Dr. Bonnie Cleaveland (she/her) grew up nonreligious but without the “atheist” label most of her life. Although she grew up with an activist mindset, a children’s rights issue in 2012 got her really fired up, and she hasn’t stopped organizing, educating and activating since!
In 2014, she joined Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry in the “Holy City,” Charleston SC, in the heart of the Bible Belt, and quickly volunteered for its board. She began self-identifying as “atheist” on the first Openly Secular Day in 2015. Dr. Cleaveland served as advisor to the student forum for school board candidates, co-organized the March for Science Charleston, participated in a particularly vivid protest against caging children at the southern border, and co-created a visually stunning racial justice protest after George Floyd’s death. Since 2016, she’s started to consider herself a protest artist, painting re-usable signs for herself and others to help keep protests environmentally friendly.
Alarmed in the past five years about rising Christian Nationalism, she has turned her attention to defending Americans’ rights to practice religion freely – or not.
She’s a psychologist in private practice who currently serves on Charleston’s inaugural Human Affairs & Racial Reconciliation Commission and the Charleston County School District’s Health Advisory Committee, which evaluates sex education curriculum for the district.
Dr. Cleaveland is a vegetarian who loves gardening. She lives with her husband, two cats, five chickens and a teenager.