Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Meet a Member: Pentecostal preacher became an atheist

Vol. 38 No. 06 August 2021
Sam Whitehead                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Name: Sam Whitehead.

Where I live: Marietta, Ga.

Where and when I was born: A farmhouse in Grant, Ala., in 1950.

Family: My lovely wife Vicki, and Miles, a miniature schnauzer. No children, but I have two younger brothers and several nephews and nieces.

Education: Bachelor’s and master’s business degrees with emphasis on personnel management and finance from Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Occupation: Retired from a 44-year career with one of the largest petroleum transportation companies in the world. Mostly worked in human resources management and public affairs. 

How I got where I am today: Hard work and perseverance. I had to pay my own way through college and went from the mailroom to ever-increasing responsibilities during my career.

Where I’m headed: An enjoyable retirement with travel, playing music with my friends and spending time with friends and family.

Person in history I admire and why: Bob Dylan. He is the musical artist I wish I had been. As a teen in the 1960s, I aspired to be a singer/songwriter like the members of the Beatles.  My friends and I wrote songs and dreamt of fame and fortune.  It was in the 1970s that I became a Dylan fanatic. His body of work is astounding and I have seen him numerous times in concert.

A quotation I like: “This above all: To thine own self be true.” — William Shakespeare.

Things I like: Music, cars, motorcycles, dogs, “Gunsmoke.” 

Things I smite: Religious privilege, people who expect the government to take care of them. 

My doubts about religion started: As a child, but really took off at age 22, when I set out to prove to myself that God was real.

Before I die: I hope to see another Bob Dylan concert and that he invites me to the stage for a duet on “Blowin’ in the Wind.”  

Ways I promote freethought: I support my local Freethought Society and attend the meetings. I am also quick to point out, whenever the opportunity arises, that America is NOT a Christian nation. I also published a book (The Truth Shall Make You Free: How an All-American, Southern Boy and Preacher Became an Atheist) in 2020 about my 40-year quest of research and reflection to prove my faith was the one true religion and that God was real. I reluctantly came to the conclusion that there is no god and that no religion is true. 

I wish you’d have asked me: What is one of my favorite songs? “Let it Be” by the Beatles. “When I find myself in times of trouble . . .”