Ron Reagan, Taslima Nasrin, activists, authors featured

It’s time to make plans to attend the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s 38th annual national convention the weekend of Oct. 9-11, 2015, at Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive, Madison, Wis. Reserve your hotel rooms now to avoid disappointment (see sidebar).

Irreverent newsmakers, authors, attorneys, commentators and music will be featured. Keynoter Ron Reagan, the “unabashed atheist, not afraid of burning in hell” featured in FFRF’s TV and radio ads, will speak at Friday night’s opening of the formal conference.
Before the conference Friday morning, from 9 to 11:30 a.m., will be the official grand opening of FFRF’s five-story addition and renovation, including complimentary juice, rolls, coffee and tea in the Charlie Brooks Auditorium, and a self-guided tour with friendly staffers stationed throughout. Short films about Freethought Hall and its construction project and a memorial to FFRF principal founder Anne Gaylor will loop for those interested.

Legal and activist workshops will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. concurrently with a lakeside reception at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed convention center. (See general schedule in sidebar.)


Joining Reagan as confirmed speakers are:

Taslima Nasrin, who has been under a fatwa for about 20 years from Bangladesh imams, was receiving escalating death threats and was on the same “hit list” as three atheist bloggers hacked to death on the streets of Bangladesh. She relocated from India with help from FFRF and the Center for Inquiry this June. She will receive FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award, reserved for public figures who “tell it like it is about religion.”
Nasrin had worked as an anesthesiologist in Bangladesh, became a poet and columnist and wrote a novel, Shame in 1993, when the first fawa was issued against her. She received a Freethought Heroine Award from FFRF in 2002. Nasrin has said, “Religion is the great oppressor, and should be abolished.”

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 NPR’s “Fresh Air” 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 Warren’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 FFRF’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 “nonreligion” a protected class in Madison, Wis. Weier, former city editor for The Capital Times, served as an alderperson for two terms. Her “first of its kind” ordinance passed with no dissent on March 31.

Steven Hewett will be honored with FFRF’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.

To receive an expenses-paid trip to the convention, persuade your prayerful local governmental body to let you to give a secular invocation, and enter FFRF’s Nothing Fails Like Prayer contest (see details on page 10 or at 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 Saturday’s dinner, which will also include the annual drawing for “clean money” (pre-“In God We Trust”).

Freedom From Religion Foundation