In Memory of Ed Brayton


Ed Brayton speaking at the CFI Leadership Conference in 2012 – Amherst, NY

A Virtual Memorial Service for Ed Brayton will be held Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 6 pm EDT.

We ask that everyone RSVP in advance to ensure we have enough capacity in our Zoom Meeting, so that all who are interested can attend.


Ed has requested that donations in his memory be made to CFI Michigan.


About Ed Brayton

On August 10, 2020, Ed Brayton wrote the final post on his Dispatches from the Culture Wars blog, titled “Saying Goodbye for the Last Time” to inform his readers that he had decided, as he put it, “to end my battle to the death with death” choosing to enter hospice care after a multi-year fight with debilitating health issues. Three days later, in the early hours of August 13, 2020, Ed slipped peacefully into that abyss. He was fifty-two.

Ed Brayton lived in Grand Rapids, MI, and was very active with the CFI Michigan branch. Ed’s first introduction to CFI (then the Freethought Association of West Michigan) was to speak on the pivotal ruling in the Dover Trial, which he helped to publicize on his blog. Ed soon became a regular both attending and speaking at CFI events, and later joined the CFI MI Advisory Board in 2012. He played a pivotal role in our state advocacy work, including helping to organize our Annual Civics Day and lobbying events in Lansing. He also assisted with our educational programming, booking speakers, and presenting his annual Supreme Court Review. He was renowned for his delicious BBQ that featured prominently at our annual Secular Summer Retreats.

He was probably best known to the broader Center for Inquiry (CFI) family as the co-plaintiff in CFI’s 2018 lawsuit challenging Michigan’s marriage laws as unconstitutional, which was settled in April of this year.

Brayton spent several years touring as a comedian, but soon “tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates” and turned his efforts to writing with his Dispatches from the Culture Wars blog, and as the State Editor of The Michigan Messenger, an independent news outlet.

He was a staunch defender of separation of church and state, and fought to protect the teaching of evolution in science education as a co-founder of Michigan Citizens for Science. He was awarded the “Friend of Darwin” Award by the National Center for Science Education, for his work publicizing the Dover Trial. He soon became a leader in the secular blogosphere and created Freethought Blogs, a popular humanist blog network, and also cofounded The Panda’s Thumb, a blog defending evolution. At the time of his death, his blog was hosted on the Patheos network. He was also active with the Foundation Beyond Belief and was the key organizer of their first and only conference “Humanism at Work” in 2014.

“Ed told me on many occasions, that he was never ‘a joiner’ but he was incredibly grateful that he found a home in the CFI Michigan community. Ed was a central figure in our secular family for the past decade. He has touched countless lives and worked tirelessly to make the world a better place. His knowledge, compassion, and wit, will be dearly missed.”– Jennifer Beahan, CFI MI Executive Director.

In closing we will let Ed speak for himself: “Don’t be sad about this, be hopeful. I got to make the decision myself, that means the world to me. I maintained my self-determination until the end. You made my life better, richer and more fulfilled and who could ask for more? Goodbye, one and all. I will miss you as I hope you will miss me. Be good to each other along this incredible journey.”

Ed has requested that donations in his memory be made to CFI Michigan.


Contribute to the Memorial Service

We invite you to be a part of Ed’s Memorial Service by submitting a written remembrance, photo, or video to be shown during the service. These can be submitted via google form in the link below.

Submissions must be received by Friday, September 18 at Midnight.


Submission Form Requires Google Login. Please use form if possible. If necessary, submissions may be emailed to Jennifer Beahan.

We have also setup a special Zoom meeting that will automatically record and save remembrance videos, to make it easy for anyone who wants to send in a video. See the link below for additional submission details and how to use zoom to submit your video.