39th Annual National Convention - October 7-9, 2016
Register now for FFRF’s 39th national convention in Pittsburgh
The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s 39th annual convention will be held Oct. 7-9 in Pittsburgh, Pa., one of the top-rated cities in the country.
The national convention, hosted at the Wyndham Grand hotel in downtown Pittsburgh, will include such notable speakers as cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett, award-winning author Susan Jacoby, biology professor Jerry Coyne and theoretical physicist and author Lawrence Krauss, who will receive FFRF’s annual Emperor Has No Clothes Award.
Pittsburgh resident and chair of FFRF’s Executive Board Stephen Hirtle and his wife Kim offer these words on the host city:
Pittsburgh has been garnering national and international attention for its quality of life and unique features. Recent accolades for Pittsburgh:
- Listed as one of the best places in the world to visit (Travel + Leisure).
- Rated as the No. 1 food city in 2015 (Zagat).
- Offers America’s most stunning views (USA Today).
- Listed as the “coolest American city you haven’t been to” (Huffington Post).
Pittsburgh, with a population slightly more than 300,000, is also known for having more bridges than any city in the world, including Venice. The three main rivers — Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio — join downtown at Point State Park. Two inclines (funicular railways) dating back to the late 1800s take tourists and commuters up the side of Mount Washington, just as they did when steel was the main industry. The Gateway Clipper Fleet offers river-based sightseeing tours, including views of the Steelers’ Heinz Field and the Pirates’ PNC Park.
Downtown Pittsburgh, where the FFRF convention will be held, is known for its striking and varied architecture, notable restaurants and cultural amenities. The Andy Warhol Museum (named for a Pittsburgh native) and the Carnegie Science Center are just across the river on the North Shore. The Carnegie Natural History and Carnegie Art Museums are housed together, a short taxi or bus ride away, in the Oakland neighborhood, which is also home to Phipps Conservatory and two world class institutions: the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University. Pitt’s main building — the Cathedral of Learning — was not named for religious reasons, but for its Gothic design and grand Commons Room with vaulted ceilings. Noted Caltech physicist Sean Carroll claims “the Cathedral of Learning is pretty much the perfect building” due to its striking architecture, which includes the 30 Nationality Classrooms designed to reflect the culture and history of the diverse immigrant groups of Pittsburgh.
(The following speakers will be signing copies of their books during the convention.)
Jerry A. Coyne, professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, has written 119 scientific papers and 150 popular articles, book reviews, and columns, and a trade book about the evidence for evolution—Why Evolution is True, which was a New York Times bestseller. His second book, Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible was published in May 2015. Coyne plans to speak on the topic of "Evolution and Atheism: Best Friends Forever." He previously was honored with FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award.
Daniel Dennett, one of the so-called “Four Horsemen of New Atheism,” is co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, is the author of many books, including Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. Dennett said the title of his speech will be, “Has the dam broken? Omens and worries.”
Susan Jacoby is the author of 11 books, most recently, Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion, which will come out in March. Her articles have appeared frequently in the op-ed pages of The New York Times, including one in February, “Sick and Tired of ‘God Bless America.’”
Jacoby is a previous recipient of FFRF’s Freethought Heroine Award.
Lawrence Krauss is an internationally known theoretical physicist and author and is director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University and Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Physics Department at ASU. He has won numerous international awards for both his research and his efforts to improve the public understanding of science, he is the only physicist to have received the top awards from all three US Physics Societies, and is also the author of nine books including bestsellers The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing. Krauss starred in a feature-length documentary called “The Unbelievers,” which followed Krauss and Richard Dawkins around the world as they discussed science and reason.
He recently wrote an op-ed for The New Yorker, “Put an atheist on the Supreme Court,” and will receive the Emperor Has No Clothes Award from FFRF at the convention.
Lauri Lebo is an author, radio station owner and former reporter from Harrisburg, Pa., where she was the principal local reporter covering the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in 2004-05 while working for the York Daily Record. She was featured prominently in the Nova documentary Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, both because of her coverage and because her father, who owned Christian radio station WWII-AM in Harrisburg, sided with the Dover school board in the controversy. After more than 20 years as a journalist, she left reporting to write The Devil in Dover, a book about the Kitzmiller trial and its effects on Dover.
Marie Schaub is the only named plaintiff in an ongoing case near Pittsburgh. She joined FFRF in 2012 to ask the New Kensington-Arnold School District to remove a 6-foot-tall granite monument depicting a copy of the 10 Commandments that is prominently displayed in front of the public high school her child was scheduled to attend.
For more information on convention specifics, click on these links.