Outreach & Events - Freedom From Religion Foundation
Conventions

Conventions

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Hotel Site & Amenities

Written by
ExteriorFreedom From Religion
     37th Annual National Convention ­
Weekend of Oct. 24-25, 2014
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
506 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA, 90071-2607
 

Reservations

Rooms for Friday October 24 & October 25 are being held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, 506 S. Grand Ave. Los Angelest Ca, 90071 at rates of $169 single or double, $199 triple and $229 through Sept. 23, 2014 (or as availability lasts). A limited number are being held for Thursday Oct. 23 for "early birds." Phone 1-800-245-8673 and identify yourself as part of the Freedom From Religion Foundation - Group Block Code is FFRFI 1410. Click HERE to reserve a room at the Biltmore’s registration page.

Business Services

Millennium Biltmore's business facilities include a self-service business center which is open 24 hours a day, featuring computer stations with internet access, as well as printers, color photocopy and fax machines. All guestrooms offer high-speed internet and wireless access for a nominal fee, and wireless internet is also available in the lobby, Rendezvous Court and Club Lounge.

Guest Services

When it comes to luxury hotels, Los Angeles offers a wide range of options.

That's why the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel offers more than luxurious guestrooms and first-class cuisine - a wide range of thoughtful amenities has been provided too. You should enjoy every minute of your stay, and so are proud to offer a range of services to all guests. If there's something you need, please don't hesitate to ask.

  • Concierge
  • High-Speed Internet Access/Wi-Fi (fee)
  • In-Room Dining Available 6 to 10am daily (effective 31 March 2014)
  • Laundry/Dry Cleaning Services (fee)
  • Valet Parking ($42 overnight, including 24-hour in and out privileges)
  • Check-In 3pm
  • Check-Out 12pm
  • Safe Deposit Boxes
  • In-Room Movies (fee)
  • Currency Exchange
  • 24-hour Security
  • Non-Smoking Floors
  • ADA-Compliant Accommodations
  • Express Check-Out
  • Health Club & Fitness Center with Indoor Pool
  • Arka Designs Fine Jewelry
  • Bloomies Florist
  • Visage (Aveda Full Service Salon)
  • W.H. Smith Gift Shop/Newsstand
  • 24-Hour Business Center
  • ATM Machine in Lobby
  • Club Level Rooms with Exclusive Access to Club Lounge

Children's Services:

  • Babysitting (By Arrangement)
  • High Chairs
  • Children's Menus
  • Rollaways

Disabled Access

  • Yes

Fitness Center

This downtown Los Angeles hotel offers a health club and fitness center for guests who stay active while traveling.

Facilities include a steam room, bubbling Jacuzzi™ (under renovation until further notice) and dry sauna, as well as cardiovascular and weight equipment. The indoor Roman-style pool is replete with teakwood deck chairs and cold showers, reminiscent of cruise ships from the 1920s with its original tile and mosaic work. Men's and women's locker rooms with showers are also located inside.

The Health Club at this downtown L.A. hotel is complimentary for all guests and accessible by room key only. Health Club open 24 hours; pool open from 6:00am - 10:00pm.

 
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Menu

Written by
ExteriorFreedom From Religion
     37th Annual National Convention ­
Weekend of Oct. 24-25, 2014
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
506 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA, 90071-2607
 

Two optional Saturday meals are offered: The Non-Prayer Breakfast and the Saturday Banquet Dinner.

The full breakfast ($30 including 23% service charge and 9% sales tax) is freshly squeezed orange juice, muffin and danish basket, fresh-cracked country scrambled eggs, thick-cut applewood bacon, herb-roasted red potatoes, freshly brewed regular and decaffeinated coffee and Harney & Son teas. Vegetarian is all of above, but tomato slice substituted for bacon.

Dinner ($55 including 23% service charge and 9% sales tax) is a choice of chicken or halibut with potato, vegetable and dessert (or chef’s choice vegetarian). Vegan and gluten-free available.


Bugis Street Brasserie

Renowned for its authentic Singaporean, Malaysian and Chinese flavors, Bugis Street Brasserie makes its debut in Downtown Los Angeles. Private dining rooms are available for parties of six to 30 guests.
Open Monday to Friday, 11:30am to 9:30pm.

For restaurant reservations and large-party inquiries up to 100 guests, please call 213.624.1100. To view the menu, click here.

Smeraldi's Restaurant

Restaurants in downtown L.A. don't get better than Smeraldi's, named after the Italian artist who masterminded the Spanish- & Italian-Renaissance frescoes throughout the grand hotel.

Offers casual dining in a bright, relaxing ambiance, and provides a range of homemade Italian and Continental dishes. Smeraldi's highlights include exquisite breakfast buffets, healthy lifestyle options and a chef-attended omelet station in the morning. Also featured are scrumptious lunch and dinner options including seafood, pasta and delectable desserts.

Enjoy Smeraldi's every day of the week:

Breakfast
Daily 6.30 to 10.30am
Sunday Breakfast Buffet: 6.30am to noon
View the Breakfast Menu

Lunch
Daily 11am to 2pm
View the Lunch Menu

Dinner
Daily 5 to 10pm
View the Dinner Menu

Rendezvous Court

Dining in downtown Los Angeles involves eating delicious, inventive dishes, in often unique and beautiful venues. Rendezvous Court is no exception, having served as the original lobby of the Biltmore when it opened back in 1923.

Rendezvous Court is adorned with Moorish carved wood ceilings, gold-leaf accents and Italian travertine stone walls. From its rose marble fountain to the enormous bronze Baroque stairwell, you can't help but delight in its elegant two-story lounge. The space has even been featured in film and television, including features such as Daredevil, Beverly Hills Cop, The Nutty Professor, 24 and Heroes.

Afternoon Tea

Traditional afternoon tea is served Saturday and Sunday, 2 to 5pm. Guests can choose from the $35 Victorian Tea, which includes a pot of tea from our selection of finely-blended custom teas, an assortment of elegant tea sandwiches, our freshly baked Pistachio & Currant Scones and a selection of French Macaroons, Caramel Tart & Chocolate Ganache, Madeleines and Cream Puffs. For an additional cost, you may indulge by adding a glass of Sherry, house wine or sparkling wine, Mimosa, or a Laurent Perrier split. Tax and gratuity are additional.

Reservations are suggested for the Afternoon Tea Menu, at +1 213.612.1562

Rendezvous Court Cafe offers fresh espresso, cappuccino and coffee drinks, freshly-baked pastries, fresh fruit and yogurt, a variety of freshly prepared salads and sandwiches, and bottled water and specialty juices. Open daily from 6 am to 6pm.

Gallery Bar and Cognac Room

Few bars in Los Angeles enjoy the fame of the Biltmore's Gallery Bar.

It has long been considered one of the best hotel bars in downtown Los Angeles, because its long list of signature martinis, fine wines and exclusive liqueurs come under the watchful eyes of gracefully carved angels, found above the polished granite bar. Another proud feature is the famous "Manhattan Menu," a list of six unique versions of this popular and nostalgic drink.

Sip your delicious choice of cocktail along one of the secluded leather banquettes, or retire to the adjacent Cognac Room with its soft couches and wooden cabinets, filled with Biltmore memorabilia. The menu includes a variety of wonderful dishes, such as the 1920s-style Shrimp Cocktail served in original hotel silver, or the hotel's delicious flatbreads with homemade toppings. Whether it's burgers, salads or sliders you fancy, food is served from 4:00pm - 11:00pm daily.

Operating Hours
4pm - 2am Daily

View the Gallery Bar Menu (front and back).

 
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Map

Written by
ExteriorFreedom From Religion
     37th Annual National Convention ­
Weekend of Oct. 24-25, 2014
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
506 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA, 90071-2607
 

By Car

To reach our hotel from Los Angeles International Airport, exit beyond Terminal 7, stay in right lane to Sepulveda Blvd. to 105 Freeway East (Norwalk). Proceed to 110 North (Harbor Freeway). Exit 6th Street, 4 blocks to Olive Street, turn left. 1 block to 5th Street, turn left. 1 block to Grand Avenue, turn left and turn left (2nd driveway) into the hotel. Travel time twenty-five to thirty minutes.

Burbank's Bob Hope Airport (15 miles) is also just twenty to thirty minutes' travel time, located northeast of downtown.

Public Transportation

The Metro Red Line subway stop is just one block from the hotel, across from Pershing Square at Hill St. The Red Line connects to Union Station, where trains regularly depart for San Diego, Lancaster/Palmdale, Orange County and other destinations. The Flyaway Bus also departs from Union Station to LAX Airport. Other Red Line stops include North Hollywood, Universal Studios and throughout Hollywood. Nearby buses also connect all Los Angeles neighborhoods. Check Metro for schedules.

Click on map for more information. 

1lamap

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2014 National Convention FAQ

Written by
ExteriorFreedom From Religion
     37th Annual National Convention ­
Weekend of Oct. 24-25, 2014
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
506 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA, 90071-2607
 

(This FAQ is under construction.) 

Hotel 

Rooms for Friday October 24 & October 25 are being held at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel, 506 S. Grand Ave. Los Angelest Ca, 90071 at rates of $169 single or double, $199 triple and $229 through Sept. 23, 2014 (or as availability lasts). A limited number are being held for Thursday Oct. 23 for "early birds." Phone 1-800-245-8673 and identify yourself as part of the Freedom From Religion Foundation - Group Block Code is FFRFI 1410. Click HERE to reserve a room at the Biltmore’s registration page.

To get directions to the hotel please click here

Parking

Hotel valet parking is $40 per day (overnight parking in the hotel – with in and out privileges). For guests not staying in the hotel and attending the FFRF convention, the discounted day rate in the hotel is $22.00 per car for the day with no in and out privileges.

There is also parking across the street from the hotel on Olive Street: Self Parking in Pershing Square. Cost is $10 per car for the day with no in and out privileges.

Hotel Amenities & Business Services

Millennium Biltmore's business facilities include a self-service business center which is open 24 hours a day, featuring computer stations with internet access, as well as printers, color photocopy and fax machines. All guestrooms offer high-speed internet and wireless access for a nominal fee, and wireless internet is also available in the lobby, Rendezvous Court and Club Lounge.

Guest Services

When it comes to luxury hotels, Los Angeles offers a wide range of options.

That's why the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel offers more than luxurious guestrooms and first-class cuisine - a wide range of thoughtful amenities has been provided too. You should enjoy every minute of your stay, and so are proud to offer a range of services to all guests. If there's something you need, please don't hesitate to ask.

  • Concierge
  • High-Speed Internet Access/Wi-Fi (fee)
  • In-Room Dining Available 6 to 10am daily (effective 31 March 2014)
  • Laundry/Dry Cleaning Services (fee)
  • Valet Parking ($42 overnight, including 24-hour in and out privileges)
  • Check-In 3pm
  • Check-Out 12pm
  • Safe Deposit Boxes
  • In-Room Movies (fee)
  • Currency Exchange
  • 24-hour Security
  • Non-Smoking Floors
  • ADA-Compliant Accommodations
  • Express Check-Out
  • Health Club & Fitness Center with Indoor Pool
  • Arka Designs Fine Jewelry
  • Bloomies Florist
  • Visage (Aveda Full Service Salon)
  • W.H. Smith Gift Shop/Newsstand
  • 24-Hour Business Center
  • ATM Machine in Lobby
  • Club Level Rooms with Exclusive Access to Club Lounge

Children's Services

  • Babysitting (By Arrangement)
  • High Chairs
  • Children's Menus
  • Rollaways

Disabled Access

  • Yes

Fitness Center 

When looking for a hotel near Staples Center, choose the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. This downtown Los Angeles hotel offers a health club and fitness center for guests who stay active while traveling.

Facilities include a steam room, bubbling Jacuzzi™ (under renovation until further notice) and dry sauna, as well as cardiovascular and weight equipment. The indoor Roman-style pool is replete with teakwood deck chairs and cold showers, reminiscent of cruise ships from the 1920s with its original tile and mosaic work. Men's and women's locker rooms with showers are also located inside.

The Health Club at this downtown L.A. hotel is complimentary for all guests and accessible by room key only. Health Club open 24 hours; pool open from 6:00am - 10:00pm.

FFRF Registration 

Registration is $65 for individual FFRF member, $70 for nonmember/spouse accompanying member, $110 for nonmember (or Join FFRF for $40 and save $5). Student registration is only $10. Click here to register.

Meals 

Two optional Saturday meals are offered: The Non-Prayer Breakfast and the Saturday Banquet Dinner.

The full breakfast ($30 including 23% service charge and 9% sales tax) is freshly squeezed orange juice, muffin and danish basket, fresh-cracked country scrambled eggs, thick-cut applewood bacon, herb-roasted red potatoes, freshly brewed regular and decaffeinated coffee and Harney & Son teas. Vegetarian is all of above, but tomato slice substituted for bacon.

Dinner ($55 including 23% service charge and 9% sales tax) is a choice of chicken or halibut with potato, vegetable and dessert (or chef’s choice vegetarian). Vegan and gluten-free available.

Bugis Street Brasserie  

Renowned for its authentic Singaporean, Malaysian and Chinese flavors, Bugis Street Brasserie makes its debut in Downtown Los Angeles. Private dining rooms are available for parties of six to 30 guests.
Open Monday to Friday, 11:30am to 9:30pm.

For restaurant reservations and large-party inquiries up to 100 guests, please call 213.624.1100. To view the menu, click here.

Smeraldi's Restaurant 

Restaurants in downtown L.A. don't get better than Smeraldi's, named after the Italian artist who masterminded the Spanish- & Italian-Renaissance frescoes throughout the grand hotel.

Offers casual dining in a bright, relaxing ambiance, and provides a range of homemade Italian and Continental dishes. Smeraldi's highlights include exquisite breakfast buffets, healthy lifestyle options and a chef-attended omelet station in the morning. Also featured are scrumptious lunch and dinner options including seafood, pasta and delectable desserts.

Enjoy Smeraldi's every day of the week:

Breakfast
Daily 6.30 to 10.30am
Sunday Breakfast Buffet: 6.30am to noon
View the Breakfast Menu 

Lunch
Daily 11am to 2pm
View the Lunch Menu

Dinner
Daily 5 to 10pm
View the Dinner Menu

Rendezvous Court 

Dining in downtown Los Angeles involves eating delicious, inventive dishes, in often unique and beautiful venues. Rendezvous Court is no exception, having served as the original lobby of the Biltmore when it opened back in 1923.

Rendezvous Court is adorned with Moorish carved wood ceilings, gold-leaf accents and Italian travertine stone walls. From its rose marble fountain to the enormous bronze Baroque stairwell, you can't help but delight in its elegant two-story lounge. The space has even been featured in film and television, including features such as Daredevil, Beverly Hills Cop, The Nutty Professor, 24 and Heroes.

Afternoon Tea

Traditional afternoon tea is served Saturday and Sunday, 2 to 5pm. Guests can choose from the $35 Victorian Tea, which includes a pot of tea from our selection of finely-blended custom teas, an assortment of elegant tea sandwiches, our freshly baked Pistachio & Currant Scones and a selection of French Macaroons, Caramel Tart & Chocolate Ganache, Madeleines and Cream Puffs. For an additional cost, you may indulge by adding a glass of Sherry, house wine or sparkling wine, Mimosa, or a Laurent Perrier split. Tax and gratuity are additional.

Reservations are suggested for the Afternoon Tea Menu, at +1 213.612.1562

Rendezvous Court Cafe offers fresh espresso, cappuccino and coffee drinks, freshly-baked pastries, fresh fruit and yogurt, a variety of freshly prepared salads and sandwiches, and bottled water and specialty juices. Open daily from 6 am to 6pm.

Gallery Bar and Cognac Room 

Few bars in Los Angeles enjoy the fame of the Biltmore's Gallery Bar.

It has long been considered one of the best hotel bars in downtown Los Angeles, because its long list of signature martinis, fine wines and exclusive liqueurs come under the watchful eyes of gracefully carved angels, found above the polished granite bar. Another proud feature is the famous "Manhattan Menu," a list of six unique versions of this popular and nostalgic drink.

Sip your delicious choice of cocktail along one of the secluded leather banquettes, or retire to the adjacent Cognac Room with its soft couches and wooden cabinets, filled with Biltmore memorabilia. The menu includes a variety of wonderful dishes, such as the 1920s-style Shrimp Cocktail served in original hotel silver, or the hotel's delicious flatbreads with homemade toppings. Whether it's burgers, salads or sliders you fancy, food is served from 4:00pm - 11:00pm daily.

Operating Hours
4pm - 2am Daily

View the Gallery Bar Menu (front and back).

Sightseeing Opportunitites 

Fly in early or stay on for do-it-yourself sightseeing. Below are links for several sightseeing opportunities. 

Los Angeles Hop-On-Hop-Off Double-Decker Bus Tour

Hollywood Behind-the Scenes Walking Tour

Best of Hollywood Food Tour

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Dearly Departed Tours

Other Entertainment Options 
 
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2014 National Convention Speakers

Written by
Exterior
Freedom From Religion
     37th Annual National Convention ­
Weekend of Oct. 24-25, 2014
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
506 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA, 90071-2607


johanson lucy

 

  • One honoree of the 2014 Emperor Has No Clothes Award is paleoanthropologist Donald C. Johanson, who is known for discovering the fossil of a female hominid australopithecine known as "Lucy" in the Afar Triangle region of Hadar, Ethiopia. Johanson is the founding director of the Institute of Human Origins, a human-evolution think tank, at Arizona State University. Johanson published his latest book about the Lucy discovery, Lucy’s Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins (Harmony Books, 2009). He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Westfield State College in 2008.

 


 

  • The other distinguished honoree for the 2014 Emperor Has No Clothes Award is physicist Sean Carroll, senior research associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. Carroll is a theoretical cosmologist specializing in dark energy and general relativity. Carroll is the author of The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World. Carroll, an open atheist, occasionally takes part in formal debates or discussions with theists. In 2012, Carroll teamed up with Michael Shermer to debate Ian Hutchinson of MIT and author Dinesh D'Souza at Caltech in an event titled "The Great Debate: Has Science Refuted Religion?" In 2014, Carroll debated Christian apologist William Lane Craig as part of the Greer-Heard Forum in New Orleans. The topic for the debate was "The Existence of God in Light of Contemporary Cosmology".

 


 

  • Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Law and author of The Conservative Assault on the Constitution is accepting a Champion of the First Amendment Award. Chemerinsky argued a Ten Commandments case before the U.S. Supreme Court and wrote a brief on behalf of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals laying out the unconstitutionality of the parish exemption, a law which allows ministers to be paid with “housing allowances” that can be subtracted from taxable income. FFRF has a successful challenge on appeal in the federal courts of the parish exemption. He’ll talk on “The Vanishing Wall Separating Church and State."

 


 

  • Attorney Marci Hamilton, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, will receive a Freethought Heroine Award. Hamilton, a constitutional scholar who clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, is the author of God and the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty, newly updated this year. She wrote FFRF’s amicus brief before the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby challenge of the contraceptive mandate. Her speech is titled: What is Wrong with Extreme Religious Liberty.

 


 

  • Anthony Pinn was the first African-American to hold an endowed chair at Rice University after earning degrees from Harvard and Columbia. He’s professor of humanities and religious studies and research director at the Institute for Humanist Studies. His books include Why, Lord? Suffering and Evil in Black Theology (1995), The End of God-Talk: An African American Humanist Theology and Writing God's Obituary: How a Good Methodist Became a Better Atheist.

 


 

  • New York-based photographer Christopher Johnson will give a photo presentation, “A Better Life: Atheists Speak Out on Joy and Meaning.” Johnson traveled the world photographing atheists for a fascinating 254-page book, A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God (2014). 

 


 

  • Linda Stephens is from Greece, N.Y., a suburb of Rochester. Stephens has a B.A. in English (Western Michigan University), M.A. in English (SUNY-Brockport), master of library science (SUNY-Geneseo), Ed.D. (Syracuse University) and is now a retired librarian. Stephens was the atheist plaintiff in the Town of Greece v. Galloway Supreme Court decision. She is an event organizer for the Atheist Community of Rochester (ACoR) and the vice president and web administrator for the Rochester chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Stephens was vice chair of Monroe Citizens for Public Education and Religious Liberty before it disbanded and also the past president of the Greater Rochester chapter of the National Organization for Women. Stephens is a long-time FFRF Member and new Lifetime Member will receive the Freethinker of the Year Award. 

 


 

  • Susan Galloway is a graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has worked most of her career in long-term care, specifically with people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.  She is a long-time social justice activist.  She is founding collective member of the Flying Squirrel Community Space in Rochester, New York, Susan is also is a member of the editorial board of Rochester Indymedia.  She has been an advocate for the separation of church and state since elementary school when in 5th grade she refused to sing in her school's Christmas concert.  Susan gained national attention in 2013 when the lawsuit, Town of Greece v. Galloway, in which she was a litigant advanced to the United States Supreme Court.  Unfortunately, the Court ruled in favor of the town of Greece allowing the continuance of sectarian prayer at town board meetings. Galloway will receive the Freethinker of the Year Award.

 


 

  • Scott Clifton is an Emmy-Award-winning actor who has played Dillon Quartermaine on ABC's “General Hospital” (2003–2007), Schuyler Joplin on ABC's “One Life to Live” (2009–2010), and Liam Cooper on CBS' “The Bold and the Beautiful” (2010 - Present). He won an Emmy in 2011 and again in 2013. He is also a life-long atheist and host of the freethought Youtube blog “Theoretical B.S.”

 


 

  • Jessica Ahlquist became known in 2012 after a lawsuit to remove a religious prayer from her school auditorium. The suit, Ahlquist v. Cranston, was filed with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union, and was ultimately decided in her favor. In 2011 she received FFRF’s Thomas Jefferson Youth Student Activist Award. Ahlquist has been an invited speaker at a number of events, spanning at least five US states and international media. Her speech is called: Communicating Secular Ideas with the Religious.

 


 

  • danDan Barker is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation with his wife Annie Laurie Gaylor. He was a Christian preacher and musician for 19 years who left Christianity in 1984. To this day he receives royalties from his popular children's Christian musicals, "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "His Fleece Was White as Snow." Barker graduated from Azusa Pacific University and currently lives in Madison, Wis. Besides being a successful musician with over 200 composed and recorded songs, Barker is the author of several books including "Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist," (1992) and "Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists" (2008). Barker has appeared on such shows as "Oprah Winfrey," "Good Morning American," "The Daily Show" and "60 Minutes - Australia." FFRF has released three of his musical albums: "My Neighborhood Atheist," "Beware of Dogma" and "Adrift on a Star." He is chair of the Clergy Project, helping ministers who have lost faith leave the ministry.

 


 

  • pkrebeccamarkertRebecca Markert attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and received her B.A. in political science, international relations and German in 1998. After graduating from UW–Madison, Rebecca spent one year working as a legislative fellow at the German Parliament in Bonn, Germany. In the fall 1999, she returned to the United States and began working as a legislative correspondent and assistant to the chief of staff for United States Senator Russ Feingold in Washington, D.C. In 2002, she returned to Madison, Wisconsin, to work on Senator Feingold’s 2004 re-election campaign. After the campaign, Rebecca attended Roger Williams University School of Law and received her Juris Doctor in 2008. She joined the Foundation staff in October 2008. Rebecca is the FFRF’s first staff attorney and primarily works on Establishment Clause cases. She is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, Dane County Bar Association, and is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin.

 


 

  • pkpatrickelliottPatrick Elliot is the Foundation's second staff attorney, hails from St. Paul, Minn. Patrick received a degree in legal studies and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005. He attended the University of Wisconsin Law School and received his Juris Doctor in 2009. While in school, Patrick took an interest in the First Amendment and constitutional law. He joined FFRF as a staff attorney in July 2010, after working part-time for the Foundation since February. Patrick is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Western and Eastern Districts of Wisconsin.

 


 

  • pkandrewseidelAndrew Seidel graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a B.S. in neuroscience and environmental science and magna cum laude from Tulane University Law School, where he was awarded the Haber J. McCarthy Award for excellence in environmental law. He studied human rights and international law at the University of Amsterdam and traveled the world on Semester at Sea. In May of 2011, Andrew completed his Master of Laws at Denver University Sturm College of Law with a 4.0 GPA and was awarded the Outstanding L.L.M. Award. He has written a book on International Human Rights Law and his essay on the role of religion in government and the founding of our nation placed second in the FFRF's 2010 graduate student essay contest. Andrew is a former Grand Canyon tour guide and accomplished nature photographer; his work has been displayed in galleries in Colorado, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Maryland. He joined the FFRF staff as a constitutional consultant in November 2011.

 


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2014 National Convention Schedule

Written by
ExteriorFreedom From Religion
     37th Annual National Convention ­
Weekend of Oct. 24-25, 2014
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
506 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA, 90071-2607 
 

 This schedule is tentative and may be subject to changes.

Arrive Thursday if you want to do some morning sightseeing.

Friday, October 24

2:00 p.m. Registration opens, etc.

3:00 - 5:00 p.m.  Afternoon workshops by FFRF Staff Attorneys Rebecca Markert, Patrick Elliott & Andrew Seidel. FFRF legal updates/combatting Christian nation claims.

Complimentary appetizers

Dinner on your own

7:00 p.m. Welcome
Dan Barker & Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-Presidents

7:30 p.m. Freethought Heroine Award - Attorney Marci Hamilton
    What is Wrong with Extreme Religious Liberty

8:15 p.m. “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” Secular Invocation
    Introduced by Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel (winner to be announced)

8:20 p.m. Freethinkers of the Year Presentation
    Plaintiffs in the Town of Greece v. Galloway decision Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens

9:00 p.m. Emperor Has No Clothes Award Acceptance Speech
    Anthropologist Donald C. Johanson
    
Booksigning & Complimentary Dessert Reception follows

Saturday, October 25

8:00 a.m. Non-Prayer Breakfast (for ticket-holders)

9:00 a.m. Registration, ballroom reopens

9:25 a.m. “Nothing Fails Like Prayer”
    Song by Dan Barker

9:30 a.m. Welcome
    FFRF Director of Operations Lisa Strand, Dan Barker & Annie Laurie Gaylor

9:45 a.m. An Atheist Actor in Hollywood
    Scott Clifton
    Theoretical B.S.

10:15 a.m. Coffee/tea break

10:30 a.m. Photographer/author Chris Jones
    A Better Life: An Exploration of Joy and Meaning in a World without God

11:00 a.m. Activist Jessica Alquist
    Communicating Secular Ideas with the Religious

11:30 a.m. Activist Barbara Mancini
    From Accused to Activist

12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Lunch/sightseeing on your own

2:00 p.m. Author/professor Anthony Pinn
    Writing God's Obituary: How a Good Methodist Became a Better Atheist

2:45 p.m. Champion of the First Amendment Presentation
    Law professor Erwin Chemerinsky
    The Vanishing Wall Separating Church and State

3:15 p.m. Emperor Has No Clothes Award Acceptance Speech
    Physicist Sean Carroll

4:30 p.m. Booksigning for all three afternoon authors

6:30 p.m. Banquet Dinner (for ticket-holders)

8:00 p.m. Drawing for “clean,” pre-In God We Trust currency ($1 to $100)

8:30 p.m. The Singing Atheist - piano concert by FFRF Co-President Dan Barker

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2014 National Convention - Los Angeles

Written by
ExteriorFreedom From Religion
     37th Annual National Convention ­
Weekend of Oct. 24-25, 2014
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
506 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA, 90071-2607

Register Now!


  Galeria 12-13 

Join us at the beautiful Millennium Biltmore!

     

 Stephens Linda susangalloway 1scott

From left to right: Donald C. Johanson, Sean Carroll, Erwin Chemerinsky, Marci Hamilton, Anthony Pinn, Christopher Johnson, Linda Stephens, Susan Galloway & Scott Clifton.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s 37th annual national convention will take place Oct. 24-25, 2014, at the legendary Biltmore Hotel, 506 S. Grand Avenue in Los Angeles.

The Biltmore, a luxury hotel and favorite of dignitaries, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and is steps away from the L.A. Live entertainment complex, Staples Center, Ahmanson Theatre, Walt Disney Concert Hall and a few miles from Dodger Stadium.

FFRF is delighted to announce two distinguished scientists will accept its Emperor Has No Clothes Award, a brass statuette reserved for public figures who “tell it like it is” about religion. 

One honoree of the 2014 Emperor Has No Clothes Award is paleoanthropologist Donald C. Johanson, who is known for discovering the fossil of a female hominid australopithecine known as "Lucy" in the Afar Triangle region of Hadar, Ethiopia. Johanson is the founding director of the Institute of Human Origins, a human-evolution think tank, at Arizona State University. Johanson published his latest book about the Lucy discovery, Lucy’s Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins (Harmony Books, 2009). He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Westfield State College in 2008.

The other distinguished honoree for the 2014 Emperor Has No Clothes Award is physicist Sean Carroll, senior research associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. Carroll is a theoretical cosmologist specializing in dark energy and general relativity. Carroll is the author of The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World. Carroll, an open atheist, occasionally takes part in formal debates or discussions with theists. In 2012, Carroll teamed up with Michael Shermer to debate Ian Hutchinson of MIT and author Dinesh D'Souza at Caltech in an event titled "The Great Debate: Has Science Refuted Religion?" In 2014, Carroll debated Christian apologist William Lane Craig as part of the Greer-Heard Forum in New Orleans. The topic for the debate was "The Existence of God in Light of Contemporary Cosmology".

Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California-Irvine School of Law and author of The Conservative Assault on the Constitution is accepting a Champion of the First Amendment Award. Chemerinsky argued a Ten Commandments case before the U.S. Supreme Court and wrote a brief on behalf of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals laying out the unconstitutionality of the parish exemption, a law which allows ministers to be paid with “housing allowances” that can be subtracted from taxable income. FFRF has a successful challenge on appeal in the federal courts of the parish exemption. He’ll talk on “The Vanishing Wall Separating Church and State."
Attorney Marci Hamilton, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, will receive a Freethought Heroine Award. Hamilton, a constitutional scholar who clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, is the author of God and the Gavel: The Perils of Extreme Religious Liberty, newly updated this year. She wrote FFRF’s amicus brief before the Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby challenge of the contraceptive mandate. Her speech is titled: What is Wrong with Extreme Religious Liberty.

Anthony Pinn was the first African-American to hold an endowed chair at Rice University after earning degrees from Harvard and Columbia. He’s professor of humanities and religious studies and research director at the Institute for Humanist Studies. His books include Why, Lord? Suffering and Evil in Black Theology (1995), The End of God-Talk: An African American Humanist Theology and Writing God's Obituary: How a Good Methodist Became a Better Atheist.

New York-based photographer Christopher Johnson will give a photo presentation, “A Better Life: Atheists Speak Out on Joy and Meaning.” Johnson traveled the world photographing atheists for a fascinating 254-page book, A Better Life: 100 Atheists Speak Out on Joy & Meaning in a World Without God (2014).

Linda Stephens is from Greece, N.Y., a suburb of Rochester. Stephens has a B.A. in English (Western Michigan University), M.A. in English (SUNY-Brockport), master of library science (SUNY-Geneseo), Ed.D. (Syracuse University) and is now a retired librarian. Stephens was the atheist plaintiff in the Town of Greece v. Galloway Supreme Court decision. She is an event organizer for the Atheist Community of Rochester (ACoR) and the vice president and web administrator for the Rochester chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Stephens was vice chair of Monroe Citizens for Public Education and Religious Liberty before it disbanded and also the past president of the Greater Rochester chapter of the National Organization for Women. Stephens is a long-time FFRF Member and new Lifetime Member will receive the Freethinker of the Year Award.

Susan Galloway is a graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has worked most of her career in long-term care, specifically with people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. She is a long-time social justice activist. She is founding collective member of the Flying Squirrel Community Space in Rochester, New York, Susan is also is a member of the editorial board of Rochester Indymedia. She has been an advocate for the separation of church and state since elementary school when in 5th grade she refused to sing in her school's Christmas concert. Susan gained national attention in 2013 when the lawsuit, Town of Greece v. Galloway, in which she was a litigant advanced to the United States Supreme Court. Unfortunately, the Court ruled in favor of the town of Greece allowing the continuance of sectarian prayer at town board meetings. Galloway will receive the Freethinker of the Year Award.

Scott Clifton is an Emmy-Award-winning actor who has played Dillon Quartermaine on ABC's “General Hospital” (2003–2007), Schuyler Joplin on ABC's “One Life to Live” (2009–2010), and Liam Cooper on CBS' “The Bold and the Beautiful” (2010 - Present). He won an Emmy in 2011 and again in 2013. He is also a life-long atheist and host of the freethought Youtube blog “Theoretical B.S.”

Jessica Ahlquist became known in 2012 after a lawsuit to remove a religious prayer from her school auditorium. The suit, Ahlquist v. Cranston, was filed with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union, and was ultimately decided in her favor. In 2011 she received FFRF’s Thomas Jefferson Youth Student Activist Award. Ahlquist has been an invited speaker at a number of events, spanning at least five US states and international media. Her speech is called: Communicating Secular Ideas with the Religious.

Dan Barker is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation with his wife Annie Laurie Gaylor. He was a Christian preacher and musician for 19 years who left Christianity in 1984. To this day he receives royalties from his popular children's Christian musicals, "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "His Fleece Was White as Snow." Barker graduated from Azusa Pacific University and currently lives in Madison, Wis. Besides being a successful musician with over 200 composed and recorded songs, Barker is the author of several books including "Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist," (1992) and "Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists" (2008). Barker has appeared on such shows as "Oprah Winfrey," "Good Morning American," "The Daily Show" and "60 Minutes - Australia." FFRF has released three of his musical albums: "My Neighborhood Atheist," "Beware of Dogma" and "Adrift on a Star." He is chair of the Clergy Project, helping ministers who have lost faith leave the ministry.

Rebecca Markert attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and received her B.A. in political science, international relations and German in 1998. After graduating from UW–Madison, Rebecca spent one year working as a legislative fellow at the German Parliament in Bonn, Germany. In the fall 1999, she returned to the United States and began working as a legislative correspondent and assistant to the chief of staff for United States Senator Russ Feingold in Washington, D.C. In 2002, she returned to Madison, Wisconsin, to work on Senator Feingold’s 2004 re-election campaign. After the campaign, Rebecca attended Roger Williams University School of Law and received her Juris Doctor in 2008. She joined the Foundation staff in October 2008. Rebecca is the FFRF’s first staff attorney and primarily works on Establishment Clause cases. She is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, Dane County Bar Association, and is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin.

Patrick Elliot is the Foundation's second staff attorney, hails from St. Paul, Minn. Patrick received a degree in legal studies and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005. He attended the University of Wisconsin Law School and received his Juris Doctor in 2009. While in school, Patrick took an interest in the First Amendment and constitutional law. He joined FFRF as a staff attorney in July 2010, after working part-time for the Foundation since February. Patrick is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Western and Eastern Districts of Wisconsin.

Andrew Seidel graduated cum laude from Tulane University with a B.S. in neuroscience and environmental science and magna cum laude from Tulane University Law School, where he was awarded the Haber J. McCarthy Award for excellence in environmental law. He studied human rights and international law at the University of Amsterdam and traveled the world on Semester at Sea. In May of 2011, Andrew completed his Master of Laws at Denver University Sturm College of Law with a 4.0 GPA and was awarded the Outstanding L.L.M. Award. He has written a book on International Human Rights Law and his essay on the role of religion in government and the founding of our nation placed second in the FFRF's 2010 graduate student essay contest. Andrew is a former Grand Canyon tour guide and accomplished nature photographer; his work has been displayed in galleries in Colorado, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Maryland. He joined the FFRF staff as a constitutional consultant in November 2011.

Other speakers and honorees will be announced in future issues and online at ffrf.org/convention/.

Those who might enjoy a little sightseeing can do so Friday morning, then attend afternoon workshops featuring staff attorneys and an appetizer reception from 3-5. Registration opens up at 2 p.m. and continues through the convention.

The program begins formally at 7 p.m. Friday night, including speakers, honorees and a complimentary dessert reception. Saturday begins with FFRF’s nontraditional Non-Prayer Breakfast. An all-day program concludes after the evening keynote speech.

The convention will include the annual drawing for “clean” (pre-“In God We Trust”) currency and some entertainment at the piano by FFRF Co-President Dan (“The Singing Atheist”) Barker. It is followed by the annual membership meeting and meeting of FFRF state representatives Sunday morning.

The Biltmore’s eateries include Smeraldi’s and the Rendezvous Court, which offers traditional afternoon tea, as well as the Gallery Bar with jazz nights and signature martinis, along with Bugis Street Brasserie, offering authentic Singaporean-Chinese cuisine. 

FFRF Registration

Registration is $65 for individual FFRF member, $70 for nonmember/spouse accompanying member, $105 for nonmember (includes $40 annual membership). Student registration is only $10. Click here to register.

 
 

The 2013 36th Annual National Convention took place 36th Annual September 27-29, in Madison, Wi. Speakers included Dan Savage, Juan Mendez, Sara Paretsky, Zack Kopplin, Jamila Bey, Aisha Goss, Jim McCollum, Jay Rosenstein and Ellery Schempp. Read more . . . 

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