Outreach & Events - Freedom From Religion Foundation


%250 %America/Chicago, %2016 Written by

NC Pittsburgh Full



Registration deadline for the convention is Friday, September 30. Registration deadline for Fallingwater tour is Friday, September 23. You can register at the door, but this does not include meals.

Check out all that Pittsburgh has to offer

By Kim and Stephen Hirtle

FFRF is bringing this year's convention to Pittsburgh, Pa., on the weekend of Oct. 7–9, a city that has been garnering national and international attention for its quality of life and unique features.

Recent accolades for Pittsburgh:

  • Listed as one of the best places in the world to visit (Travel + Leisure).
  • Rated as the No. 1 food city in 2015 (Zagat).
  • Offers America's most stunning views (USA Today).
  • Listed as the "coolest American city you haven't been to" (Huffington Post).

Pittsburgh, with a population slightly more than 300,000, is also known for having more bridges than any city in the world, including Venice. The three main rivers — Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio — join downtown at Point State Park. Two inclines (funicular railways) dating back to the late 1800s take tourists and commuters up the side of Mount Washington, just as they did when steel was the main industry.

Downtown Pittsburgh, where the FFRF convention will be held, is known for its striking and varied architecture, notable restaurants and cultural amenities. The Andy Warhol Museum (named for a Pittsburgh native) and the Carnegie Science Center are just across the river on the North Shore. The Carnegie Natural History and Carnegie Art Museums are housed together, a short taxi or bus ride away, in the Oakland neighborhood, which is also home to Phipps Conservatory and two world class institutions: the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie-Mellon University.

Across the street from the Cathedral of Learning is the Carnegie Natural History Museum, known for one the largest collections of dinosaur fossils in the world, including the Diplodocus Carnegii, named in honor of Pittsburgh native and freethinker Andrew Carnegie.
For those seeking outdoor activities, there are bike rental locations downtown, with bike trails throughout the city and along the rivers. Kayak Pittsburgh operates on weekends in October, just a short walk from the hotel, and for a modest fee, you can get out on the Allegheny River for an hour or two of exercise with excellent views of the skyline and stadiums.

FFRF visitors are encouraged to check out Market Square, a large European-style plaza surrounded by 14 restaurants near the hotel.

Those coming to the conference a day early will have the opportunity to visit Fallingwater. Considered to be the most iconic of all of Frank Lloyd Wright's designs, the house was built on top of natural waterfall.

Stephen Hirtle is chair of the FFRF Executive Board and professor of Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh.

%250 %America/Chicago, %2016

Fallingwater Tour

Written by

NC Pittsburgh Full


Pre-registration now closed. 

If you pre-registered for the tour, FFRF has sent, via USPS, your confirmation, including bus assignment, departure time and tour time. You can also pick up your tour itinerary/ticket 15 minutes before your tour departure time on Friday, October 7, in the Liberty Entrance of the Wyndham. Buses also depart and return there. 

After the tour of Fallingwater, there will be a reception from 3-5 p.m. with workshops and complimentary appetizers. Friday dinner is on your own. The formal program begins at 7 p.m. Friday, ending with complimentary dessert and hot beverages. The convention resumes Saturday morning with an optional Non-Prayer Breakfast at 8 a.m. The morning program starts at 9:30 a.m. After a two-hour lunch on your own, the program resumes at 2 p.m. An optional dinner banquet will be followed by evening speaker/entertainment. Annual meetings of the membership and the state representatives are Sunday morning, ending by noon. 

Tour buses will depart and drop off at the Liberty entrance.


Photo: Courtesy of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.


Friday, prior to the start of the convention, FFRF is hosting a tour of the impressive Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Fallingwater site. The $40 ticket includes admission to Fallingwater and round-trip coach bus transportation. There is also an optional, although highly recommended, box lunch available for $12. (The cafeteria is expected to be too busy to accommodate FFRF on this tight schedule.) The 43-mile route to the captivating Fallingwater is through scenic Pennsylvania countryside during the most beautiful time of the year. Buses depart from Wyndham Grand every 30 minutes beginning 7:50 a.m., with returns beginning 2:10 p.m. 

Extra rooms have been set aside at the Wyndham Grand for FFRF members for Thursday night for those interested in going on the tour. FFRF will provide tour times, tickets and other information with mailed convention registration confirmation. 

Important Visitor Guidelines

Site Challenges

The tour involves considerable walking and there are challenges on site, including 100 steps (not all at once) and uneven gravel paths on a 1/4 mile walk from the Visitor Center to the house. If you have concerns about mobility, vision or hearing challenges, please read the following details.

For more details about getting the most out of your visit, please see the Fallingwater website .

Check back soon for updates! Register today!

%291 %America/Chicago, %2016


Written by

NC Pittsburgh Full


Registration deadline for the convention is Friday, September 30. Registration deadline for Fallingwater tour is Friday, September 23. You can register at the door, but this does not include meals.

Saturday’s Non-Prayer Breakfast ($30): Scrambled eggs, applewood smoked bacon, chef’s home fried cottage potatoes, muffins and danishes, freshly squeezed orange juice, freshly brewed Starbucks coffee, decaffeinated coffee and a selection of specialty teas. Vegan/vegetarian entree option: Scrambled vegetable and tofu with roasted tomato and cottage potatoes.

Saturday’s banquet dinner ($45): Field greens with grape tomato, Kalamata olives, English cucumber and balsamic dressing, dinner rolls and butter, herb grilled chicken with basil cream sauce, chef’s selection of starch and chef’s selection of seasonal vegetable. Vegan/vegetarian entree option: Tuscan grilled vegetable stack with white and black bean ragout with tomato coulis.

Dessert is New York cheesecake with fresh strawberries.

There is a place on the registration form to indicate whether you need gluten-free meals.

Pittsburgh sights and restaurants

Check back soon for updates! Register today!

%250 %America/Chicago, %2016


Written by

NC Pittsburgh Full


Registration deadline for the convention is Friday, September 30. Registration deadline for Fallingwater tour is Friday, September 23. You can register at the door, but this does not include meals.

Friday, October 7

Please pick up tickets for Fallingwater tour at the Liberty Entrance (lobby level) 15 minutes before your assigned departure time.

2:00 PM
Registration opens and continues through Sat.
Kings Landing, off Grand Ballroom Foyer

Sales tables open
Grand Ballroom 1

3:00 – 5:00
Complimentary reception with appetizers, tea, coffee
Kings Garden 4–5 (cash bar)

3:00 – 4:00, repeats 4:00 – 5:00
Legal Accomplishments Workshop
FFRF Staff Attorneys Elizabeth Cavell, Patrick Elliott & Rebecca Markert
Grand Ballroom 1

3:00 – 4:00, repeats 4:00 – 5:00
"Is Christianity Un-American?"
FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel
Kings Garden 2

Dinner break, on your own, ballroom stays open

Evening Program - All events held in Grand Ballrooom 1, unless otherwise noted.

7:00 PM
Opening & Music
FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker & Annie Laurie Gaylor

Nothing Fails Like Prayer Award
David Williamson & brief remarks

Freedom From Fundamentalism Award
presented by Henry H. Zumach

"Not So Caught in the Pulpit"
Linda LaScola

Clergyman comes out as atheist
"Adam Mann"

Emperor Has No Clothes Award
"Turning Metaphysics into Physics"
Lawrence Krauss

Book signings for LaScola and Krauss to follow

Complimentary desserts, coffee, tea

Kings Garden 4–5

Saturday, October 8

All Saturday events held in Grand Ballroom 1, unless otherwise noted.

8:00 AM
Nonprayer Breakfast (For ticket holders)
Kings Garden 4–5

Welcome & Highlights of FFRF Year Report
FFRF Directors Lisa Strand, Dan Barker & Annie Laurie Gaylor

Nothing Fails Like Prayer Award
Aleta Ledenbecker

Pittsburgh Welcome
Professor Stephen Hirtle

Atheist in Foxhole Courage Award
Marie Schaub

Freethought Heroine Award
"The Devil in Dover"
Lauri Lebo

"Forward" Award
Rafida Bonya Ahmed

Booksigning for Lebo to follow

Noon – 2:00 PM
Lunch on your own & sightseeing break. Ballroom reopens 1:30 PM

Nothing Fails Like Prayer Award
Justin Scott & brief remarks

"GOD: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction"
Dan Barker

Michael Hakeem Memorial Winner "An Unapologetic Black Atheist"
Student Honoree Nadia Duncan

"Sick and Tired of 'God Bless America' "
Susan Jacoby

"Evolution & Atheism: Best Friends Forever"
Jerry Coyne

Book signings for Coyne, Jacoby & Barker to follow in Ballroom Foyer

6:30 PM
Banquet Dinner (For ticket-holders)
Grand Ballroom 1 (cash bar)

Nothing Fails Like Prayer Award
David Suhor

Drawing for "Clean" Money

"The Singing Atheist"
Dan Barker at the piano

"Has the Dam Broken? Omens and Worries"
Daniel Dennett

Book signing for Dennett to follow

Sunday, October 9

All Sunday events held in Kings Garden 4–5
Room opens at 8:30 AM with pastries, coffee & tea

9:00 AM
Annual Business Meeting
Open to current FFRF members

Annual State Representatives Meeting

Adjourn by Noon

%291 %America/Chicago, %2016


Written by

NC Pittsburgh Full


Registration deadline for the convention is Friday, September 30. Registration deadline for Fallingwater tour is Friday, September 23. You can register at the door, but this does not include meals.

(The following speakers will be signing copies of their books during the convention.) More speakers coming soon!


Rafida Bonya Ahmed is a humanist activist, author and moderator of the award-winning Bengali blog, Muktomona. She is the widow of activist Avijit Roy, a well-known Bengladesh-American atheist activist and writer, who was killed in a horrifying attack by radical Islamists in Dhaka on Feb. 26, 2015. She was critically wounded in the attack, but survived, and has been carrying on their secular work. She has a daughter, Trisha, in college. Following the attack, she left her job at a tech company in Atlanta to enroll in a Master’s program at the University of Texas-Austin. She helps operate the blog, Mukto-Mona (Free Thinker) started by Roy, and helps others in peril. She has received several international awards.


1BarkerColorDAN BARKER

FFRF co-president, who will speak on his newest book, released this year by Sterling Press, GOD: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction, inspired by a line in Richard Dawkins’ God Delusion, with a foreword by Dawkins. Dan will be on hand to sign copies (donating royalties) and entertain with some irreverent ditties on the piano.



Jerry A. Coyne, professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, who has written 119 scientific papers and 150 popular articles, book reviews, and columns, and a trade book about the evidence for evolution—Why Evolution is True, a New York Times bestseller. Coyne plans to speak on the topic of “Evolution and Atheism: Best Friends Forever.” He previously was honored with FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award, is an honorary director and will sign copies of Why Evolution is True, and his newest book, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible.



Daniel Dennett, one of the so-called “Four Horsemen of New Atheism,” and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, will speak on “Has the dam broken? Omens and worries.” Dennett, an honorary director, received FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award in 2005. Dennett will sign copies of his book, including Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.



nadiaduncanNadia Duncan was the winner of this year College Essay Contest for Freethinkers of Color. She is from Vienna, Va., and is a student at SUNY Purchase College.



Susan Jacoby, author of 11 books, most recently, Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion, which came out this March, and will sign books at the conference. Her articles have appeared frequently in the op-ed pages of The New York Times, including one in February, “Sick and Tired of ‘God Bless America.’ Jacoby, an honorary director, is a previous recipient of FFRF’s Freethought Heroine Award.



Lawrence Krauss, theoretical physicist and author and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University. An atheist, he has won numerous international awards for both his research and his efforts to improve the public understanding of science. He is also the author of nine books, including bestsellers The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing. Krauss will be honored with this year’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award and will do a booksigning.



Linda LaScola is co-author, with Daniel C. Dennett, of Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind (2013) and Preachers who are not Believers (2010). She is also editor of the Patheos blog, “Rational Doubt: with voices from the Clergy Project,” and is a co-founder of the Clergy Project.



Lauri Lebo is an author, radio station owner and former reporter from Harrisburg, Pa., where she was the principal local reporter covering the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial in 2004-05 while working for the York Daily Record. She was featured prominently in the Nova documentary Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, both because of her coverage and because her father, who owned Christian radio station WWII-AM in Harrisburg, sided with the Dover School Board in the controversy. Lebo will be presented with FFRF’s Freethought Heroine Award, and will sign copies of her book, The Devil in Dover.



Marie Schaub is a plaintiff in FFRF’s suit over a Ten Commandments monument in Pennsylvania's New Kensington-Arnold School District. The case has been appealed after a judge ruled that Schaub and her daughter did not have standing. Marie is the only publicly-named plaintiff in the case, has been vilified, and will be honored with FFRF’s Atheist in Foxhole Courage Award.


hankzumackHANK ZUMACH

Henry (Hank) Zumach is an avid activist for freethought and separation of church/state issues.  He has taken leadership in organizing a group of plaintiffs for a FFRF federal lawsuit and in starting the 150 member La Crosse (Wisconsin) Area Freethought Society.  At 74 years of age he hopes to create a lasting legacy by establishing the annual Zumach Award for the organization or individual that is judged to have done the most to diminish the influence of fundamentalist religion.



The following activists will receive FFRF’s Nothing Fails Like Prayer award, including a plaque, $500 and will deliver their secular invocation at the convention:


AletaLedendeckerAleta Ledendecker is retired from nearly 40 years as a Montessori teacher and school administrator. She is a founding member of the Rationalists of East Tennessee and has served as secretary for that organization for many years. She is also a Secular Humanist Celebrant though the Humanist Society and performs weddings, memorials and funerals. Aleta is a Lifetime Member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.



Justin Scott is an atheist activist from Iowa who challenged presidential candidates during the Iowa Caucus. The videos of his exchanges went viral over social media — his "Pastor in Chief" question to Marco Rubio was seen more than 15 million times — and were reported on many news organizations, including FoxNews, ABC News, CBS News, The Washington Post and Time magazine. He also represented American Atheists at CPAC, assisted with the Ark Encounter protest in Kentucky, challenged Iowa Governor's "99-County Bible Reading Marathon" and successfully obtained "Day of Reason" proclamations in two of Iowa's largest cities. He is the director of the Eastern Iowa Atheists and serves as communication chair for the Secular Coalition for Iowa.”


david-suhorDAVID SUHOR

David Suhor is a musician, activist, teacher and co-founder of The Satanic Temple West Florida. He is also a plaintiff in FFRF’s lawsuit against the city of Pensacola for the exclusive display of the “Bayiew Cross,” a huge Latin cross in a local public park.



DavidWilliamsonDavid Williamson is a state/church activist and community organizer in Central Florida. He, along with his wife, Jocelyn, founded the Central Florida Freethought Community, FFRF’s only chapter in Florida. David is on the Advisory Board for the Center for Freethought Equality and co-chairs the Florida Humanist Association’s state conference, FREEFLO. He is a certified Humanist celebrant, having been ordained by the Humanist Society to serve as an ambassador of humanism, ceremony officiant, and scholar of humanism.” He will be receiving a “Nothing Fails Like Prayer Award” for a secular invocation and giving an update on FFRF’s and Central Florida Freethought Community’s litigation with AU and ACLU over censorship of a secular invocation in Brevard County, Fla.




Elizabeth Cavell earned her degree from Tulane University Law School in 2009 and joined FFRF’s staff in 2013. Patrick Elliott earned his law degree from the Wisconsin Law School in 2009 and joined the  staff in 2010. Rebecca Markert, senior staff attorney and managerial attorney, graduated from Roger Williams University of Law I’m 2008 and became FFRF’s first staff attorney that year. Andrew Seidel earned his law degree from Tulane University Law School in 2009, then a Masters of Law at Denver University Sturm College of Law in 2010. and joined the staff in 2011.

Check back soon for updates! Register today!




%291 %America/Chicago, %2016

Map & Directions

Written by

Check back soon for updates! Register today!

%291 %America/Chicago, %2016

Convention Site

Written by

more information coming soon

%291 %America/Chicago, %2016

Hotel Site

Written by

NC Pittsburgh Full


Registration deadline for the convention is Friday, September 30. Registration deadline for Fallingwater tour is Friday, September 23. You can register at the door, but this does not include meals.

Transportation To & From Airport

Both the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown and the Westin Convention Center Hotel are about 17 miles from the Pittsburgh International Airport. There is an airport shuttle bus that provides convenient transportation between downtown hotels and Pittsburgh International Airport. The shuttle runs 24 hours a day and advance reservations are required. Please call 1-800-258-3826, or visit www.supershuttle.com to make your reservation. Cost is $24 for a one-way trip and $46 for a round trip. Other transportation options from the airport can be found here: http://www.pitairport.com/public_transportation

Shuttle Services From Hotel

The Wyndham and Westin Convention Center Hotels have a scheduled shuttle services that must be booked with the respective hotel staff. Wyndham’s shuttle will take you anywhere within three miles of the hotel, while the Westin’s service area is 1 mile (will take you to the Wyndham).

Convention Site Parking

The Wyndham offers valet parking on a first-come-first-served basis and starts at $30 per night with unlimited in and out privileges. The Westin offers valet parking at $26 per night and self-parking at $22 per night, both with in and out privileges. An interactive map with self-parking options and rates in the downtown area is available here: http://www.downtownpittsburgh.com/getting-around/parking/parking-map


#FFRFCon2016. Follow us @FFRF.

Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown - SOLD OUT for most dates in our block. 
600 Commonwealth Pl.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

You may want to call the hotel in case of cancellations. Room rates for FFRF guests are $159 single or double occupancy. Phone 412-391-4600 (direct) or 888-317-0197 (toll-free). Refer to the group name “Freedom From Religion Foundation” to receive the guest rate. 

Additional Info: 

The Westin Convention Center Hotel
Location .9 miles from the Wyndham
1000 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Reservations: 866-716-8108

A small number of rooms (single or double occupancy) are available at the $159 convention rate for October 5-7. (For three or more guests, add $20 per person.) Unfortunately, Saturday is sold out. Please check with the hotel for availability at other rates. Check-in/check-out is 4 pm/Noon.

You may wish to check Hotels.com, Travelocity, other online travel sites or a local travel agent for other hotel availability. Our apologies for the inconvenience.

%291 %America/Chicago, %2015

National Convention

Written by

NC Pittsburgh Full


Register now for FFRF’s 39th national convention in Pittsburgh


You aren't going to want to miss the 2016 FFRF national convention in Pittsburgh held the weekend of Oct. 7-9! 

Registration deadline for the convention is Friday, September 30. Registration deadline for Fallingwater tour is Friday, September 23. You can register at the door, but this does not include meals.

The national convention, hosted at the Wyndham Grand hotel in downtown Pittsburgh, will include such notable speakers as cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett, award-winning author Susan Jacoby, biology professor Jerry Coyne and theoretical physicist and author Lawrence Krauss.

After eight years as a closeted atheist in the Bible Belt, a former conservative pastor will be coming out publicly at the convention. "Adam Mann" is co-founder of The Clergy Project, a group for current and former religious professionals without supernatural beliefs. Media outlets are interested in covering Mann's announcement.

Another co-founder of the Clergy Project who will speak at the convention is Linda LaScola. She is co-author, with Dennett, of Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind and Preachers Who Are Not Believers. She is also editor of the Patheos blog, "Rational Doubt: With voices from the Clergy Project." Linda is a clinical social worker with years of professional experience as a qualitative researcher and psychotherapist.

The Clergy Project was also founded by FFRF's Dan Barker and Dennett, who will be one of the convention's keynote speakers. His Saturday night speech is titled, "Has the dam broken? Omens and worries."

Friday night's keynote speaker will be Krauss, the internationally known theoretical physicist. He will receive the Emperor Has No Clothes award from FFRF.

Jacoby is the author of 11 books, most recently, Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion. Jacoby is a previous recipient of FFRF's Freethought Heroine award. Coyne is professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. He has written 119 scientific papers and 150 popular articles, book reviews and a trade book about the evidence for evolution — Why Evolution is True.

Humanist activist Rafida Bonya Ahmed, who survived a machete attack in Bangladesh, will receive FFRF's new "Forward" award. Author Lauri Lebo, who covered the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial, will be named 2016 Freethought Heroine. Marie Schaub will speak after being honored as an "atheist in a foxhole" by FFRF for her work as plaintiff in a case against a school district for having a granite Ten Commandments monument in front of a high school. FFRF College essay contest winner Nadia Duncan will also speak.

And, of course, FFRF's Barker will take to the podium to discuss his lawsuit against Congress and his new book, God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction.

And before you get to see and listen to all these great speakers, don't forget about the tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater on Friday. It's a great way to kick off convention weekend!

For more information on convention specifics, click on these links.


%291 %America/Chicago, %2015

Convention Site

Written by

National Convention 2015 Web

MONONA TERRACE - 1 John Nolen Dr, Madison, WI 53703


Frank Lloyd Wright originally proposed a design for a “dream civic center” in 1938. His architectural vision for the City of Madison – a curvilinear gathering place that would link the shore of Lake Monona to the State Capitol – has now been realized. With interiors redesigned by Taliesin architect Tony Puttnam, Monona Terrace spans ninety feet out over shimmering waters, incorporating thoroughly modern technology and amenities with the architect´s signature organic design.

Monona Terrace offers a full range of amenities such as:

  • Wireless Internet Access
  • Courtesy In-House Phones
  • Pay Phones
  • Food and Beverage Service
  • Telephone and Electrical Services
  • Audiovisual and Sound Services
  • Event/Facility Security
  • Guest Service Greeters
  • Badge Checkers
  • Internal Event Posting Monitors & Outdoor Marquee
  • Coat/Luggage Check
  • Baby Changing Facilities
  • Ample Restrooms on All Levels
  • ATM Machine
  • Concessions


Parking at Monona Terrace is $1.50 per hour up to a maximum of $12 for daily parking. 


Level 1 - Lakeside


Level 2 - Mezzanine


Level 4 - Meeting Rooms & Grand Terrace


Level 5 - William T. Evjue Rooftop Gardens  




FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

Contribute to Nonbelief Relief

FFRF privacy statement