Godless squad readies to meet on East Coast

The Freedom From Religion Found-ation’s 34th annual convention takes place the weekend of Oct. 7-9, 2011, at the Marriott Hartford in downtown Hartford, Conn.

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction, will be named Freethought Heroine 2011 and will speak on “36 Arguments Against the Existence of God.” Named “Best Novel of 2010” by the Christian Science Monitor and “Five Favorite Books of 2010” by National Public Radio, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God ends with a chapter in which Rebecca’s atheist protagonist offers 36 arguments against the existence of God.

Goldstein has written five novels, a book of short stories and nonfiction, including Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity. She has taught at Barnard, the Columbia MFA writing program, the department of philosophy at Rutgers, been a visiting scholar at Brandeis and at Trinity College in Hartford. She is research associate at Harvard’s department of psychology and is married to scientist Steven Pinker, a previous FFRF honoree and Honorary Board member.

Other honorees include:

• Professor Jerry Coyne, receiving FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award. Coyne, who is a professor in the department of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago, is author of Why Evolution is True.

• Steve Trunk, a military veteran, FFRF Board Member and Lifetime Member, receiving FFRF’s Atheist in Foxhole Award as plaintiff in a victorious lawsuit declaring the Mount Soledad cross in San Diego unconstitutional. The checkered challenge has been in the courts since the 1980s, with Steve assuming lead-plaintiff status after the death of the original plaintiff.

• Mitch Kahle, founder of Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church, to be named Freethinker of the Year for persuading his state Senate to drop prayers.

FFRF will arrange for a shuttle and reserve the historic Mark Twain Home and Museum for a staggered group tour on the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 7, before the convention opens, if enough FFRF convention-goers express interest. (The Twain home is not accessible via Hartford’s free shuttle.)

Registration opens late Friday afternoon. The formal program begins at 7 p.m., followed by a dessert reception. Events continue through Saturday night and conclude by noon Sunday morning after membership and Board of Director meetings. If you want to tour the Twain house, plan your itinerary to make time on Friday afternoon.

FFRF convention rates at the Marriott Hartford Downtown 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 (866)373-9806. You may make reservations online at www.Marriott.com.

Rooms are held until Sept. 6 unless filled before. Plan ahead and share a one-way taxi ($36-$44) from the airport. Hotel parking is $19 daily/$23 valet. Union Station is less than a mile from the hotel. The hotel has a Starbucks Café, an Italian restaurant open for breakfast, lunch or dinner, a fitness center and the usual amenities.

Register with FFRF (only $50 per member, $55 per spouse or companion accompanying member, $95 for nonmember) using the handy registration form this page or go online.

The optional Saturday Non-Prayer Breakfast of $25, including 21% gratuity and 6% tax, is scrambled eggs, applewood bacon, roasted potatoes, parmesan-crusted tomato, and coffee or tea. A vegetarian option substitutes fruit for bacon.

Dinner, $45 including service charge and tax, is Andora chicken (herb and white-wine- marinated chicken) or vegetarian strudel (grilled seasonal vegetables layered with chevre in a puff pastry served with red pepper coulis), served with a salad of greens and mozzarella cheese with white balsamic vinegar, rolls, coffee or tea, chef’s choice starch, and chocolate truffle cake with raspberry coulis. Chef’s choice vegan and gluten-free options are available for breakfast and dinner.

Freedom From Religion Foundation