Freethinking Reagan headlines national FFRF gathering



The 10 most terrifying words in all of Christendom: “Ron Reagan, lifelong atheist, not afraid of burning in hell.” Talk about mourning in America, at least in red-state America.

It’s a sure bet you’ll hear those terrifying words the weekend of Oct. 9-11 in Madison, Wis., when Ronald Prescott Reagan, son of the former president, keynotes the 38th national convention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. They’re part of FFRF’s national ad campaign, an ad that was banned by ABC, NBC and CBS because, apparently, real Americans should all fear the loving god of eternal hellfire.

Joining Reagan at the podium will be freethinking Nebraska state Sen. Ernie Chambers, who at age 78 is still legislating. (His name is on the landmark 1983 Supreme Court case Marsh v. Chambers.) He’ll receive FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award, bestowed on individuals who “tell it like it is” regarding religion.

Another Emperor Award recipient will be Taslima Nasrin, a Bangladeshi physician, author and religious skeptic who has lived for 20 years under the threat of death from an Islamic fatwa (basically a bounty on her head). FFRF wired $20,000 to her in March to help her relocate to the U.S.

Kevin Kruse, the Princeton University professor of history whose new book is “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America,” will also address the convention, as will Rita Swan, Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty founder. Swan will receive an FFRF Lifetime Achievement Award. She founded CHILD in 1983 with the goal of ending child abuse and neglect related to religion, cultural practices or quackery such as relying on faith healing and eschewing modern medicine. She and her husband, who were Christian Scientists, had lost their son Matthew, who died at 16 months in 1977 of untreated bacterial meningitis.

Dan Barker, FFRF co-president, will speak about his newest book, “Life-Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning,” as well as offer his engaging, irreverent brand of musical entertainment.

Many other freethinkers will speak, including former Madison city alder Anita Weier, who introduced a historic ordinance to make “nonreligion” a protected class. Jeremiah Camara will speak on his documentary on black freethought and humanism titled “Contradiction: A Question of Faith,” which will receive several screenings.

For a full schedule and registration and room reservation information, go to or call 1-800-335-4021 from 9-5 Central Time weekdays.

FFRF, with more than 23,000 dues-paying members nationwide, is the largest U.S. association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics and religious skeptics). It holds its national convention every third year in its home base of Madison.

The venue is the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, first proposed and designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1938. It didn’t open until 1997, 38 years after Wright’s death. It’s a stunning building with a panoramic view of Lake Monona, parts of downtown, Madison’s near-east side and the State Capitol. A rooftop garden area includes a memorial to singer Otis Redding, whose plane went down in the lake on Dec. 10, 1967, killing Redding and six others.

The convention will commence with a grand opening Friday morning to celebrate the Freethought Hall expansion and will include champagne, brunch pastries and some surprise unveilings.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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