U.S. Rep. McDermott Added to Speakers' Roster
The Freedom From Religion Foundation's Pacific Northwest "Mini-Convention" meets on the weekend of Friday, July 9, and Saturday July 10, at the Red Lion Hotel on Fifth Avenue in downtown Seattle.
For the first time, a Foundation function will be addressed by a member of Congress. U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, who represents the Seattle area, was one of seven in the House to vote against a March 2003 House resolution condemning the 9th Circuit's decision against "under God" in the pledge.
McDermott made headlines when he omitted the words "under God" in leading the House in its daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance on April 27. McDermott was immediately attacked by Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, for "embarrassing the House." McDermott told the Seattle Times, Washington bureau: "That's how I've always said it. I make my pledge to my country and that's the end of it." McDermott will speak briefly about separation of church and state and take questions on Saturday afternoon.
The convention opens Friday night with check-in and a social hour starting at 6:30 p.m., followed by entertainment, and a complimentary dessert reception. Foundation musician Dan Barker and Pulitzer Prize-winning daily editorial cartoonist Steve Benson, by popular request, will perform their inimitable "Tunes 'n 'Toons" program merging irreverent topical music and cartoons about religion in the news. Don't miss a chance to enjoy this crowd-pleasing performance!
A day of interesting speakers follows on Saturday, concluding with a banquet dinner and a preview of comedian Julia Sweeney's new one-woman show, "Letting Go of God." Sweeney will be formally debuting "Letting Go of God" in the fall and will preview her full show for conference-goers. Sweeney is also writing a book with the same title. The talented comedian is a "Saturday Night Live" alumna, known for creating the unforgettable "Adrogynous Pat." Sweeney's previous shows include "God Said, 'Ha!' " and "In the Family Way." She has appeared in the movies "It's Pat," "Pulp Fiction," "Clockstoppers" and "Stuart Little," among others.
Other Saturday speakers include popular Seattle DJ host Mike Webb, an open agnostic, "Young Activist" award recipient Jesse Card, 20, a plaintiff in a Ten Commandments challenge in Washington, and freethought activist Matthew Barry, who will speak on "No One Complained About This Before! Why Protest Is a Good Thing."
Dan Barker will perform a concert at the piano, including songs from his new CD, "Beware of Dogma." Introduced and honored will be longtime activist Clara Carlson, 97, of Washington.
An optional Saturday banquet dinner ($50) is offered. Convention registration is $45 per Foundation member, $50 for companion or spouse accompanying member, and $70 per nonmember. Students may register for $25. For more information and to print out a registration form, go to FFRF Events.
Please reserve your own hotel room by July 2, 2004. (The cut-off has been extended while rooms are available, but to avoid disappointment, reserve as soon as possible.) Phone the Red Lion Hotel at 206/971-8008 or 206/971-8000, and indicate you are attending the Freedom From Religion Foundation convention to receive the convention rate of $129.00 single or double plus tax, $139.00 triple, and $149.00 quad.
To preregister, mail your registration and payment so it will be received by FFRF by Fri., July 2. Registrations will be taken at the door for an additional $5 late fee, but no meals can be purchased at the door. For questions or to sign up by telephone and credit card, phone FFRF at 608/256-8900 9-5 CST, no later than Monday, July 2.
Schedule and timing are subject to modification. Registrants will be sent complete schedule and details. You will find information at: FFRF Events
See you in Seattle!