Meet up at FFRF’s 34th Annual Convention in Hartford, Connecticut Oct. 7-9, 2011

The Freedom From Religion Foundation continues to add to its roster of eminent and interesting speakers for its 34th annual national convention Oct. 7-9, 2011, in Hartford, Conn.

Register now for FFRF’s first national convention in the Northeast in many years. The deadline to book hotel rooms at the convention rate of $159 single to quadruple plus tax at the Marriott Hartford Downtown, 200 Columbus Bvd., is Tuesday, Sept. 6 (the day after Labor Day). Phone 1-866-373-9806 (or reserve online requesting the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” Group Block).

Steven Pinker, best-selling author and Harvard University evolutionary biologist, is the latest to sign on for the conference at the Marriott Hartford Downtown. He’ll speak Friday night and sign copies of his new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Declined. Pinker is a previous recipient of Emperor Has No Clothes Award and is an FFRF honorary director.

MacArthur Fellow Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction, will talk on “36 Arguments against the existence of God.” Ms. Goldstein will be named 2012 Freethought Heroine Friday night, and autograph her novel.

Distinguished Broadway composer Charles Strouse (“Bye, Bye, Birdie” and “Annie”), a humanist and freethinker, will make a rare public appearance to accept his Emperor Has No Clothes Award Saturday night. His book is called Put on a Happy Face: A Broadway Memoir.

Strouse is joining well-known freethinking scientist Jerry Coyne, the evolutionary biologist and author of Why Evolution is True, also receiving an Emperor Award.

Youthful activism will be recognized with three awards to courageous student activist honorees.  Jessica Ahlquist, 16, who is suing her Rhode Island school over its promotion of prayer, and high school graduate Harrison Hopkins, who protested prayers at his South Carolina high school, will talk about their activism.

New to the convention roster is Dylan Galos, a graduate student whose “I can be good without God” offering in FFRF’s “Out of the Closet” billboard campaign in Columbus was censored twice before finding a safe home. Dylan also will receive a $1,000 student activist award and speak at the Saturday morning program.

Honor the achievements of Steve Trunk, a Vietnam War veteran and plaintiff in the long-awaited victory to declare unconstitutional the Mount Soledad cross masquerading as a veterans memorial in San Diego. Steve, a Board and Lifetime Member, will receive FFRF’s Atheist in Foxhole Award Saturday afternoon.

FFRF Member Mitch Kahle, whose actions resulted in the Hawaii Senate dropping government prayer, will receive the 2011 Freethinker of the Year award.

FFRF Co-President Dan Barker will entertain at the piano with his irreverent freethought tunes, and FFRF staff will present a short, fun and powerful PowerPoint report of FFRF actions and news coverage. Staff attorney Patrick Elliott will give a brief recap of FFRF’s significant non-litigation work ending many state/church violations around the country.

Also sign up now to tour the fascinating Mark Twain Home and Museum on Friday afternoon. FFRF is offering a shuttle and inexpensive group rate for those who sign up (since the Twain home is off the beaten track). For $16 adult, $14 children, you can ride the shuttle (every half hour, starts at hotel 11:30 am, last ride is from museum at 5:30 p.m.) and do a self-guided tour of the historic home (guides will be posted in rooms to answer questions) and the museum. There is a cafe open till 4 p.m. and a gift shop as well. Museum operators suggest devoting 2 hours. The tour is first-come, first serve to hop on the shuttle so plan ahead. You must pre-register as the museum requires an advance count.

A weekend of serious freethought fun includes the Friday evening complimentary dessert and social, the Saturday morning Non-Prayer Breakfast with its “moment of bedlam,” and the drawing for “clean” (no “In God We Trust”) currency.

FFRF’s annual convention is the best deal in the freethought world — $50 per member, $55 for companion accompanying member, $95 for non-member ( join FFRF for $40, save $5!).

There are two optional group meals, Saturday’s non-prayer breakfast and the Saturday night banquet. Group meals are the best way to meet others. Pinker, Goldstein, Coyne and Strouse are all available to autograph books following their speeches.

Early registration opens at the hotel by 5 p.m. (Friday dinner is on your own) and continues throughout the convention. The convention program begins formally at 7 p.m. Friday with honorees, speeches and dessert, continues all day Saturday, and concludes by Sunday at noon following the annual membership and Board of Director meetings.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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