By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
After his conversion, the then-single Morgan, decided to start exclusively pursuing Christian women. So when a cute junior-high-school teacher asked him to teach a lesson on creationism to her class, Morgan instantly agreed, despite being "scared to death" of public speaking. He never got a date with her, but the experience hooked him on teaching creationism. "I then began calling churches out of the Yellow Pages," he says, "offering a free 'Creation vs. Evolution' lesson, and things grew from there."
It wasn't a smooth beginning. Morgan's first creationism lessons had him speaking too quickly out of nerves, and he had volunteers help him to read his comics. Eventually, as he started giving more lessons, Morgan invested in looking more professional. "I made overheads and bought an overhead projector . . . now it's PowerPoint."
Morgan's willingness to speak wherever he's asked—and to do it for free—helped his influence snowball. Every time he spoke to a new Christian group, someone from the audience representing another group requested he speak to them. His speaking schedule is now self-sustaining—no more fingering through the Yellow Pages. And wherever he goes, he gets email addresses for his Creation vs. Evolution Newsletter, which now reaches about 4,500 people, from Sunday-school teachers to important church bureaucrats.
Al Siebert, executive director of Southern California Youth for Christ, says his organization always asks Morgan to speak at its annual student-leadership conference, which is usually attended by 1,500. "Bill's a popular seminar leader," says Siebert. "He'll speak three times at each conference and always fill up the room. People will be sitting on the floor to hear him speak." Siebert says that because of Morgan's ability to connect with youth—"he really speaks their language"—Youth for Christ often recommends him as a speaker at Christian clubs on college campuses.
"He's not some celebrity," Siebert adds, who sought out Morgan after hearing about him from a youth pastor in the area, "but he's very well-known and respected on a grassroots level, especially in Southern California."
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When Morgan appeared on the nationally syndicated radio program Coast to Coast AM, he told a story about the most dangerous encounter he has had while spreading creationism. He was handing out creationist literature to students at Pacifica High School. A veteran at "witnessing," Morgan knew what he was doing. He wasn't blocking anyone's access; he was across the street on public property, and, Morgan claims, he politely gave the literature to students who were willing to take it.
"And then this teacher came running out, with his eyes bulging. He said, 'You have stop this! It's against the law,'" Morgan told show host George Noory.
Morgan asked which law was being broken. He then explained that no California, municipal, or federal laws prohibited him from handing out literature.
"And so [the teacher] said, 'Well, if you don't stop, I'm going to kick your you-know-what!'"
The teacher eventually backed down, realizing that Morgan was in the right—legally speaking.
For Morgan, it's not just about preaching to the choir. He doesn't eschew the chaos; he thrives from it. When members of the blog forum the Good Atheist heard that he would be speaking at a local high school, they wrote suggestions about how to deal with Morgan, whom the site's founder referred to as an uneducated "clown." They summarized his arguments in one sentence: "I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, so God did it." He also appeared on an atheist podcast, The Rational Response Squad Radio Show, on which the hosts took specific passages from Morgan's literature and attacked him. The discussion devolved from there, with the hosts mocking his answers and Morgan trying to keep his cool under assault. He later described the incident as an ambush, not a debate; he didn't agree to return.
Morgan seems to enjoy debating the most when his opponent is highly educated. He once flew at his own expense to New York to debate Dr. Walter Jahn, a biology professor at the State University of New York, Orange. "We had two debates and had a nice lunch together in between the debates," Morgan says.
He prefers to debate the scientific aspects of evolution and creation, but he's willing to debate anyone—including Orange County's resident atheist bomb-thrower, Bruce Gleason. In fact, Morgan was set to debate Gleason at his church in Garden Grove, but when Morgan's pastor found out that Gleason's intention was to "assassinate the character of God," he cooled to the idea and canceled the debate.
Both Gleason and Morgan were bummed and say they hope to find another venue for debate in the future.
"I've been to a Backyard Skeptic meeting. I like Bruce," Morgan says. He then explains why everything Gleason believes is wrong and motivated by less-than-glamorous intentions; Gleason says, with characteristic self-confidence, that Morgan is "a good guy" who would have been "blown away" by his anti-religious presentation. He then compares creationism to 9/11 conspiracies.
But the Pacifica High encounter colors Morgan's creationist zeal and betrays whom he feels is the Truth's biggest enemy: public education. His wife, a former teacher, home-schools their children because they "oppose a lot of the philosophies in the schools," adding that his wife likes "to incorporate God's place in history, literature and science. . . . The schools are either silent or hostile to God. We believe knowing God is part of being educated. God or no God is the most important issue in life and should be investigated and a part of education."