‘Good times and bum times, I’ve seen’ em all. And, my dear, I’m still here’

Several notable performers have sung I‘m Still Here but to my mind none have vocalised it better than the late, great entertainer and human rights campaigner Eartha Kitt.

Eartha Kitt at 75. She died in 2008 aged 81. Image via YouTube.

It was her version, and other songs of defiance such as Elton John’s I’m Still Standing, that eventually helped me crawl out from under a mountain of despair, depression and fury after I was summarily sacked from my post of editor of The Freethinker at the beginning of 2022.

Kitt’s words in a 1992 interview about rejection suffered by people, especially those in LGBT communities, struck a particularly powerful a chord with me:

We’re all rejected people, we know what it is to be refused, we know what it is to be oppressed, depressed, and then, accused, and I am very much cognizant of that feeling.

Nothing in the world is more painful than rejection. I am a rejected, oppressed person, and so I understand them [gay people], as best as I can, even though I am a heterosexual.

Despair arose from the realisation that, from February 1 2023—which marks my 76th birthday—my income would be halved by more than 50 percent, and that monthly payments from my meagre pensions would not cover my basic living expenses, which rose substantially after Covid.

This prompted me to launch a GoFundMe appeal in a bid to stave off impending penury—and the possible loss of my apartment, the rent for which was twice hiked in 2022.

My heartfelt thanks to those who contributed.

Deception and lies

The fury set in after I learned that Freethinker readers were being deceived over my departure. I discovered that those who queried my disappearance were being told that I had chosen to leave a post I held for almost 25 years to take up a position on a new secular platform called OnlySky.

In a despicable move, the FT board of management went so far as to monkey with my Wikipedia entry, removing mention of my dismissal and replacing it with the words:

Duke left The Freethinker at the beginning of January 2022, but continued to write for a new secular site, OnlySky, which launched in mid-January 2022, although he left the site a few months later.

Setting the record straight regarding OS

The truth is that, in 2020, the board burdened me with the enormous task of transferring The Freethinker from Patheos to OnlySky after it became apparent that Patheos, under new management, no longer wanted aggressively anti-religious content.

When The Freethinker first established a presence on Patheos—moving from a freestanding site—it became an instant hit, and began earning money for the first time since it went solely online.

Image via YouTube

The then head of Patheos Nonreligious, Dale McGowan, above, who is now Chief Content Editor at OS, messaged me to say how amazed he was at how quickly the FT had gained traction.

Your performance is EXCEPTIONAL—very high quality and consistency. It is almost unheard of to have a blog break through 100K views in its first full month! The Freethinker is now #8 in the Nonreligious Channel (out of about 35 active blogs) and #15 on the entire site (out of about 300). This is not at all normal for a new Patheos blog, and I’m just delighted.

When Patheos‘ new owners, BN Media, understood to be owned by the Mormons, signalled its intent to return to its religious roots, McGowan led an exodus of secular contributors—including the famous Friendly Atheist, Hemant Mehta—from Patheos to the newly-formed OS.

My last post on PatheosKnow your mythology before you knock it—appeared on December 8, 2021. And on April 6, 2022, my farewell post appeared on OS.

Given the success of The Freethinker on Patheos, McGowan believed that it would be a valuable addition to the new platform—and so, I was led to believe, did the FT board.

Towards the end of 2020, ahead of the launch of OS, I began the back-breaking task of moving the FT over to OS. This involved having to create almost 100 unique, in-depth features so that, when OS went live, there would be a wealth of material beneath the FT banner.

So, for almost six months I was working insane hours—16 to 18 a day, seven days a week—preparing for the January launch.

As a consequence I suffered a complete mental and physical breakdown in December, 2020, and was totally incapacitated for a month. I dropped a stone in weight that I could ill afford lose, and my marriage came within a hairbreadth of disintegrating.

No additional remuneration was paid for this extra work, and my monthly fee remained static at just over £3.00 an hour.

Then came the bombshell

At some point during the migration process, the FT board decided, for reasons best known to themselves, that it no longer wanted to stand alongside some of the best secular bloggers in the world who clamoured to board OS.

In a period of 11 months OS reached over two million readers, published over 2,400 articles by more than 100 contributors across the US and around the world—and it published 120,000 conversations in its comment sections.

Turning gold into lead

Instead of informing me of its about-turn, the FT board chose to keep me completely in the dark about its intention to set up an nauseating pea-green site, replete with a masthead featuring a badly drawn pig with a human face.

And although the board had decided late in 2020 to send me packing, it did not notify me of their decision until mid-January, 2021! Had I been informed earlier I would have accepted one of two job offers I received in November and December of 2021.

There’s sublime irony in their use of the world “Humanity” in that masthead, don’t you think?

When I broke the news to McGowan of the FT’s decision to abandon OS and sack me, he was as shocked as I, and all the work I had done had to be parked under my name, and not beneath the FT logo.

It quickly became clear that it would take me years as an unknown individual blogger to generate enough traffic to get any meaningful form of income.

When you’re 75 you simply don’t have the luxury time. So I reluctantly quit OS.

Readers’ reactions

Image via Pexels

After I launched my GoFundMe appeaI I was swamped with emails and messages from people venting their fury over the unethical, and frankly brutal manner in which I was discarded.

If I were to reproduce all the horrified reactions I received this piece would run to many thousand of words, so I will stick with just three.

Long-time FT supporter and frequent commenter on the old site, “Broga” wrote:

Barry, like others I am sorry to see you go and I have been around atheism and The Freethinker long enough to see the disastrous effects of you leaving.

An atheist colleague gave me a copy of The Freethinker back in the days when David Tribe was a frequent contributor. I was amazed at what I read as, in those days, aggressive, knowledgeable, factually based and well written criticism of religion was unknown to me. I was an immediate fan of David Tribe and The Freethinker.

The important point I want to make is that you followed in that tradition. And that is important because it meant that atheists had access to a focused, unyielding and hard hitting core. And that core was still within the bounds of acceptable and enjoyable writing.

What you also provided as editor of The Freethinker were brief articles whose object was clear and where the readers could make their responses. I, and I expect others, felt I was part of the magazine in that I could share my views.

This brings me to the new Freethinker which I tried to read for a short time. I found it soft-centred, wandering around various issues and apparently intended as lengthy “sermons” with little role for readers’ responses.

I don’t know why they sacked you or what they thought they would achieve. Their behaviour is a shameful act in view of all you contributed. What I also know, on a personal level, is that the current Freethinker lacks the previous atheist bite and energy, underpinned by facts, that you so admirably provided.

I’m gutted at what has happened and I will miss your writing. Something important has been lost. I can only wish you all possible good luck.

Another long-time supporter, Diesel Balaam, of the UK LGBT+ charity The Pink Triangle Trust added:

True atheists recognise integrity and you have it in spades, Barry. As for The Freethinker, sadly it’s founder and raison d’etre have been cynically betrayed by “woke” opportunists …

Illustration by Shell Fisher. Shell was a regular contributor to FT when I was editor, but when the FT was rebranded he was unceremoniously dumped. We are now reunited, and his work will be a regular feature on The Angry Atheist.

Another, whose name was lost when I was compelled shut down my email account—barry@freethinker.co.uk—commented:

I hope you can find a place to keep writing and not suffer financially.

I tried reading the Freethinker after you left. I didn’t know why you went, but I thought I’d still try to give it a go. I read several posts, but it’s not the Freethinker anymore. I still don’t know why they let you go, but I have no desire to read The Freethinker anymore.

It was messages such as these that led to a steely determination not to be casually disposed of like some beshitted diaper.

Dylan Thomas’s immortal words spring to mind:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Unlike Secular Society Ltd—the FT‘s holding company which is sitting on assets exceeding £600,000 (click on accounts for a small company made up to 31 March 2021) —I haven’t the financial resources to launch anything but this very basic site.

How you can help

Because I only have a rudimentary knowledge of website design, to get this site up and running to its full potential, with all the requisite bells and whistles, I will have to upgrade my WordPress account, and pay a sizeable sum—money I simply don’t have—to enlist the help of a savvy designer to help me take The Angry Atheist to greater levels of sophistication.

This can only be done with your help.

Contributions can also be made via my GoFundMe appeal or by becoming a Buy Me A Coffee supporter for just $5 a month.

Donations will help cover all costs related to running the site and updating it daily with the sort of material that made the old FT site such a cracking success: news, not leaden historic windbaggery.

There will be humour, biting satire and savage attacks aimed at those God-besotted fools who persist in their efforts to impose their idiotic superstitions and the intolerance it breeds into all facets of our increasingly godless lives.

The Angry Atheist will not pander in any way to the weak-kneed, the nervous Nellies, the politically-correct, the snowflakes, the “woke and the lily-livered factions the new FT apparently aims to attract to a site that looks as if were created by a chimpanzee tanked up on palm wine.

Those who approved this monstrosity are long overdue a visit to SpecSavers.

The FT now gets updated around three times a week by its lazy-assed team. Since its launch it has managed to squeeze out just 100 or so posts—mostly feeble screeds running to thousands of words—over a period of 295 days.

In the same period, were I still in situ, I would have posted around 600 short, sharp items, red in tooth and claw!

And there are no words to describe its lamentable choice of illustrations. Below is its cringeworthy year-end “Image of the Week” which has a caption written in dark grey against a black background.

Only by enlarging it by a factor of ten do these words appear:

Season’s Greetings to all our readers. We’ll be back in January 2023.

Christ on a bike! The constipated team took a two-week break in August 2022 and another over the festive period.

When I was editor I never had a break in almost a quarter-of-a-century! The last vacation I took was a fortnight in Spain in 2009—and I still managed to update the site every single day during that time!

To carry on or give up the ghost?

If you think I should carry on with The Angry Atheist please let me know in the comments section below.

But if you think I am on a hiding to nothing; that I have little or no chance of getting the following I had when I edited the FT, please tell me.

If the majority reading this piece believe I should accept my fate and simply slide into obscurity I will simply abandon this project and stagger off into senile future.

Note: The FT‘s board of management were given the opportunity to respond to the piece posted on OS, and another on The Pink Triangle Trust site but declined to do so.

• If you spot any typos in this piece, please email me at freethinkered@aol.com. Use this address to send me links to stories you believe would fit well on this site.

You can support my work in three ways via PayPal, Buy Me a Coffee or GofundMe.

Latest comments

16 responses to “‘Good times and bum times, I’ve seen’ em all. And, my dear, I’m still here’”

  1. Hi Barry

    I miss the old FT with its pithy and very readable articles.

    I wish you well in your new venture and would love to see a return of your excellent editorship.

    At age 80 and living on state pension, I cannot afford to offer more support than £2/month, pity that it cannot be gift-aided!

    Have you considered giving donors the incentive of a stake in the new venture?

    How do I donate in GDP instead of USD?

    With Warmest Wishes


    1. Thanks for your suggestion Malcolm regarding incentives. I will investigate what can be done in this regard. I will also look at ways of changing USD to GDP.


    2. I have managed to change the currency on Buy Me a Coffee (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/freethinker1881) and you can become a supporter by using the link.


      1. Sorry Barry, I can only afford £2/month.



      2. Hi Malcolm I have created a Paypal link that enables you to donate any amount: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=GXTJPVLHGT3G6


  2. Barry – please go on writing and editing with THE ANGRY ATHEIST and I will donate to your GoFundMe

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Barry,
    There isn’t much I can add to the piece I first wrote and which you were kind enough to print above. I hope you will start the Angry Atheist. Like others I miss the old Freethinker under your editorship. It always had bite, backed by good writing and knowledgeable underpinning.

    You have got what it takes, in talent and determination, to make it work. There is another reason to try. You are pushing at an open door. Christianity is a minority religion while still having an influence e.g. in schools and the BBC, far beyond what is justified. There is an acceptance of atheism today that is far beyond what I experienced in my early days reading the Freethinker. We need “The Angry Atheist” and there is a gap that it can fill

    I will contribute £5 a month. Let me know what is the easiest way to do this and I will start right away. I would also like to contribute comments to “The Angry Atheist” as I did to the Freethinker under your editorship.



    1. Welcome back Broga! When the FT decided to rebrand themselves and send me packing they lost a great number of loyal supporters, people whose comments provoked many a lively debate. Your comments in particular were were highly valued. My key objective now is to entice those lost readers back by once again providing a genuine free speech platform. The best way to support me is via Buy Me A Coffee (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/freethinker1881), that allows one to become a member for just £5 a month.


  4. The Freethinker treated you appallingly.


  5. I remember the old printed Freethinker acting as a watchdog on the excesses of religious institutions, and also interesting articles from several strands of opinion, provoking a lively letters page. I feel the new on-line version seldom hits the same heights. For the moment I have sent £10 via Paypal; please keep me posted of developments.


    1. I remember the old printed Freethinker with affection. What is so unacceptable is that the current version has abandoned the values and polemic of the old printed version. The readers have been shut out and seem to have been assigned a passive role of reading the dull tracts.

      With the arrival of The Angry Atheist we can expect something we can once again enjoy.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Your contribution is valued greatly, David. The supportive messages I have been getting here and via email have convinced me that I made the right decision to launch a site that would reignite the spirit of G W Foote and the old FT site.


  6. […] As a result of my sacking last year by The Freethinker, I desperately need support to keep The Angry Atheist going. You can support my […]


  7. […] As a result of my sacking last year by The Freethinker, I desperately need support to keep The Angry Atheist going. You can support my […]


  8. […] As a result of my sacking last year by The Freethinker, I desperately need help to keep The Angry Atheist going. You can support my […]


  9. […] I reported on this story for The Freethinker before it was disastrously rebranded last year, and I was sacked. At the time the FT was getting around 5,000 visitors a day. Now it gets 5,000 A MONTH because […]

    Liked by 1 person

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