â€śFreedom From Religion in the bible beltâ€ť is the theme of FFRFâ€™s May 2-3 conference in downtown Raleigh, N.C., at the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel, 421 South Salisbury St. In conjunction with the Triangle Freethought Society, FFRFâ€™s active Raleigh-area chapter, the gathering will â€świn hearts and minds for reason and secularism.â€ť
â€˘ Agnostic bible scholar Bart Ehrman, author of â€śDid Jesus Existâ€ť?, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who will talk on â€śWriting about Religion: Some Agnostic Reflectionsâ€ť and receive FFRFâ€™s Emperor Has No Clothes Award, a bronze statuette reserved for public figures who make known their dissent from religion.
â€˘ Founder of Atheist Ireland Michael Nugent, flying in from Dublin, who will speak on the timely topic: â€śYou Have Rights, Your Beliefs Do Not.â€ť
â€˘ Freethought activist Todd Stiefel (the man behind the Reason Rally) and head of Stiefel Freethought Foundation.
â€˘ Recovery from Religion Executive Director Sarah Morehead, who will unveil a new program from Recovery From Religion.
â€˘ Black Nonbelievers President Mandisa Thomas speaking on â€śBlack Nonbelivers: Past, Present & Future.â€ť
â€˘ Stuart Watson, NBC investigative TV reporter exposing megachurch abuses, who will receive a â€śFreethought in the Mediaâ€ť Award.
â€˘ FFRF Co-President Dan Barker will emcee a panel of local former ministers including Randy Bender, Candace Gorham, and Matt Killingsworth). FFRF Co-President and co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor will greet and help emcee, along with Triangle Freethought Society President Harry Shaughnessy and Board Member Sue Kocher.
Southern freethinking student activists include:
â€˘ Sophia Winkler (star of Scott Burdickâ€™s film, â€śSophia Goes to the Good News Clubâ€ť which will air, followed by a student activist award presentation and remarks by the filmmaker)
â€˘ High school activists Ben and Kalei Wilson
â€˘ FFRF student plaintiff Max Nielson challenging graduation and school board prayers Students will all receive $1,000 student activist awards from FFRF.
Entertainment will include a Friday night complimentary dessert reception, The Village Idiots, a meet and greet, a Saturday morning non-prayer breakfast, drawing for â€ścleanâ€ť (pre-â€śIn God We Trustâ€ť godless) currency, and a few songs by â€śSinging Atheistâ€ť Dan Barker.
Although pre-registration is closed there is registration at the door.
CNN is scheduled to cover some of the event for an upcoming documentary on atheism.
The conference opens with complimentary hearty appetizers for registrants and early registration at 4:30 at the Sheraton. The formal conference begins Friday at 7 p.m. and concludes Saturday night, May 3.