And the award goes to . . .
FFRF will be handing out 10 awards at this year’s convention in San Francisco the weekend of Nov. 2-4. Two of them are new this year, including the Clarence Darrow Award and the Avijit Roy Courage Award.
• Emperor Has No Clothes Award is an honor celebrating “plain speaking” on the shortcomings of religion by public figures.
• Forward Award is a statuette created for FFRF by sculptor Zenos Frudakis and is given to those freethinkers who have moved society forward.
• Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism Award goes to an organization or individual who is judged to have done the most to diminish the influence of fundamentalist religion. Zumach, a Life Member of FFRF, has endowed the award. The awardee earns a $10,000 prize.
• Avijit Roy Courage Award is in honor of the Bangladeshi-American atheist and author who was assassinated in 2015 by Islamists. The awardee earns a $5,000 prize.
• Honorable Culbert Olson Courage Award is a special honor to be given to Debra Olson on behalf of her grandfather, the first out atheist governor of California.
• Freethought Heroine Award recognizes the special contributions of women to freethought and the battle to keep state and church separate.
• Beverly and Richard Herman Student Activist Award of $5,000 recognizes outstanding activism for freethought or the separation of church and state by students.
• Clarence Darrow Award is a miniature replica of the 7-foot Darrow statue sculpted for FFRF by Frudakis that now stands outside the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, Tenn. The statuette is given to an activist in freethought, civil liberties or science.
John de Lancie, actor, director, producer and activist, is best-known for portraying “Q” in the TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” He has appeared in dozens of movies and television shows. John has performed with most of the major symphony orchestras in America, Canada and Australia. He was co-owner, with Leonard Nimoy, of Alien Voices; a production company devoted to the dramatization of classic sci-fi. John has also directed a number of operas.
He will be receiving the Clarence Darrow Award.
Bailey Harris, 12, is co-author with her father, Douglas. The first book of the Stardust series, My Name Is Stardust, was released in 2017 and has sold thousands of copies worldwide, enabling Bailey and Douglas to help spread their passion for science to families across the globe.
The second book in the series, Stardust Explores the Solar System, which will be published this fall, explains how our solar system came to be, starting with the Big Bang.
Bailey will be receiving FFRF’s Beverly and Richard Herman Student Activist Award.
Ensaf Haidar has been fighting to free her husband, Raif Badawi, who has been imprisoned and flogged for founding an internet forum that “violates Islamic values and propagates liberal thought.” In January 2015, Raif was flogged 50 times before hundreds of spectators, creating an international outcry. Ensaf and their three children escaped from Saudi Arabia and were granted asylum in Canada. She is the president and co-founder of the Raif Badawi Foundation for Freedom.
Ensaf will receive the Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism Award.
Sarah Haider is a writer, speaker and activist who spent her early youth as a practicing Muslim. She left her faith in her late teens, and later co-founded Ex-Muslims of North America (EXMNA), which advocates for the acceptance of religious dissent and works to create local support communities for those who have left Islam. Sarah directs EXMNA’s Life Beyond Faith mini-documentaries and also heads EXMNA’s Normalizing Dissent tour. She is a columnist for Free Inquiry.
Sarah will be receiving the Freethought Heroine Award.
U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., is one of the founders of the new Congressional Freethought Caucus, which will center on fostering “science- and reason-based solutions” and “defending the secular character of our government.”
“There currently is no forum focused on these important issues, and with this Administration and certain members of Congress constantly working to erode the separation of church and state, this new caucus is both important and timely,” Huffman said in a statement.
Huffman will receive the Emperor Has No Clothes Award.
Debra Olson, along with Dr. Craig West Wilkinson, is author of a new 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. She was an advisor and fundraising consultant for the Kucinich for President campaign in 2003. She is the Founder of Peace Solutions.
Olson will be accepting the special Honorable Culbert Olson Courage Award.
Cecile Richards is a national leader for women’s rights and social and economic justice, and the author of New York Times bestseller Make Trouble. She is the former president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund. In 2011 and 2012, she was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.
Richards will be receiving the Forward Award. After her convention discussion, she will hold a Q&A and a book signing.
Roopbaan, founded in 2014, is the first gay magazine published in Bangladesh. One of its founders was murdered by Islamists. Accepting FFRF’s premiere Avijit Roy Courage Award in the magazine’s honor will be a Roopbann co-founder whose life also was threatened, and who is now in the United States applying for asylum.
On hand to announce the new award will be Rafida Bonya Ahmed, widow of Avijit Roy, who was critically wounded in the attack and has c
ontinued to help other threatened secular activists.
Salman Rushdie 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, and later, the Best of the Booker.
Rushdie will be receiving the Emperor Has No Clothes Award. There will be a book signing after his speech.
Adam Savage began his career in the special effects industry, working on such movies as “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” and “Episode II: Attack of the Clones,” “Galaxy Quest” and the “Matrix” sequels. In 2002, Adam was chosen along with Jamie Hyneman to host MythBusters, which premiered on Discovery Channel in January 2003. Fourteen years, 1,015 myths, 2,950 experiments, eight Emmy nominations and 83 miles of duct tape later, the series ended in March 2016.
He will be receiving the Emperor Has No Clothes Award.