The Foundation’s 34th annual convention is set for Hartford, Conn., at the Marriott Hartford Downtown on the weekend of Oct. 7-9, 2011.
“We chose Hartford for East Coast convenience and so that members might have a chance to tour the fascinating Victorian house that Mark Twain built, which is now a museum,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president.
The free Hartford Star Shuttle connects the Connecticut Convention Center (across the street from the hotel) and riverfront with other downtown hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions.
A major attraction not on the shuttle route is the Mark Twain House and Museum. If enough convention-goers sign up (check registration form), FFRF will reserve the Twain Home and Museum for a staggered group tour on the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 7, before the convention opens. (See sidebar.)
Other Hartford attractions are Katherine Hepburn’s gravesite, at Cedar Hill Cemetery, and the Harriet Beecher Stowe house.
Professor Jerry Coyne will accept FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award at the convention. Coyne, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, is author of the 2009 book, Why Evolution is True. His plain-spoken column, “Science and religion aren’t friends,” appeared in USA Today in October 2010, in which he wrote:
“Science and faith are fundamentally incompatible, and for precisely the same reason that irrationality and rationality are incompatible. They are different forms of inquiry, with only one, science, equipped to find real truth. And while they may have a dialogue, it’s not a constructive one. Science helps religion only by disproving its claims, while religion has nothing to add to science.”
Also receiving awards will be two FFRF activists. Steve Trunk, an FFRF Board and Lifetime Member, will receive the Atheist in Foxhole Award as plaintiff in a lawsuit in which the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in January declared the Mount Soledad cross in San Diego unconstitutional.
Mitch Kahle, founder of Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church, will be named Freethinker of the Year for persuading the Hawaii Senate in January to drop prayers to open legislative sessions. Kahle, a longtime FFRF supporter, was roughed up by Senate security for protesting prayers.
The convention will open formally on Friday night with speeches and a celebratory dessert reception, continue through Saturday and conclude by noon Sunday morning after membership and Board of Director meetings. To tour the Twain house, plan your itinerary to make time on Friday afternoon.
FFRF group rates at the Marriott Hartford Downtown, 200 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, Conn., are $159 plus tax, single, double, triple or quadruple. Reserve your rooms directly by requesting “Freedom From Religion Foundation” Group Block by calling toll-free to 866-373-9806.
Rooms for FFRF conventions always go fast, so plan ahead to avoid disappointment. Rooms are held until Sept. 6 unless filled before then. Head’s up: There are no shuttles from the airport. Taxi rides from airport to hotel typically run $36 to $44, so try to share. FFRF decreased its convention registration rates accordingly. Parking is $19 daily/$23 valet. Union Station is less than a mile from the hotel.
To register for the convention (only $50 per member, $55 per spouse or companion accompanying member, $95 for non-member), send back the handy registration form this on page or go online to:
Reserve spot now for Twain group tour
Hartford, Conn., is home to the Mark Twain House and Museum. Samuel Langhorne Clemens commissioned architect Edward Tuckerman Potter to design the 11,500-square-foot Victorian home. It was completed in 1874, and the family lived there until 1891. It has 25 rooms on three floors. In 2003, the Mark Twain Museum Center opened with permanent and rotating exhibits, including a Ken Burns mini-documentary on Twain. The Murasaki Café offers Japanese cuisine from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
If enough members reserve tickets, the Twain House and Museum will close for FFRF-only guided tours Friday, Oct. 7 (11:30 a.m. to last guided tour at 4:30 p.m.). Admission to the house is by guided tour only (approximately 45 minutes) and is limited to 16 persons per tour. The self-guided tour of the museum usually takes viewers an hour to 90 minutes.
A group tour, including cost of the FFRF-hired shuttle, would be less than the usual fee of $16 per adult, $10 per child. The exact tour price will be announced after the Twain House is reserved. The shuttle bus would depart from the hotel about every 15 minutes on a first-come, first-served basis.
If interested, please check the boxon the registration form to reserve tickets. FFRF will bill you separately for the tour once details are confirmed.