Freethought Today · June / July 2016

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

FFRF’s 39th annual convention, Oct. 7–9 in Pittsburgh

Set your sights on FFRF's convention

With the Reason Rally now in the rear-view mirror, it's time to turn your freethinking attention to FFRF's annual convention.

With some of the biggest names in freethought set to speak at the 39th annual convention from Oct. 7–9 in downtown Pittsburgh, you don't want to miss out.

And, of course, don't forget about the tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpiece Fallingwater on the first day of the convention. (See below for details.)
FFRF has again collected an impressive list of speakers to inform, educate, entertain and amaze you.

A keynote speaker will be Lawrence Krauss, the internationally known theoretical physicist, author and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University and Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the Physics Department at ASU. Krauss has won numerous international awards for both his research and his efforts to improve the public understanding of science. He is the only physicist to have received the top awards from all three U.S. physics societies, and is the author of nine books including bestsellers The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing. Krauss starred in a feature-length documentary called "The Unbelievers," which followed Krauss and Richard Dawkins around the world as they discussed science and reason.

He will receive the Emperor Has No Clothes Award from FFRF.

Another keynoter will be none other than Daniel Dennett. He, along with Dawkins, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens, have been called the "Four Horsemen of New Atheism." Dennett is co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, is the author of many books, including Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. Dennett said the title of his convention speech will be, "Has the dam broken? Omens and worries."

The newest honoree to the convention lineup of speakers is Rafida Bonya Ahmed, a humanist activist, author and moderator at the award-winning Bengali blog Muktomona. She is the widow of Dr. Avijit Roy, a well-known writer, blogger, and activist who founded Muktomona as an online platform for Bengali-speaking freethinkers. Horrifyingly, Avijit was hacked to death by Islamic militants during a book-signing trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Feb. 26, 2015, and Bonya was gravely injured. She has been working with international and local communities to help Bengali bloggers, intellectuals and activists. She was the keynote speaker for the mini-convention at the Reason Rally on June 5.

Other speakers include:

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, which was a New York Times bestseller. His second book, Faith vs. Fact: Why Science and Religion are Incompatible was published in May 2015. 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.

Susan Jacoby is the author of 11 books, most recently, Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion, which came out in March. 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 is a previous recipient of FFRF's Freethought Heroine Award.

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. After more than 20 years as a journalist, she left reporting to write The Devil in Dover, a book about the Kitzmiller trial and its effects on Dover.

Honoree Marie Schaub is the only named plaintiff in an ongoing case near Pittsburgh. She joined FFRF in 2012 to ask the New Kensington-Arnold School District to remove a 6-foot-tall granite monument depicting a copy of the Ten Commandments that is prominently displayed in front of the public high school her child was scheduled to attend.

FFRF Co-President Dan Barker will speak about his lawsuit against Congress and also about his new book, God: The Most Unpleasant Character in Fiction.

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