Great speakers, cruise highlight weekend events
FFRF's 40th national convention will feature several high-profile personalities, including Steven Pinker, Maryam Namazie and Michelle Goldberg, with more to be announced later.
The convention will be the weekend of Sept. 15-17 at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, Wis.
See the back page for the registration form. Early sign-ups get discounted rates!
Steven Pinker, FFRF's honorary president, is a cognitive scientist, psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.
He is one of the world's foremost writers on language, mind and human nature. Pinker has also taught at Stanford and MIT. He has also received eight honorary doctorates, several teaching awards at MIT and Harvard, and numerous prizes for his books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate and The Better Angels of Our Nature. He has been named Humanist of the Year, received FFRF's Emperor Has No Clothes Award and is among Prospect magazine's "The World's Top 100 Public Intellectuals," Foreign Policy's "100 Global Thinkers," and Time magazine's "The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today."
Roy Zimmerman is an American satirical singer-songwriter and guitarist with a repertoire of irreverent songs.
He wrote a series of satirical musical reviews in the 1980s that were produced by the San Jose Repertory Theatre. The musicals parodied the excesses of the evolving yuppie culture in Silicon Valley.
Zimmerman founded The Foremen, a Southern California satirical folk quartet. It performed at the national conventions of both major American political parties in 1996. Continuing as a solo act, Zimmerman explained the philosophy behind writing and performing humorous songs on increasingly political subjects: "There's nothing funny about world peace. Social justice never killed at the Comedy Store. If we ever attain a worldwide consciousness of peace and justice, I'll be happily out of a job. But as long as there's poverty, war, bigotry, ignorance, greed, lust and paranoia, I've got a career."
Maryam Namazie is an Iranian-born secularist and human rights activist, commentator and broadcaster. She is spokesperson for Iran Solidarity, One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.
London-based Namazie was born in Tehran, but left with her family in 1980 after the 1979 revolution in Iran. Namazie first worked with Ethiopian refugees in Sudan. In the United States in 1991, she became the co-founder of the Committee for Humanitarian Assistance to Iranian Refugees (CHAIR).
She specializes in challenging cultural relativism and political Islam. These activities were recognized by the National Secular Society with the 2005 Secularist of the Year award. She is the spokesperson for Fitnah – Movement for Women's Liberation, One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. She is humanist laureate at the International Academy of Humanism; National Secular Society Honorary Associate; Honorary Associate of Rationalist International, among others.
She will be receiving the Henry H. Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism award of $10,000.
Michelle Goldberg is an author and columnist for Slate. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
Goldberg's first book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, was a finalist for the 2007 New York Public Library's Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. In 2009, she published The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World, which is based on her reporting about the state of women's reproductive rights across several continents.
In 2008, The Means of Reproduction won the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.
Her work has also appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Glamour, Rolling Stone, The Nation New York, The Guardian (UK) and New Republic. Goldberg has taught at NYU's Graduate School of Journalism and lectured throughout the United States and in Europe.
Reserve rooms now! FFRF is offering convention blocks at three hotels this year to accommodate even more registrants!
Hilton Madison Monona Terrace, 9 E. Wilson Street, is the official convention hotel and closest to Monona Terrace. Rooms are $183 (single/double/triple/quad). Call 608-255-5100 to make a reservation for the "Freedom From Religion Foundation" group rate.
Best Western Plus Inn on the Park, 22 S. Carroll Street, is right on the Capitol Square, newly remodeled, and just 0.3 miles from Monona Terrace — about a six-minute walk. Rooms are $189 (one bed for 1-2 people), $209 for 2 beds (1-4 people), or $249 for suites. Call toll-free 800-279-8811 or local 608-285-8000 to reserve rooms in the "Freedom From Religion Foundation 2017 Block."
Sheraton Madison Hotel, 706 John Nolen Drive, is two-miles away from Monona Terrace on a lakeside walking/biking path, with shuttle service available. Call 608-251-2300 or 866-716-8134 (toll-free) to reserve a room at $149 (single/double/triple/quad).
Tour Freethought Hall, FFRF's newly expanded offices in downtown Madison, from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Friday. The Betty Lou Cruise on Lake Monona, from 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., has capacity for 86. Convention registration opens at 2 p.m. at Monona Terrace, with workshops and snacks from 3-5 p.m. Friday dinner is on your own — or join us at the first-ever FFRF Tailgate Party, serving up Wisconsin tailgate favorites from 5-6:45 p.m. The formal program begins Friday at 7 p.m., ending with complimentary dessert and beverages. The convention resumes Saturday with the 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, with picnic lunch option, the program resumes at 2 p.m. An optional dinner banquet begins at 6 p.m., to be followed by the evening speaker and entertainment. Sunday morning features the annual meetings of members and state representatives, ending by noon.
Friday 'tailgate' dinner
Bucky's Tailgate Buffet features Wisconsin Waldorf salad, home-style potato salad, fresh vegetable and relish tray, beer-boiled Johnsonville bratwurst with Wisconsin sauerkraut and chopped fresh onion, grilled boneless chicken breast, fresh-sliced tomato and crisp lettuce, Wisconsin calico baked beans, condiments and buns, coffee, tea or milk. Cash bar.
Saturday 'Non-Prayer' breakfast
Wisconsin cheese and chive scrambled eggs, apple-smoked bacon, rosemary wedge potatoes, ketchup compote, petite muffins, orange juice, coffee, tea and milk (veggie option available).
Saturday 'Grab and Go' box lunch
Includes your choice of roasted chicken or grilled vegetables on Kaiser roll with tomato, lettuce with condiments on the side, chips and a can of soda.
Saturday banquet dinner
Chicken Wellington: Delicate puff pastry filled with a boneless chicken breast, apple smoked bacon, shallots and mushrooms, served with mushroom-brown rice pilaf, fresh seasonal vegetable blend.
Portobello Wellington: Delicate puff pastry filled with fresh portabello mushrooms, herbs, shallots and risotto and served with grilled tomato.
Both entrees served with dinner rolls and butter, house salad with Champagne-mustard vinaigrette, beverage (coffee, tea, or milk) and chocolate raspberry torte.
Join FFRF on boat cruise
FFRF convention attendees are invited to take a boat cruise on Madison's Lake Monona Friday, Sept. 15, prior to the start of the convention. The Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center, home to FFRF's convention, overlooks the scenic lake.
For $50 per person, you'll be treated to a two-hour tour with a buffet, featuring clam chowder, chips and Cajun dip, vegetarian variety platter, seafood salad, chicken salad, pasta salad, fruit salad, sliced deli meats/cheeses and assorted desserts. There is a cash bar for beverages.
The tour begins at 10:45 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m.
We'll have bus service to take you from Freethought Hall or the Hilton to the boat launch and back to the hotel, or you can walk the route. Maps will be available. Unfortunately, the yachts are not wheelchair accessible, as the walkways are tight and there are narrow stairs to the banquet area. There are two boats and a total limit of 86 passengers. If you are coming as part of a group, FFRF will make sure your group is aboard the same boat.