Freethought Today · April 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

FFRF’s 40th national convention: Join us for an unbelievably good time

Sign up now for reduced rate for the weekend of Sept. 15-17 in Madison

FFRF is proud to be hosting its 40th national convention in Madison, Wis., this year, which will include high-profile personalities, a tour of FFRF's Freethought Hall and a two-hour boat cruise around Lake Monona.

The convention takes place the weekend of Sept. 15-17, largely at the lakeside Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, Wis. Early-birds signing up for FFRF's 40th convention get a discounted rate of only $40! Sign up now using the form below.

A pre-convention open house of FFRF's impressive Freethought Hall, in downtown Madison just blocks from the convention site, will be hosted from 9:30 a.m. to noon Friday. Mingle with others, meet staff and visit FFRF's monument to Atheists in Foxholes (military and veterans). Take a souvenir photo with the life-size mannequin of Charles Darwin in Freethought Library. Enjoy complimentary pastries, hot beverages, Mimosas or Champagne in the lovely fourth-floor auditorium featuring a beautiful grand piano.

An optional relaxing boat cruise with buffet lunch on Madison's Lake Monona starts at 10:45 a.m. Friday. You'll be out on the water for two hours, with a great view of the Monona Terrace and Convention Center, returning to shore at 1 p.m. Although walkable, a shuttle bus will be offered.

Recently added to the list of speakers are science educator Cara Santa Maria, renowned sculptor Zenos Frudakis and 12-year-old activist Kelly Helton, plus a roster of victorious state/church plaintiffs.

Santa Maria is a Los Angeles area Emmy and Knight Foundation Award winning journalist, science communicator and host of the weekly science podcast, "Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria" and cohost of the popular "Skeptics' Guide to the Universe." She'll receive FFRF's Freethought Heroine Award.

Frudakis, of Philadelphia, is an award-winning sculptor of public monuments, portrait statues, busts and figurative sculptures. He'll be talking about creating his newsmaking statue of Clarence Darrow, to be installed in July on the lawn of the Rhea County Courthouse, site of the Scopes Trial, in Dayton, Tenn.

Helton, a seventh-grader from Kentucky, will give a short talk about her activism, including sitting down for the Pledge of Allegiance (which led to others to do the same), and successful efforts to get her public school to stop playing religious songs.

Next month we will announce those to be named Freethinkers of the Year, an award reserved for state/church complainants, and other speakers.

Previously announced speakers include:

Michelle Goldberg, Brooklyn, author, columnist for Slate and frequent MSNBC commentator on the Religious Right.

Maryam Namazie, an Iranian-born secularist and human rights activist, commentator and broadcaster living in London. She will be receiving the 2017 Henry H. Zumach Freedom From Fundamentalist Religion Award.

Harvard's Steven Pinker, FFRF's honorary president, a cognitive scientist, psychologist, linguist, and popular science author.

As always, FFRF's legal team will present its yearly Accomplishments panel, reporting the inside scoop on FFRF's 2017 legal cases.

Other annual events include the "Non-Prayer Breakfast," the annual drawing for "clean," pre-"In God We Trust" currency and the opportunity to browse FFRF book and sales tables.

Entertainment will be by Roy Zimmerman, an American satirical singer-songwriter and guitarist with a repertoire of irreverent songs, and FFRF Co-President Dan Barker at the piano with his own repertoire, plus Forward! Marching Band.

Hotel info

Reserve rooms now to avoid disappointment! The Hilton Madison Monona Terrace, 9 E. Wilson St., is the official convention hotel and closest to Monona Terrace. Rooms are $183. Call 608-255-5100 to make a reservation for the "Freedom From Religion Foundation" group rate. (Go to ffrf.org/convention2017 for information on two other hotels with blocks set aside for FFRF guests, plus online registration and extra details on menus, speakers, etc.)

General schedule

Convention registration opens at 2 p.m. at Monona Terrace, with snacks and opening talks you won't want to miss between 3-5 p.m. For Friday dinner, sign up for the optional first-ever FFRF Tailgate Party, (featuring Forward! Marching Band), serving up Wisconsin tailgate favorites from 5-6:45 p.m. in the convenient lakeside Grand Terrace. The evening program begins Friday at 7 p.m., ending with complimentary cupcakes and beverages in the Grand Terrace.

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 an optional "Grab and Go" Box Lunch available) the program resumes at 2 p.m. The dinner banquet is followed by the "clean money" drawing, evening speaker and entertainment. Sunday morning features the annual meetings of members and state representatives, ending by noon.

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