Hundreds of freethinkers interested in state/church separation will be gathering on Sept. 27-28 for the 36th annual Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) convention at the Concourse Hotel in Madison.
Headliners this year include Dan Savage, an American author, media pundit, activist and newspaper editor. He writes the internationally syndicated relationship and sex advice column, "Savage Love." Savage will be accepting the FFRF's Emperor Has No Clothes Award, an honor reserved for those who "tell it like it is" in regards to religion. Savage and his husband Terry Miller are famous for founding the It Gets Better Project, an initiative to prevent suicide and bullying of gay teen. His most recently published book is titled "American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love and Politics." Savage will be available to sign books.
Other famous faces include singer/songwriter Jill Sobule, who is best known for her 1995 single, "I Kissed a Girl" and "Supermodel" from the soundtrack of the 1995 film "Clueless." Actress/comedian Julia Sweeney is famous for her roles on "Saturday Night Live" and her autobiographical solo shows such as "God Said Ha!" The pair met in 2008 and frequently collaborate, such as in the "Jill and Julia Show." The pair will be sharing songs, comedic improvisations and commentary. Both will also be available to sign their CDs.
Sara Paretsky, an ardent supporter of separation of state and church and women's reproductive rights, will be accepting our Freethought Heroine Award followed by a book-signing. Paretsky is the creator of the famous V.I. Warshawski detective book series and has been a contributor to The New York Times and The Guardian. Her memoir, "Writing in the Age of Silence," chronicles her journey from Kansas farm girl to New York Times best-selling author.
Other speakers include journalist Jamila Bey, first amendment plaintiff Ellery Schempp, retired attorney Jim McCollum, activist Zack Kopplin and FFRF's own Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker.
The convention will include workshops with FFRF staff attorneys, complimentary dessert receptions, plentiful hors d'oeuvres and the showing of the film "The Lord Is Not on Trial Here Today" introduced by filmmaker Jay Rosenstein. Dan Barker will be performing alongside Shelley Segal after the banquet dinner. Convention attendees might also enjoy the sacrilegious Saturday Non-Prayer Breakfast. This breakfast will include the "Moment of Bedlam" instead of the "Moment of Silence" where participants will make a ruckus for freethought.
-Compiled by Lauryn Seering