Freedom From Religion
38th Annual National Convention Â
Weekend of Oct. 9-11, 2015
Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center
Ron Reagan, the â€śunabashed atheist, not afraid of burning in hellâ€ť who kindly recorded a recent and much-censored TV commercial for FFRF, will keynote its 38th national convention at Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive, Madison, Wis., on the weekend of Oct. 9â€“11, 2015.
The convention center, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is next to Lake Monona and two blocks from Wisconsinâ€™s impressive State Capitol and next door to the convention hotel, the Hilton. (Thereâ€™s a memorial along the lake near the convention center noting that singer Otis Redding and six members of his band died there on Dec. 10, 1967, when their plane plunged into the lakeâ€™s icy waters.) Reserve your hotel room now to avoid disappointment at the Hilton Madison Monona Terrace Hotel, 9 E. Wilson St., room rate $169 single or double, by phoning toll-free 1-866-403- 8838 or 1-608-255-5100. The group name is Freedom From Religion Foundation and the group code is FFRF. Book online at ffrf.org/convention2015 â€” go to the hotel site section, which links directly to reservations. The cutoff is Sept. 7, or as long as rooms last.
For those who are driving in or donâ€™t mind staying away from downtown, there are additional rooms at the Sheraton Madison Hotel, 706 John Nolen Drive, which provides a free shuttle to and from the convention center every half hour from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sheraton rates are $139 single/double/triple/quad. Make your reservations at 1-800-325-3535 and let them know youâ€™re with â€śFreedom From Religion.â€ť
You may wish to arrive Thursday in order to tour the â€śrebornâ€ť Freethought Hall Friday morning, which is 6 short blocks from the convention center. An informal open house will be held from 9â€“11:30 AM. Please indicate if you plan to attend on the registration form, to help ensure FFRF orders enough refreshments. Enjoy rolls, juice, coffee and tea and socializing in the Charlie Brooks Auditorium, top floor, where a short video presentation on the building and FFRF will play. Staff members will be posted throughout the building to greet, answer questions and make sure you donâ€™t get lost! If you ordered a paving stone, look for it in the Rose Zerwick Memorial Garden & Courtyard, or your vestibule tile in the entry. Major donorsâ€™ names will be found in the Wall of Honor and Donor Wall in the Anne Nicol Gaylor Lobby. Every donor will be listed in a book on the reception desk. Due to time and staff constraints, this will be the only time to tour during the convention.
Joining Reagan as confirmed speakers are:
Kevin M. Kruse, the Princeton University professor of history whose new book, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, is creating a lot of excitement. He recently appeared on NPRâ€™s â€śFresh Airâ€ť with Terry Gross, and has authored or co-edited four other books. His White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism (2005), won several prizes.
Dan Barker, FFRF co-president, will also speak about his newest book, Life-Driven Purpose: How an atheist finds meaning, an answer to Rick Warrenâ€™s Purpose-Driven Life, and will autograph books. Dan, a talented pianist and songwriter who has recorded three music CDs for FFRF, will also entertain throughout the conference. Douglas Marshall will receive a Freethinker of the Year Award as the local plaintiff in FFRFâ€™s most recent federal court victory, forcing the town of Warren, Mich., to permit him to put up a Reason Station to counter an ongoing prayer booth that dominates the atrium of his city hall.
Anita Weier will be honored as Freethought Heroine for introducing a historic ordinance to make â€śnonreligionâ€ť a protected class in Madison, Wis. Weier, former city editor for The Capital Times, served as an alderperson for two terms. Her â€śfirst of its kindâ€ť ordinance passed with no dissent on March 31.
Steven Hewett will be honored with FFRFâ€™s Atheist in Foxhole Award. The former police officer and Afghanistan war veteran returned home with a Combat Action Badge and Bronze Star, only to find a Christian flag flying at the Veterans Memorial in King, N.C. In December, following a long court battle taken on his behalf by Americans United, the city agreed to stop flying the Christian flag and to remove a cross from a kneeling soldier statue. Steven is a Lifetime FFRF Member.
FFRF staff attorneys will give a detailed presentation on their major accomplishments in ending state/church entanglements in 2015. Other speakers and honorees will be announced in future issues. You have a chance to receive an expenses-paid trip to the convention.
If you persuade your prayerful local governmental body to let you to give a secular invocation, you can enter FFRFâ€™s Nothing Fails Like Prayer contest (see details at ffrf.org/outreach/nothing-fails-like-prayer). The award includes opening a session of the conference with your secular words and a $500 award, plaque, transportation and accommodations at the convention. FFRF will honor major donors who made possible the expansion of Freethought Hall at Saturdayâ€™s dinner, which will also include the annual drawing for â€śclean moneyâ€ť (pre-â€śIn God We Trustâ€ť).