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2023 National Convention

 

The 46th Annual Convention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation took place on
October 13–15, 2023 in Madison, Wisconsin.

mainattendees2023convention

 

HIGHLIGHTS VIDEO

 

 

 Photos by Staff Attorney Chris Line and Photographer Kyle Hilker

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View the Complete Convention Photo Gallery Here!

 

FFRF ATTORNEYS & LEGISLATIVE STAFF

FFRF attorneys presenting include:
Legal Director Rebecca Markert, Senior Legal Counsel Patrick Elliott, Associate Counsel Liz Cavell, Intake Attorney Maddy Ziegler. Legislative staff presenting include Governmental Affairs Director Mark Dann and Senior Policy Counsel Ryan Jayne.

 

2023 LEGAL REPORT

 

2023 ANNUAL REPORT

 

AWARD WINNERS

 

bryannabanx

BRYANNA BANX$

Bryanna, in a cameo appearance, introduced one of the two student activist awardees suing over cancellation of a drag show sponsored by student clubs on the West Texas A&M campus. She’s performed for 19 years and won Miss Gay WI USofA 2011 and Miss Club Wisconsin 2018.

 

Marcus Stovall

MARCUS STOVALL

Marcus is 19, and is a junior majoring in political science at West Texas A&M University. He received the Stephen and Diane Uhl “Out of God’s Closet” Student Activist Award of $5,000 as a plaintiff challenging university censorship of 19, a junior majoring in political science at West Texas A&M University, will receive the Stephen and Diane Uhl “Out of God’s Closet” Student Activist Award of $5,000 as a plaintiff challenging university censorship of a secular student club’s drag show benefit. View Marcus's speech here.

 

latinaenvyLATINA ENVY

Latina, in a cameo appearance, introduced one of the two student activist awardees suing over cancellation of a drag show sponsored by student clubs on the West Texas A&M campus. She’s in an all-Latina group with her drag sisters and has performed as a backup dancer at a national pageant with Wisconsin’s 2023 Entertainer of the Year.

 

Bear Bright

BEAR BRIGHT

Bear, 21, is a senior majoring in civil engineering at West Texas A&M University, and received the Richard and Beverly Hermsen Student Activist Award of $5,000 as a student plaintiff challenging university censorship of a secular student club’s drag show benefit. View Bear's speech here.

 

GORDON BROWNGordon Brown

Gordon received FFRF’s “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” award for giving secular invocations before two commissions in Florida this year.

 

 

Jen CastleJEN CASTLE

Jen is the national director of abortion service delivery at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She accepted on behalf of Planned Parenthood the $35,000 Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism Award. View Jen's speech here.

 

KATE COHENKate Cohen

Kate received the Freethought Heroine Award. She is a contributing columnist to the Washington Post, an Emmy Award-winning documentary script writer and author of three books, including the just released We of Little Faith: Why I Stopped Pretending to Believe (And Maybe You Should Too), which she signed.

 

Elie MystalELIE MYSTAL

Elie Mystal, who received FFRF’s Clarence Darrow Award, is a Harvard Law School graduate and Justice Correspondent for The Nation, who signed copies of his bestseller: Allow Me To Retort — A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution.

 
EMILY OLSONEmily Olson

Emily is a business owner and member of the city council in Owosso, Mich., and she received a special “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” Award for attempting to persuade the council to discontinue prayer.

 

Lizz WinsteadLIZZ WINSTEAD

Lizz, a political satirist, received FFRF’s “Emperor Has No Clothes Award.” She was co-creator and head writer of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.” She co-founded Air America Radio, and is a founder of Abortion Access Front, a team of comedians, writers and producers who use humor to destigmatize abortion and expose the extremist forces working to destroy reproductive rights access in all 50 states.

 

Mary ZieglerMARY ZIEGLER

Mary, a noted abortion rights legal expert/advocate and Harvard Law School graduate, received FFRF’s “Forward Award.” The 2023 Guggenheim Fellow has written six books on abortion history and rights and will sign copies of Dollars for Life: The Anti-Abortion Movement and the Fall of the Republican Establishment and Roe: The History of a National Obsession. She is a will sign copies of Dollars for Life: The Anti-Abortion Movement and the Fall of the Republican Establishment and Roe: The History of a National Obsession. She is a law professor at the University of California–Davis.

 

STUDENT ESSAY WINNERS

Three winners from FFRF's annual contests for Black, Indigenous, Students of Color and for ongoing college students — two of FFRF's five annual essay competitions — appeared and read their winning essays.
 
 
 
Luci GreenLUCI GREEN
Luci, 18, is the fourth-place winner in FFRF’s David Hudak essay contest for Black Indigenous Students of Color, attends the University of South Carolina, with plans to major in chemistry.
 
 
Michelle LiaoMICHELLE LIAO
Michelle, 18, placed first in FFRF’s William Schulz essay contest for college-bound high school seniors. She attends the University of Michigan, where she plans to major in psychology and political science.
 
  
Skylar BlumenauerSKYLAR BLUMENAUER
Skylar, 18, won first place in FFRF’s Kenneth Proulx essay contest for ongoing college students. She attends George Washington University with plans to major in political science. View Skylar's speech here.
 
 
 

CHRISTIAN NATIONALISM PANEL

 

samuellperrySAMUEL L. PERRY
(Ph.D., University of Chicago) is professor of sociology at the University of Oklahoma and co-author of the award-winning Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States (with Andrew Whitehead) and The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy (with Philip Gorski), which he’ll be signing.

andrewseidelANDREW SEIDEL
Andrew is VP of Strategic Communications at Americans United, is an attorney and will be signing copies of his books: The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American and American Crusade: How the Supreme Court is Weaponizing Religious Freedom.

Amanda TylerAMANDA TYLER
Amanda received FFRF’s Champion of the First Amendment Award. An attorney, she is executive director of BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty), which upholds the historic Baptist principle of religious liberty and is lead organizer of BJC’s Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign.
 
 
SECULAR LEGISLATIVE PANEL
 
mikefreiberg

MIKE FREIBERG
Mike has been a Minnesota state representative since 2013, after serving on the Golden Valley City Council for nine years. He’s a founding member of the Minnesota Secular Government Caucus. Freiberg works as an attorney for a nonprofit organization committed to improving public health.

 

athenahollinsATHENA HOLLINS
Athena is a Minnesota state representative first elected in 2020. She has a law degree from St. Thomas School of Law, is vice chair of Rules and Legislative Administration and is part of the Minnesota Secular Government Caucus. She represents St. Paul, District 66B.

keldaroys

KELDA ROYS
Kelda was first elected to the Wisconsin state Assembly in 2008. She served as minority caucus chair in 2011 and was elected to the state Senate in 2020. She earned her B.A. in Drama, Politics and Cultural Studies, New York University 2000, and her J.D., magna cum laude, University of Wisconsin Law School, 2004.

 

 

OTHER SPEECHES

jeremiahcamara

JEREMIAH CAMARA
Jeremiah serves on FFRF’s Executive Board. He is an author and the filmmaker of “Contradiction: A Question of Faith” and “Holy Hierarchy: The Religious Roots of Racism in America,” both screening on Amazon. View Jeremiah's speech here.

 
robertpjones

ROBERT P. JONES
Robert is founder and president of Public Religion Research Institute. He is author of White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity and the new The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy and the Path to a Shared American Future and will sign copies.

 

markpocanMARK POCAN
Mark is U.S. Representative for Wisconsin’s 2nd District, FFRF’s home of Madison, Wis. He serves on the House Appropriations Committee and is a member of the Congressional Freethought Caucus, among others. He previously served 14 years in the Wisconsin Assembly and owned a small printing business.

  

 


CLEAN MONEY DRAWING

 

 

WATCH GODLESS GOSPEL'S PERFORMANCE

 

 FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, executive producer.

Andre Forbes, music director.
Songs by Dan and Andre.
Singers include:
Tahira Clayton, jazz vocalist; Candace Gorham, author of The Ebony Exodus Project; Cynthia McDonald, Freedmen of Chicago activist; Heather Kinley, country singer; DeAngela Morant, businesswoman;
Mandisa Thomas, Black Nonbelievers president; Steven Phelps, Nashville Sunday Assembly; Emily Sundin, make-up artist. Keyboard: Andre Forbes. Drums: Charles Wilson. Bass: Amos Perry. Organ: Aaron Hill.