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Meet a Member: FFRF State Reps push for secular Kentucky

Mikel and Ed Hensley active in freethought community

Name: Mikel Hensley

Mikel and Ed Hensley with their daughter Cosima.

Where I live: Louisville.

Where and when I was born: I was born in Louisville in 1980 and grew up to the south of Louisville in Shepherdsville.

Education: Public schools from K–8, then homeschooled grades 9–12. Went to Trevecca Nazarene University for two years before getting out of there and going back home to attend the University of Louisville. Graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems and about 10 years later went to Jefferson Community and Technical College to get an associate’s degree in electrical technology.

Occupation: Electrical technician for a manufacturing organization.

How I got where I am today: One day at a time.

Where I’m headed: I don’t know.

Person in history I admire and why: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for challenging the patriarchy all the way to the Supreme Court.

A quotation I like: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” — Carl Sagan, from “Cosmos.”

Things I like: Walks in the woods, looking at the stars, well done sci-fi shows like “The Expanse” and “Star Trek” and “The Mandalorian,” and spending time with Ed and Cosi.

Things I smite: Frickin’ conspiracy theories and pseudoscience and patriarchy.

My doubts about religion started: There are so many ways I could answer this. But I think one of the more major things was learning the actual history of Christianity while I was attending Trevecca Nazarene University and how the bible was compiled basically by councils of men who voted on what the “true” belief should be, and how the Christian sect that got to determine the “orthodox” views suppressed and demonized those who had different views. It was such a different history than what I was taught in Sunday school.

Learning about the history of the cosmos and about evolution and realizing religious authors I had trusted had given me misinformation about scientific fact also drove a nail into the coffin of my Christian belief.

Ways I promote freethought: I’m a State Representative for FFRF, edit and post the “Blasphemy in the Bluegrass” podcast, manage the website for Kentucky Secular Society, and help with organizing and promoting local events for atheists and freethinkers.

• • •

Name: Ed Hensley

Where I live: Louisville.

Where and when I was born: Dallas.

Family: I am divorced, widowed and married. Wife: Mikel; sons Jody, Scott and Braden; and daughters Taylor and Cosima.

Education: B.S. and M.S. degrees in computer science from Texas A&M University. I was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, but stopped work on my dissertation after my wife became ill and died.

Occupation: Software engineer.

Military service: I served seven years in Germany as a civilian with the Department of Defense.

How I got where I am today: I met my wife at a Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers meeting. Our dates included going to conventions and other events together, such as Jane Goodall or Richard Dawkins events.

Where I’m headed: Retirement from UPS to spend more time with family and more time on activism.

Person in history I admire and why: Charles Darwin and Werner Von Braun for their contributions to biology and space travel.

A quotation I like: “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” Mark Twain, from Following the Equator, Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar.

Things I like: “Star Trek,” “Doctor Who” and other science fiction, national and state parks, travel.

Things I smite: Ark Encounter, violations of church-state separation, most TV sitcoms.

My doubts about religion started: I was brought up as a biblical literalist Southern Baptist in Texas. I left religion slowly from ages 18–24 as I read the bible and studied the early Christian churches and the formulation of the New Testament.

Before I die: I hope the church-state situation in the United States improves.

Ways I promote freethought: I’m a State Representative for FFRF, president of FFRF Kentucky, help organize the Kentucky Freethought Convention, and host the “Blasphemy in the Bluegrass” podcast.