog. Now, that’s cool, and it’s interesting. A history of Justin Griffiths in the atheist movement, and that’s important.

    But you should also try to have a target for your speeches as well. If you’re going to talk about the army, talk about the army, stuff around it, etc, and try to leave out some of the more random stuff. I think with a little more focus you could definitely hop your talk up a notch.

  • Justin Griffith

    Thanks! Haha, that’s a good observation about it being like my blog. The few ‘real’ speakers I’ve seen have absolutely focused in on a theme – good call.

    Which subject would you have preferred more in depth: Rock the Fort / Rock Beyond Belief, Spiritual Fitness, (other)?

    I had no notes because I internalized so much information. The slides had very few words (if any), so if I were to give the ‘same speech’ it would come out very different. However, focusing the slides on a particular subject would compensate nicely.

    Our community is so helpful! Thanks for your thoughts.

  • It all depends on the time you have available to you. Obviously you had enough material to fill an hour. What I prefer isn’t so important, but if you’re going to sell yourself as a speaker, you should consider different “modules” that can be put together. I think you should start with what your hits are.

    Look at Jen McCreight and JT Eberhard as other speakers who have very recently burst into the atheist sphere of influence and how they’ve been building their speaking catalogue. You start off with what you’re famous for, and you have two really good ways to go: Spiritual Fitness and Rock Beyond Belief. I bet you could put together two solid half-hour long talks on each. They could then be joined together into an hour long “Army Talk”.

    There’s more specifics and details that you can work into those subjects that would make them fully fleshed out. I bet there’s a good amount of subject matter you could give a talk on for “living your life as an open military atheist” – which I bet is a talk that would go well in bases around the country. Since you’ve set about getting more military atheist organizations set up, that’s one that you could definitely get rolling anywhere.

  • I thought you did well for your first public engagement. As a fellow foxhole atheist I would like to thank you for what you are doing. I think it takes a lot of courage to as you say take the “hard right”. Overall your message was loud and clear, and I could see the passion you have for this cause. The flow of your speeches will get better with time. I hope the momentum for the national movement continues, and you are one of the reasons I can see that happening! I look forward to RBB!

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  • Steve

    Just speaking-wise I think you did great. Some more structure may be great, but you spoke very freely while not coming across as rambling or unorganized.

  • That was awesome, Justin! I watched the whole thing. I think you’re going to develop into a great speaker. While I agree with the others that speeches basically need more structure, don’t ever lose your self in the structure.

    Way to go, that was highly entertaining, educational, and inspiring.

  • Wow. I already assumed that most members of the U.S. Army were Christians, but you just PROVED how deeply rooted Christianity is into our military.

    I am anti-war. So, I don’t know your stance on WHY you wanted to join the army. It seems strange that you were against the oppressing institution of church but join the oppressing and oppressive institution of the military. Of course, once again, I don’t know you’re background well enough to make any type of judgement call on that. Maybe you can elaborate. Do you think the army and war si a good thing?