42nd FFRF Annual National Convention - October 18-20, 2019
Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, Madison, WI

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Speakers

More speakers coming soon! 

FREDERICK CLARKSON

photo of Frederick ClarksonFrederick Clarkson is a Senior Research Analyst at Political Research Associates, a progressive think tank in Somerville, Massachusetts. He is the author, co-author or editor of several books, including Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy and Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America. He has written about politics and religion for a wide range of publications for more than three decades, from Mother Jones, Church & State, and Ms. Magazine to The Christian Science Monitor and Salon.com. Last year in Religion Dispatches, he broke the story about Project Blitz, a Christian Right state legislative campaign with long range theocratic intentions. The late author and Southern raconteur Joe Bageant, wrote, “Fred Clarkson, a New England Yankee with a streak of liberty a mile wide, has been thinking and writing about this longer than anybody I know.”


TRAE CROWDER

Recently earning national attention (or notoriety, depending on your viewpoint) forRecently earning national attention (or notoriety, depending on your viewpoint) for his “Liberal Redneck” series of viral videos, Trae Crowder has been performing hisparticular brand of Southern-fried intellectual comedy in the Southeast and beyond for the past six years. Trae’s videos have received over 70 million views online. He is coming off an 80+ citysold-out standup comedy tour in support of his best-selling book Liberal Redneck Manifesto: Draggin Dixie Outta the Dark. You've seen him on Nightline (ABC), Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO), The View, Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell (MSNBC), NPR, WTF with Marc Maron. And ATTN:. He will be receiving FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award.


WENDY DAVIS

Davis, who catapulted into national prominence in 2013 when she held a 13-hour filibuster to protect women’s reproductive freedoms in Texas, will receive FFRF’s 2019 Forward Award. The award recognized those who are moving society forward. Davis, raised by a single mother, herself a mother by 19, became the first in her family to graduate from college, ultimately graduating with honors from Harvard Law School. Elected to the texas state Senate in 2008, she championed public schools, government transparency and women’s rights. In 2016, Davis founded Deeds Not Words, a nonprofit to empower young women.


RACHEL LASER

1Rachel AU Headshot r1Rachel Laser is the President and CEO at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU). She is a lawyer, advocate and strategist who has dedicated her career to making our country more inclusive. She has a proven track record of uniting both faith and secular leaders and advocacy organizations to make tangible progress on some of the most important issues of our time. And as a religious minority – she was raised as a Reform Jew –  she understands personally how much it matters that our laws treat everyone fairly and equally. She is an advocate for racial justice and has led workshops, given speeches and worked with schools and universities to challenge racism and expose privilege. Prior to assuming her role at AU, she served as the deputy director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC), directed the Culture Program at Third Way, a Washington D.C., progressive think tank and worked as senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). She also serves as a national board member of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Rachel will be accepting the $10,000 Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism Award on behalf of Americans United for the Separation of Church & State.


Anthony B. Pinn

AnthonyPinnHeadshotAnthony B. Pinn received his BA from Columbia University, Master of Divinity and PhD in the study of religion from Harvard University. He is currently the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and professor of religion at Rice University. Pinn is the founding director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning also at Rice University. In addition, he is Director of Research for the Institute for Humanist Studies – a Washington, DC-based think tank. Pinn’s research interests include humanism and hip hop culture. His honors and awards include the African American Humanist Award from the Council for Secular Humanism (1999); Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association Humanist of the Year (2017), and the Harvard University Humanist Association Humanist of the Year (2006). He is the author/editor of over 35 books, including When Colorblindness Isn’t the Answer: Humanism and the Challenge of Race (2017); Humanism: Essays in Race, Religion, and Cultural Production (2015); Writing God’s Obituary: How a Good Methodist Became a Better Atheist (2014); Dale McGowan and Anthony B. Pinn, editors. Everyday Humanism, Equinox (2014); African American Humanist Principles: Living and Thinking Like the Children of Nimrod (2004), and the novel, The New Disciples (2015). He will be receiving FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award.


Andrew Seidel

AndrewSeidelHeadshotAndrew L. Seidel is an attorney and author. He is the Director of Strategic Response at FFRF, where he uses his law degree to challenge religious bullies. Andrew's first book The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American features a foreword by author Susan Jacoby and a preface by FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. The Founding Myth comes out in May and is highly anticipated with positive reviews by many, including evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne ("Seidel has done a great service, strengthening Jefferson’s wall between church and state") and renowned constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky who described it as "a beautifully written book" that "explodes a frequently expressed myth: that the United States was created as a Christian nation." When not fighting for the First Amendment, Andrew writes for ThinkProgress, Religion News Service, Rewire News and FFRF at Freethought Now! He also appears on FFRF's podcasts and shows, and has debated religion and government on outlets such as MSNBC and Fox News.


Mandisa Thomas

Mandisa Thomas 700pxMandisa Thomas is the founder and President of Black Nonbelievers. She has a number of media appearances to her credit, including CBS Sunday Morning, CNN.com, and Playboy, The Humanist and JET magazines. She has been a guest on podcasts such as The Humanist Hour and Ask an Atheist, as well as the documentaries Contradiction and My Week in Atheism. Mandisa currently serves on the Boards for American Atheists and the Reason Rally Coalition, and previously for Foundation Beyond Belief and the Secular Coalition for America. Additionally, Mandisa was named the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association’s 2018 Person of the Year. As President of Black Nonbelievers, Mandisa works to encourage more Blacks to come out and stand strong with their nonbelief in the face of such strong religious overtones. Mandisa will be named FFRF’s 2019 Freethought Heroine.


sARAH VOWELL

Sarah Vowell 01Sarah Vowell is the New York Times bestselling author of seven nonfictions books on American history and culture. By examining the connections between the American past and present, she offers personal, often humorous accounts of everything from presidents and their assassins to colonial religious fanatics. Sarah Vowell is the New York Times bestselling author of seven nonfictions books on American history and culture. By examining the connections between the American past and present, she offers personal, often humorous accounts of everything from presidents and their assassins to colonial religious fanatics. Vowell was a contributing editor for the public radio show This American Life from 1996-2008. She was one of the original contributors to McSweeney’s, also participating in many of the quarterly’s readings and shows. She has been a columnist for Salon.com, Time, San Francisco Weekly, and is a contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times. Vowell has made numerous appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She is the voice of teen superhero Violet Parr in Brad Bird’s Academy Award-winning The Incredibles, and its sequel, Incredibles 2, from Pixar Animation Studios. 


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