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NATIONAL CONVENTION

October 24—25  , 2014

37th Annual Convention
Los Angeles, Cal.

2014 Convention

Upcoming Events & Appearances

Appearances, Debates, Speeches and More

Lauryn Seering

Lauryn Seering

Olive Branch High School in Hernando, Miss., will no longer permit its football coach to organize Christian pre-game prayers with his players, thanks to a complaint by FFRF. Staff Attorney Sam Grover sent a letter May 15 as a follow up to a 2011 violation, in which prayers were blasted over the loudspeakers at games. A resident in the community who regularly attends high school football games reported that since prayer over the loudspeaker was halted, the coach has continually led players in prayer despite the previous warning.

“It is a violation of the Constitution for [any coach] to organize or participate in prayers before football games,” Grover informed DeSoto County Schools. “As you are aware from our August 2011 letter, it is illegal for a public school to sponsor religious messages at school athletic events. The Supreme Court has continually struck down teacher or school-led prayer in public schools. . . The controlling Court of Appeals in Mississippi has held that coach involvement in prayer at practices and games is unconstitutional because the prayers ‘take place during school-controlled, curriculum-related activities that members of the [athletic] team are required to attend. During these activities [district] coaches and other school employees are present as representatives of the school and their actions are representative of [district] policies.’”

On June 9, Principal Allyson Killough replied to FFRF that the coach “has been instructed not to pray with his team.”

George Washington High School in Charleston W. Va., will no longer aid in coordinating and financing a baccalaureate service for graduating seniors.

FFRF was contacted by a concerned student after the school sent two mailings to graduating seniors describing the service as a “worship experience.” The mailing announced a school teacher was supervising student planning and sought donations, with checks made payable to the high school. A formal invitation was also sent to students, with the envelope mailed from the school. The invitation announced the date and time of “a service representing all walks of faith.”

FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott sent the district a strong letter outlining why this is such an egregious violation:

“The school’s role in sending letters to seniors from the school, collecting and disbursing funds for the service, and allowing a teacher to coordinate the service, signals to a reasonable graduating senior or parent that Kanawha County Schools endorses the religious messages espoused at these services. To avoid the perception of school sponsorship of religious practices, a public school should take measures to disassociate itself from the activity. This means that no public school employee can be involved in the organization, planning or coordinating of baccalaureate services. Public schools may not collect and distribute funds for the service and send mailings to students about the service.”

On May 13, the school’s attorney replied: “The school made an additional announcement last week that the baccalaureate was not a school sponsored function, attendance was voluntary and whether or not a student attended would have no effect on anything at the school. . . I believe having a member of school faculty involved and running money through the school accounts was done to assure the parents that everything would be handled properly. Nevertheless, these practices are going to stop, and the account will be closed at the end of this school year.”

The school also agreed to cease mailing baccalaureate invitations to students.

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Hotel Site & Amenities

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

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

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. 

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FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

FFRF privacy statement

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FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.