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Get signed up now for FFRF’s convention in San Antonio!

The San Antonio Riverway

FFRF hopes you will join it in San Antonio for its 45th national convention at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk, 123 Losoya St., on Friday, Oct. 28, through Sat., Oct. 29, followed by Sunday morning membership and state representative meetings.

The 2020 convention was originally to take place in San Antonio, but the pandemic forced the postponement. 

FFRF has heard from several members who, due to various Texas policies, wonder why FFRF is holding a convention in Texas at all. “We not only feel our ‘DO Mess with Texas’ can raise awareness, but are contractually obligated, due to the negotiations required in 2020 to postpone,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. 

Joining the list of speakers will be Nebraska state Sen. Megan Hunt, who publicly identifies as an atheist. She will receive FFRF’s “Champion of the First Amendment” award. Her remarks, during debate against an abortion ban “trigger bill” she called a “church bill” sponsored by “Christian religious extremists,” were credited with helping to kill the bill in early April. She is an entrepreneur, activist and parent elected in 2018 to represent District 8 in the Nebraska Legislature and is committed to uplifting the voices of the marginalized and forgotten. She has worked with other senators to tackle food stamp reform, ban the harmful practice of conversion therapy, improve affordable housing, and ensure that caregivers during the pandemic were eligible for unemployment benefits. 

The other confirmed speakers include:

Jim Hightower. Iconic Texan commentator and writer Jim Hightower has been dubbed “America’s most popular populist.” He spent four decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be — consumers, working families, environmentalists, small business and just-plain folks. The two-time Texas agriculture commissioner is a national radio commentator heard on more than 150 commercial and public stations. 

John Irving. The novelist of 14 books, including The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules, will be receiving FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award. Irving has won the National Book Award, the O. Henry Award, an Oscar for best adapted screenplay and a Lambda Literary Award for his novel In One Person. His all-time bestselling novel is A Prayer for Owen Meany. FFRF offered Irving the award after his column, “The long, cruel history of the anti-abortion crusade,” appeared in The New York Times on June 23, 2019. 

Amy Hagstrom Miller. FFRF’s 2022 “Forward Award” honoree will be Amy Hagstrom Miller, who founded Whole Woman’s Health in 2003. She brought Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, and she’s also the lead plaintiff challenging Texas’ SB8 abortion ban.  

Daniel Mach. Director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Mach will accept on behalf of the ACLU FFRF’s Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism Award, which has grown to $35,000. The award is personally endowed by FFRF Lifetime Member Henry Zumach. Mach leads a wide range of religious liberty litigation, advocacy and public education efforts nationwide, and often writes, teaches and speaks publicly on religious freedom issues. 

Alice Greczyn. She will be named FFRF Freethought Heroine 2022. She is an actress, author of Wayward: A Memoir of Spiritual Warfare and Sexual Purity, and the founder of Dare to Doubt. Her own story includes a painful but rewarding transition from evangelical Christianity to atheism, a journey that inspired her to found DaretoDoubt.org.

Hector A. Garcia. He is the author of Alpha God and Sex, Power and Partisanship: How Evolutionary Science Makes Sense at Our Political Divide. He has given a TED Talk. Garcia is a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. 

Candace R.M. Gorham. She will be running a workshop “On Death, Dying and Disbelief.” She will also be performing as part of “Godless Gospel” as well as participating on a panel of African American nonbelievers. Gorham is also the author of The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking Out on Religion — and Others Should Too and On Death, Dying, and Disbelief.

Barbara Alvarez. She will be conducting a workshop on what you can do to help stop the religious war against reproductive rights. She has a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign. Barbara is the author of the forthcoming book Library Services for Sexual and Reproductive Health Information. 

Elle Harris. FFRF will be awarding its debut “Out of God’s Closet” $5,000 student scholarship, given by Diane Uhl in memory of her late husband Stephen Uhl, to 11-year-old Elle Harris, author of Elle the Humanist. 

Max Nibert. He is the 18-year-old Huntington (W.Va.) High School student who helped organize a walkout protest after the school held Christian-themed assemblies in the public school and is suing the school with FFRF. He will be receiving the Richard & Beverly Hermsen $5,000 Student Activist Award.

Godless Gospel. An “atheist choir” will debut with “godless gospel” songs, a collaboration of music producer/songwriter Andre Forbes, and FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. Songs are by Andre and Dan. Vocalists include: Tahira Clayton, jazz vocalist; Rogiérs Fibby, president of Black Nonbelievers of DC; Candace Gorham; Cynthia McDonald, an activist with Freedmen of Chicago; DeAngela Morant of Florida; and Mandisa Thomas, president of Black Nonbelievers.

Also included will be the usual reports on FFRF’s achievements over the year, including the report by FFRF’s team of attorneys and a reprise of last year’s popular “Ask an Attorney” workshop.

Convention registration is online at ffrf.org/convo-2022, along with links to make hotel reservations. Or you can send in the form on the back page of this issue.