A sad announcement from Ed Brayton

Ed Brayton and I had some contentious disagreements back in the day, but we managed to put all that behind us and set up the Freethoughtblogs network with a mutual understanding that we needed something beyond the atheist movement, some kind of organization that would support diversity and social justice and not just tearing down religion. He named the network — we agreed that we didn’t want “atheist” anywhere in our label, even if we were effectively an atheist group, because even then the word was getting tainted — and he and I together made the initial investment in the site. We owe a lot to Ed.

Unfortunately, he’s also suffered from serious health problems over the years, and left the network he built to run a blog on Patheos. This was an amicable decision with zero drama behind the scenes or in front of it — he just decided that he couldn’t cope with the day-to-day chores of management, and just wanted a space where he could write with no pressure.

His health has worsened. He’s been in and out of hospitals for a while. People have been asking me how he’s doing, since his postings have become intermittent, and I don’t know either! Unfortunately, he just posted this to Facebook:

I’m giving up and calling in hospice. I just can’t do this anymore. To those who know me in real life I love you and I’m sorry. I did my best.

He always has done his best, and he will be missed.


  1. carter says

    Oh no. Since I’ve never had a Facebook account, I’m thankful you posted this. Your blogs are/were the top two I visited every morning, and I’ve been worried about Mr. Brayton’s health since he stopped writing a short while ago. I donated each time he asked for help with his health expenses. His has been a knowledgeable, measured and passionate voice about matters legal and social. I will miss him, and I hope hospice will ease his journey.

  2. says

    I do follow his blog, and I have noticed both his health issues (when he chooses to write about them) and the ever more frequent times when multiple days have passed between his posts.

    I’ve been concerned, and I very much appreciate you letting us know, PZ. Thank you.

    Ed, if you’re reading this, you made my life richer and I appreciated your thoughts many, many times. I hope for the best for you and the people who love you in these last weeks.

  3. KG says

    I’m very sorry to hear that. I haven’t followed his blog for a while, but that’s a result of increasing annoyance with Patheos. I second Crip Dyke@2.

  4. says

    Ed Brayton’s “Dispatches” has been the first thing I looked at each day for the past ten or fifteen years. (I actually found it through reading “Pharyngula,” though I don’t recall the specific issue that led to the cross-reference.) I even put up with the annoyances of Patheos to read it. On one or two occasions he has pointed people to my own efforts in running down fake quotations. For me at least he has been a voice of measured sanity in an increasingly chaotic and idiotic world, and I will miss his presence. I also second Crip Dyke@2.

  5. gardengnome says

    Very saddened to hear. I’ve been following Ed for years now and his blog has always been one of those I would open first each morning. I’ll miss him.

  6. Artor says

    Ed has occasionally stopped posting, and it always made me worry about his well-being. This latest pause has been dragging on, and I feared the worst. I hope his last days are comfortable, and in the company of friends. His intelligent commentary will be missed.

  7. raven says

    Ed and Dispatches have been one of my favorite blogs since the Sciblogs era, many years ago.
    Ed has a good eye for the ridiculous and comic among the christofascists.
    He isn’t replaceable.
    He will be missed.

  8. Mobius says

    I have followed Ed’s posts daily and had noticed he had not posted for 2 or 3 weeks. I was worried about his health and am deeply saddened by this announcement.

    Ed, if you read this, I have enjoyed your posts for years. You were my main new of what was going on with SCOTUS. I will miss you.

  9. says

    My condolences. Dispatches has been a regular stop of mine since 2010. I’d feared the worst since his posting slowed down dramatically these last few months.

  10. azalin34 says

    Oh no. I’ve been reading Dispatches and Pharyngula almost every day for about 15 years now. You could always tell when health issues cropped up for Ed, because his posts would stop. I’ve been checking daily for the last couple of weeks at his site, hoping for an update on his health.
    Ed, if you read this, thanks for all your writing over the years. It helped me become the godless atheist I am today.

  11. Alverant says

    Thanks for posting the update. Word got back to his blog this morning. I’m not sure what to say that hasn’t already been said. He will be hard to replace and has made the Atheist/Freethought community better.

  12. whheydt says

    Much as I’m sorry for this news, I can’t say that I’m particularly surprised.

  13. garnetstar says

    I too have read everything Ed’s written for years, and his contributions have been immeasurable. I wish him comfort and peace, and the knowledge that he made the world a better place, and that his humanist goals will be pursued by those whose ideas he helped to shape.

  14. says

    Oh, no. I had few direct interactions with him, but he was always a presence of integrity. My sincerest condolences for his friends and loved ones.

  15. says

    This really sucks.
    Ed if you’re reading this you’ve had a big impact on me for decades. You helped change things. There’s always more to do, but I hope you feel like you’ve had an effect on people.

    2020 can fuck off.

  16. says

    That’s terrible news.

    Crip Dyke @ #2:

    Ed, if you’re reading this, you made my life richer and I appreciated your thoughts many, many times. I hope for the best for you and the people who love you in these last weeks.

    From me as well.

  17. billseymour says

    Another regular follower of Dispatches from the Culture Wars here. I will miss the wisdom, wit, and exceptional writing very much.

  18. Jemolk says

    Oh no. Ed… We’ll miss you. Thanks for everything.

    I second the sentiment about 2020. COVID’s been bad, and now a bunch of people I respect are gone, or soon to be. John Lewis, Michael Brooks, and now Ed Brayton. I just hope with this trend, Justice Ginsburg doesn’t follow.

  19. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Another regular reader and occasional commenter on Dispatches. I will miss you Ed.

  20. says

    I haven’t been on Ed’s blog, with a couple of notable exceptions when for some reason my being banned seemed to be suspended–it never lasted long.

    I disagreed with Ed on some things but not that many and I do miss the back and forth that goes on over there.

    I am sorry to hear that Ed is suffering. I wish him a peaceful exit, unless he somehow finds another reserve of the energies and ambition to continue. Whatever decision he makes, whatever course he follows, I wish him only peace.

  21. says

    I should add that Ed’s atheism–when I first encountered it, seemed rather, “In your face”. Then I got a load of the Haterz4JEEZUZ and, now, sadly, Ed’s stance seems nuanced, almost quaint.

  22. rorschach says

    Kris Wager made me aware of this today, and while I don’t know Ed’s health problems in detail, I did follow his blog back when we all did, and I am very saddened to learn about this. All the best Ed.

  23. bionichips says

    Ed did more than his best – he succeeded in ways that few have. A voice of reason and sanity. He will be missed as there are few like him.

  24. cheezeboy333 says

    This is sad news. If you are reading this Ed, thank you for all your wit and wisdom. Thanks for the posts on “SouthPaw” drummers and NCAA brackets, as well as personally explaining the FISA court to me.
    [And PZ, thank you for updating us. Yours and Eds’ blogs are wonderful places on the net – continue with the fine work.]

  25. wsierichs says

    I started to fear the worst because of the long gap since his last posting. I’ve read him for years with a lot of respect for his knowledge and intelligent commentaries. I’m very sorry to hear this and hope for the best for him, whatever that is.

  26. Doc Bill says

    I have known Ed for 15 years and met him in 2008 when he visited Austin with the Texas Freedom Network, at a BBQ place, of course! Ed was a consummate BBQ expert and we all enjoyed his descriptions of brisket, ribs, pork shoulder, sausage and the other stuff he cooked with loving care and relish.

    Ed is one of the most knowledgable, erudite, articulate people I have ever known and his compass has always been true north. His philosophy firm and sound. I will mourn his passing as a loss to the human species.

  27. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Our graduate secretary had a sign on her desk: “Everyone who passes this way brings joy–some by coming, some by leaving.” A measure of the joy Ed brought can be found in the deep sorrow his leaving brings.

    The only immortality there that exists is that portion of us that lives on in others when we pass. Ed’s wit and wisdom and humanity live on in all those he touched. Ed, if you are reading this, may you find peace. Make ’em give you the good drugs. You’ve earned them.

  28. davidc1 says

    @37 Just been over here ,guess what some RNJ is advising him to find god before it is too late .

  29. cloneboy says

    Damn, as if 2020 couldn’t suck any more. Dispatches and Pharyngula were my first stops in the morning, to get informed about the world. I am a better person because of what I learned through Ed, and I will miss his charm and humour in this dark world. I just want to thank him for everything I learned, and i hope he knows what an impact he had on so many people around the world. Farewell, Mr Brayton, it has been a privilege to share your world.

  30. Hj Hornbeck says

    Ah, shit. I was never a regular reader of Dispatches, but I’ve followed his work well enough to both see the passion he brought to atheist activism, as well as the slow decline in health. Add me to the growing chorus of people who appreciated his work and will miss him when he’s gone.

  31. magistramarla says

    I too, will miss Ed Brayton. I had the privilege of meeting him once when he spoke to our Freethoughts group in San Antonio. I think that I made quite the impression on him when I asked him to comment upon one name. He was surprised when I said “Modus Operandi”. I’m sure that most of you who have been readers of Dispatches will recognize the name of that commenter.
    It certainly gave Ed a chuckle, and confused several of our friends.
    Ed certainly had an influence on me, and I will miss him.