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2013 Convention  
Madison, Wis.

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Raleigh Regional Convention

May 2 – 3

Raleigh Convention


October 24—25  , 2014

37th Annual Convention
Los Angeles, Cal.

2014 Convention

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Lauryn Seering

Lauryn Seering

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 . . . 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn a federal district court decision approving a shrine to Jesus on Big Mountain in Montana.

"A permanent Catholic shrine on public land is prohibited by the Establishment Clause, every bit as much as a Catholic church would be," asserts FFRF's appeal brief, filed  Jan. 28.

A 6-foot-tall shrine to Jesus Christ sits on a 7-foot pedestal on Big Mountain in the Flathead National Forest, which is owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

Since 1953, the Forest Service has issued a permit allowing the Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic men's group, to place without cost a "Shrine overlooking the Big Mountain ski run," whose purpose is "to erect a Statue of our Lord Jesus Christ."

In response to initial objections to the shrine, the Knights of Columbus claimed "that our Lord himself selected this site."

FFRF wrote the Forest Service in 2011 to object to permit renewal. When Chip Weber, Flathead National Forest supervisor, agreed, determining it was "an inappropriate use of public land," he faced blistering criticism and withdrew the decision, FFRF's brief notes.

FFRF is suing on behalf of its 100 Montana members, including three who have come into unwelcome contact with the shrine. William Cox, who has long been personally opposed to the shrine, has frequent and unwanted exposure to it when he skis on Big Mountain many times each winter.

FFRF member Doug Bonham found the shrine "grossly out of place" when first encountering it, and his 15-year-old daughter, who often skis on the mountain, considers it "ridiculously out of place."

Likewise, FFRF member Pamela Morris, a third-generation Montanan, first encountered the shrine as a teenager in 1957 at age 15 as part of a ski team, when she found the statue "intrusive" and "startlingly out of place." She has since avoided the area, choosing to backpack, fish and camp where nature has not been violated.

FFRF accuses the Forest Service not only of giving preferential consideration to a Catholic shrine, but of engaging in subterfuge. After controversy erupted and the service backpedaled, it approached the Montana State Historic Preservation Office, asking that it "concur" that the shrine was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, even though religious properties are ineligible if associated with important persons, events or religious values.

In January 2012, Weber renewed the permit. The record also shows a decision by the Forest Service to emphasize the shrine's "historic" ties to development of the ski hill over its religious nature.

The record shows that the Forest Service long voiced internal concerns about the shrine's constitutionality and nervousness over "public relations problems" if it removed the statue.

In response to the government's contention that the shrine is not widely used for worship, FFRF responded that the fact that tourists may view Notre Dame for secular reasons does not "destroy the religious nature of that church."

The government has argued that because the violation is longstanding, the shrine has become "historic." FFRF argues that if courts followed such logic, segregated public schools and bans on interracial marriage would still prevail.

"The Government's argument, reduced to its essence, otherwise would mean that religious iconography on public land is acceptable if supported by popular interest groups. The Establishment Clause, in other words, would be subject to majoritarian or popular demand. That, however, is not the lesson of our Constitution — nor a paradigm for historical success, as worldwide religious conflict attests. Religious icons on public land cannot be constitutionally salvaged by local celebrity status."

FFRF v. Chip Weber, U.S. Forest Service and Knights of Columbus, Kalispell Council No. 1328 appeals District Judge Dana Christensen's June 24, 2013, ruling. Richard L. Bolton, of Boardman and Clark, Madison, Wis., is litigation attorney, with Martin S. King and Reid Perkins of Worden Thane, Missoula, Mont., serving as local counsel.

Read more background HERE. 

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Convention FAQ


Freedom From Religion
     in the Bible Belt ­— May 2-3, 2014
Raleigh Regional Convention
Sheraton Raleigh, 421 South Salisbury St., Raleigh N.C.

888-974-3068 -

Phone the Raleigh Sheraton at 1-800-325-3535 by April 4 and identify yourself as an FFRF member. The rates are $129 single/double, $139 triple, $149 quad and $169 club, plus tax. Make your reservation online today by clicking HERE. 

Check-in: 3 PM. Checkout: Noon.

Hotel Attractions:

The Sheraton Raleigh Hotel is in a prime position for guests to visit many restaurants, museums, and nightlife options within walking distance of the hotel.

The bell staff will gladly provide maps free of charge to guests wishing to explore the area on foot.

How to get from the airport: 

Check for appropriate links HERE for construction/road conditions near Raleigh.

The Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) is just 15 miles away from the Sheraton Raleigh Hotel.  Since getting to and from the airport is a 20-25 minute drive, there are many transportation options for guests to take including car rental, taxi, or one of the many public transportation options available.  The Sheraton Raleigh Hotel is in a prime position for guests to visit many restaurants, museums, and nightlife options within walking distance of the hotel. There are also transportation services and taxis on standby at the hotel should you need to travel outside of the local downtown area. 

Raleigh/Durham Airport (RDU)
Travel Distance: Approximately 24.14 km/15.0 miles
Options for getting to and from the hotel include:
Taxi - Fee: 50 USD

Greyhound Bus Station
Travel Distance: Approximately 1.61 km/1.0 miles
Options for getting to and from the hotel include:
Taxi - Fee: 8 USD

Amtrak Railway
Travel Distance: Approximately 0.3 km/0.19 miles
Options for getting to and from the hotel include:
Taxi - Fee: 5 USD


American Concierge will offer FFRF Mini-Convention-goers a rate of $20.00 per person one-way from Raleigh airport to Raleigh Sheraton Hotel, 421 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh, N.C., with advance reservations of at least 24 hours in advance required.

American Concierge encourages attendees to reserve your shuttle pick-up as soon as you make your flight arrangements. To make reservations, phone 888-884-7015 and be prepared to provide the following information: Name, number of passengers, arrival date, airline, flight number and arrival time, as well as cell phone. You're encouraged to make your return booking from the hotel at the same time, and to have all flight information ready.

Rental Vehicles: 

Thrifty Car Rental - Contact: (919) 832-9381
Avis Rent A Car - Contact: (800) 831-2847
Enterprise Rent A Car - Contact: (919) 833-8788
Spirit - Contact: (919) 850-3300
Third Party Shuttle-
American Concierge - American Concierge is a 24-hour shared ride shuttle company that provides service throughout the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. American Concierge provides transfers from your home, office or hotel.
Fee: Varies, based on transportation requirements
Hours: 24 hours
Contact: (888) 884-7015; Reservation Required

Directions to the Sheraton: 

Driving Directions to Sheraton Raleigh Hotel

From East-

  • Take Interstate 40 to Exit 298B (South Saunders Street).
  • Keep right to McDowell Street. Turn right onto Davie Street and then right onto Salisbury Street.
  • The hotel will be on the left. *Note* Please ignore the detour signs.

From South

  • Take State Highway 1 to Interstate 40 East. Proceed on I-40E  and take Exit 298B (South Saunders Street).
  • Keep right to McDowell Street.
  • Turn right onto Davie Street and then right onto Salisbury Street.
  • The hotel will be on the left.  *Note* Please ignore the detour signs.
  • From Raleigh-Durham International Airport
  • Take Interstate 40 East towards Raleigh and take Exit 298B (South Saunders Street).
  • Keep right and continue to McDowell Street and then turn right onto Davie Street.
  • Turn right onto South Salisbury Street to the hotel.

From North

  • Take State Highway 1 to Capital Boulevard. Proceed on Capital Boulevard which will become Dawson Street.
  • Turn left onto Hillsborough Street and then right onto Salisbury Street.
  • The hotel is on the left. *Note* Please ignore the detour signs.

Parking at the Sheraton: 

Self Parking - 12 USD/day

Nearby Oversized Vehicle Parking Garage - 40 USD/day


Hotel Eateries: 


Jimmy V's Osteria + Bar

Located within Sheraton Raleigh Hotel is Jimmy V's Osteria + Bar, an Italian-American eatery that features traditional comfort foods made with locally grown ingredients. Jimmy V’s serves breakfast, lunch and dinner so you can start the day with cinnamon pecan pancakes and finish it with a wood-fired pizza. Ourhas created a menu that emphasizes sharing, so guests can bond with their colleagues, friends and family. This fun and energetic atmosphere makes Jimmy V’s the perfect place to watch the game, spend time with family, or enjoy a cocktail and small bites on the outdoor patio. 


Sunday-Thursday: 6:30 am-10pm
Friday & Saturday: 7am-11pm.

View the menu here. 

Café Sienna

The revitalized Sheraton Raleigh Hotel features Café Sienna, located in the lobby. This new addition is the ideal place to meet up with friends and other guests while enjoying a cup of coffee to start the day off right.

In-Room Dining

You will find a full dining selection to please every palate in the comfort of your Raleigh hotel room. Serviced by our  in-house restaurant, Jimmy Vs Osteria +Bar, you’ll have the full selection of our breakfast, lunch and dinner options. 

In Room Dining is available:

Sunday-Thursday: 6:30 am-10pm
Friday & Saturday: 7am-11pm

Hotel Amenities: 

  • Self Parking Facilities - $12 per day
  • Nearby Oversized Vehicle Parking Garage - $40 per day
  • Dry Cleaning Service
  • Concierge Service (Club Level guests)
  • Smoke Detectors
  • 100% Non-Smoking Rooms and Facilities
  • Luggage Storage
  • 24-Hour Front Desk
  • Indoor Heated Pool & Jacuzzi
  • Sheraton Fitness programmed by Core Performance
  • Sheraton Club Lounge
  • High Speed Internet Access in the Club Lounge (Complimentary)
  • Wireless High Speed Internet Service in Guest Rooms - $10 per day

Fitness Center: 

Open daily 24/7, located on the lower lobby level to the left of the escalator.

The fitness center includes:

  • Strength-training machines, weight benches & free-weights
  • Life Fitness Signature Series cardio equipment pieces
  • Locker rooms and showers with bath amenities & towels
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Convention Menu


Freedom From Religion
     in the Bible Belt ­— May 2-3, 2014
Raleigh Regional Convention
Sheraton Raleigh, 421 South Salisbury St., Raleigh N.C.

The Non-Prayer breakfast

Scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, juice, coffee and tea and pastry rolls, $20 (inclusive of 23% service and 7.75% sales tax). A vegetarian option will substitute a tomato for meat; meal is gluten-free with elimination of pastry basket.

Saturday banquet

Dinner options include:

  • Chicken Saltimbocca (chicken breast stuffed with sliced prosciutto, sage and fresh mozzarella served with penne with garlic cream sauce and sautéed asparagus)
  • A grilled salmon entree (freshwater grilled salmon with infused lemon dill oil served with garlic risotto, asparagus and roasted tomatoes)
  • Farm-fresh vegetable plate (marinated and grilled eggplant, squash, zucchini, portabella mushrooms, cabbage, kale sauteed in evoo, with baked sweet potato mash and candied carrots)

All include a garden salad (Bibb lettuce with vine-ripped tomatoes, fresh mozzarella shaved red onions accompanied with balsamic vinaigrette), warm rolls with butter, sweet iced tea, Starbucks coffee and dessert, a fresh assorted berries tower (strawberries, blueberries and raspberries tossed with triple sec and lemon zest whipped cream.)

The salmon and farm-fresh vegetable entrees are gluten-free. The vegetable plate is vegan.

Dinner is $40 (inclusive of 23% service and 7.75% sales tax).

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


FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.