Freethought Luminaries Star at Freedom From Religion Foundation's 25th Annual "Irreverent Conference

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Michael Newdow
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Robert Sapolsky
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Paul D. Boyer
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Taslima Nasrin
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Julia Sweeney
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Philip and Marjorie Appleman
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Blake Trettien
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Dan Barker and Steve Benson

California freethought luminaries will be among the speakers at the Freedom From Religion Foundation's 25th annual convention, meeting at the Westin Horton Plaza Hotel in downtown San Diego the weekend of Nov. 22-24.

Michael Newdow, M.D., of Sacramento, who won the historic lawsuit to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance before the 9th Circuit this summer, will be named "Freethinker of the Year."

Julia Sweeney, an actress and alumna of Saturday Night Live (best known for creating the character "Androgynous Pat") will speak on "Letting Go of God."

Paul D. Boyer, a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry who lives in the Los Angeles area, is a Life Member of the Foundation and will speak on "A Scientist's View of Atheism in America."

Receiving the Foundation's Emperor Has No Clothes Award and statuette, given to public figures who are outspoken nontheists, will be Stanford Prof. Robert Sapolsky, a bestselling science author.

Bangladeshi feminist, physician, author and atheist Taslima Nasrin, who is under a death fatwa by her country's religious leaders, will be awarded a "Freethought Heroine" award.

Blake Trettien, 18, a first-year college student from Maryland, will receive a $1,000 scholarship as his Student Activist Award. Blake initiated a complaint over a Ten Commandments monument on public property in Frederick, Maryland, resulting in an ongoing ACLU lawsuit.

Also receiving an "Emperor Has No Clothes" award is Steve Benson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning daily editorial cartoonist, for his public departure from the Mormon Church at the time his grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson, was president, and for his public promotion of reason and freethought.

Benson will join Dan Barker, a musician and Foundation staff member who is a former ordained minister, in "Tunes 'n 'Toons," a musical comedy-cartoon revue, looking at religion and freethought in the news. The entertainers will perform a freethought version of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," called "God-Less America." Dan will also play Berlin's less well-known but irreverent song, "Pack Up Your Sins and Go to the Devil."

The convention keynoter is poet and Darwin scholar Philip Appleman, who recently completed editing his third edition of Norton's Critical Edition, "Darwin." Appleman, joined by his playwright wife Marjorie Appleman, will speak on "Dancing with Darwin."

The convention will hold its annual NON-Prayer Breakfast, including its nontraditional "Moment of Bedlam," and its popular annual drawing for "clean" currency (pre-"In God We Trust"), with the grand prize being a godless $100 bill.

More than 300 freethinkers from around the country are already registered to attend. Pre-registration is required. For details, contact the Freedom From Religion Foundation, PO Box 750, Madison WI 53703, 608/256-8900, www.ffrf.org. Complete details are online at: http://www.ffrf.org/convention/

Reporters interested in covering the event, or conducting pre-convention interviews, should contact Anne Gaylor at 608/256-8900 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The Freedom From Religion Foundation formed as a national association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) in 1978, and works to keep church and state separate. It has won several recent significant legal victories.

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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