Freethought Today · May 2017

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Poundstone joins lively lineup at convention

FFRF is excited to announce that well-known comedian Paula Poundstone, an "out" atheist, will perform at its 40th annual convention.

Poundstone joins Nation columnist, writer and poet Katha Pollitt as two of the latest additions to the impressive convention lineup for the weekend of Sept. 15-17 at the Monona Terrace Convention Center in Madison, Wis.

Poundstone is one of America's top comedians. She is listed in Comedy Central's list of "100 Greatest Stand-Ups Of All Time" and has also won an American Comedy Award for Best Female Standup Comic. She routinely identifies as an atheist in her performances. Among Poundstone's claims to fame is her regular appearances as a panelist on NPR's funny weekly news quiz show, "Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me."

In 2016, Paula voiced the character "Forgetter Paula" in Disney/Pixar's Academy Award-winning animated feature film, "Inside Out." In June 2016, her first double-live CD, "North By Northwest: Paula Poundstone Live!" debuted at No. 1 on both Amazon's "Hot New Releases – Nonfiction" and "Comedy CD" lists.

In 1992, she became the first woman to host the prestigious White House Correspondents dinner in its 72-year history.

She joins an already strong cast of speakers and entertainers for the exciting convention. Others on the docket include Pollitt, Maryam Namazie, Steven Pinker, Cara Santa Maria and Michelle Goldberg, to name a few.

But the convention is more than just speakers and entertainers. Start it off with a tour of the newly remodeled and expanded Freethought Hall on the morning of Friday, Sept. 15. It's only a couple blocks from the convention site. Visit the third-floor Freethought Library, where you can get your picture taken with a life-sized replica of Charles Darwin.

After the Freethought Hall tour, take a trip around Lake Monona on a cruise boat, where you'll spend two hours on the picturesque lake, which includes great views of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed convention center. The convention officially starts with speakers and awards at 3 p.m. Friday, which is an earlier start than usual. For dinner on Friday, join us for the Wisconsin Tailgate Party buffet, which will feature the Forward! Marching Band.

(For more information about the convention, turn to page 23 or go to ffrf.org/outreach/convention.)

The other scheduled speakers at the convention include:

Katha Pollitt

Pollitt is well known for her column in The Nation, "Subject to Debate," which the Washington Post has called "the best place to go for original thinking on the left." She will be receiving FFRF's Forward Award at the convention.

In 2011, the New York City native won the American Sociological Association Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues. Her 1992 essay on the culture wars, "Why We Read: Canon to the Right of Me . . ." won the National Magazine Award for essays and criticism, and she won a Whiting Foundation Writing Award the same year. In 2013, her column won a Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as did her 1993 essay "Why Do We Romanticize the Fetus?"

She has previously received FFRF's Emperor Has No Clothes Award and Freethought Heroine Award.

Maryam Namazie

Namazie is an Iranian-born secularist and human rights activist, commentator and broadcaster living in London. The spokesperson for Iran Solidarity, One Law for All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain will be receiving the 2017 Henry H. Zumach Freedom From Fundamentalist Religion Award.

Steven Pinker

Harvard's Pinker is FFRF's honorary president, a cognitive scientist, psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is one of the world's foremost writers on language, mind and human nature. He is a previous winner of FFRF's Emperor Has No Clothes Award.

Cara Santa Maria

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.

Michelle Goldberg

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

Kimberly Veal

Veal is president of People of Color Beyond Faith, president and host of the Black FreeThinkers Radio Network, IT trainer, and community and social justice activist.

Roy Zimmerman

Zimmerman is an American satirical singer-songwriter and guitarist with a repertoire of irreverent songs. He wrote a series of satirical musical revues in the 1980s that were produced by the San Jose Repertory Theatre.

Zenos Frudakis

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.

Brent Michael Davids

Davids is an American composer and flautist and is a member of the Stockbridge Mohican nation of American Indians. He has composed for Zeitgeist, the Kronos Quartet, Joffrey Ballet, the National Symphony Orchestra, and Chanticleer.

Kelly Helton

Helton, a 12-year-old seventh-grader from Kentucky, will give a short talk about her activism, including sitting down for the Pledge of Allegiance and successful efforts to get her public school to stop playing religious songs.

Freethinkers of the Year

A roster of victorious state/church plaintiffs will be named Freethinkers of the Year. Marie Schaub is the successful plaintiff in FFRF's lawsuit against a Pennsylvania school district over a Ten Commandments monument outside her daughter's high school. (See page 5.) Jesse Castillo and Kevin Price were victorious in removing Christian crosses from Brewster County sheriffs' cars. Jerry Bloom, the plaintiff in FFRF's successful federal lawsuit, FFRF and Jerome H. Bloom v. City of Shelton, Conn., filed last year against censorship of FFRF's winter solstice display.

FFRF Co-President Dan Barker will also perform at the piano with his own repertoire. As always, FFRF's legal team will present its yearly Accomplishments panel, revealing the inside scoop on FFRF's 2017 legal cases. The legal department includes Staff Attorneys Rebecca Markert, Patrick Elliott, Andrew Seidel, Elizabeth Cavell and Sam Grover.

For full convention information, go to ffrf.org/outreach/convention.

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