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Rep. Jared Huffman to speak at FFRF convention

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., one of the founders of the recently announced Congressional Freethought Caucus, has agreed to speak at FFRF’s convention in San Francisco in early November.

Huffman will be accepting FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award, which is given to public figures who take on the fabled role of the little child in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and “tell it like it is” about religion.

Huffman joins a strong lineup of guest speakers for FFRF’s 41st annual the convention, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency, 5 Embarcadero Center, in downtown San Francisco on the weekend of Nov. 2-4.

Other speakers are:

Cecile Richards, the former longtime president of Planned Parenthood, is a national leader for women’s rights and social and economic justice, and the author of New York Times bestseller, Make Trouble. As president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund for more than a decade, Richards worked to increase affordable access to reproductive health care and to build a healthier and safer world for women and young people. She served as deputy chief of staff to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. In 2011 and 2012, Richards was named among Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. She’s receiving FFRF’s Forward Award.

Salman Rushdie, one of the most celebrated authors of our time, will be receiving the Emperor Has No Clothes Award Friday afternoon. He has written several classic novels, influenced a generation of writers, and received the Queen’s Knighthood for his “services to literature.” His novels include The Satanic Verses, The Moor’s Last Sigh, The Ground Beneath Her Feet and 2008’s The Enchantress of Florence. His masterwork of magic realism, Midnight’s Children, won the presitigious Booker Prize.

Adam Savage is co-host of “Myth Busters,” on the Discovery Channel and is master of many trades. Savage has acted, designed, sculpted, anchored TV shows, and has been an educator. Savage’s special effects have been on view in a dozen feature films, including the “Matrix” sequels and “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” He’ll be receiving The Emperor Has No Clothes Award on Saturday night.

John de Lancie, an actor, director, producer, writer, singer, musician, and voice artist, will be receiving FFRF’s first “Clarence” award — a statuette version of FFRF’s 7-foot statue of Clarence Darrow on display in front of the site of the Scopes trial in Dayton, Tenn. De Lancie spoke at the dedication. He is well-known for portraying “Q” in the TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Ensaf Haidar is the activist wife of a Saudi freethinker whose persecution has caused global outrage. For the supposed crime of “apostasy,” Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was shockingly sentenced in 2013 to 600 lashes and seven years in prison, which was unbelievably increased to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison the following year (along with a hefty accompanying fine).  Haidar has become a secular activist in her own right, establishing the Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom to spread progressive values in the Middle East and working tirelessly for Badawi’s release. Haidar will be receiving the third annual Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism Award of $10,000.

Sarah Haider is a co-founder of Ex-Muslims of North America. She directs EXMNA’s Normalizing Dissent tour, and travels the United States and Canada to cover a range of issues related to apostacy in Islam. She is currently a columnist for Free Inquiry magazine. She will receive a Freethought Heroine Award.

Bailey Harris, 12, a sixth-grade student at Salt Lake City’s Open Classroom, will be receiving the $5,000 Beverly and Richard Hermsen Student Activist Award. She was inspired by an episode of “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” and wrote, along with her father Doug Harris, the picture book My Name is Stardust

Leighann Lord, a veteran stand-up comedian, will do stand-up routine at the convention. Lord has been seen on Lifetime, VH-1, Comedy Central, HBO and “The View.” She is a contributor to the Huffington Post and the author of Dict Jokes: Alternate Definitions for Words You’ve Probably Never Heard of But Will Definitely Never Forget and Real Women Do It Standing Up: Stories From the Career of a Very Funny Lady.

Debra Deanne Olson, who, with Dr. Craig West Wilkinson, just authored a book about her atheist grandfather, The Honorable Culbert Levy Olson: Governor of California 1939-1943. She is a political, environmental and peace activist and held volunteer positions on both of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns.

Julia Sweeney, one of FFRF’s honorary directors, will perform a new stand-up routine called “Julia Sweeney: Older and Wider” for the FFRF audience on Friday night. She is a “Saturday Night Live” alum who created and portrayed the androgynous character “Pat.” She also created and performed several award-winning one-woman shows, including “God Said, Ha!”, “In the Family Way” and “Letting Go of God.”

Convention info

Convention registration is only $60 per member, $65 per companion, $110 non-member, and free for students and children. Sign up for the discounted package that includes the two group meals on Saturday and save $20.

The convention is being held at the downtown Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. The convention opens at noon on Friday, Nov. 2, with the program beginning at 1 p.m., continuing all day Saturday. It closes with a Sunday morning membership and state representative meeting ending by noon. See more details at

Rooms can be reserved for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at $235 plus tax. Phone directly to make your reservations: 1-888-421-1442 and use the code “Freedom From Religion Foundation.” Or go online at for full convention information or reserve rooms directly at Don’t delay as rooms are going fast!

Jared Huffman
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