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Nancy Northup, Steve Benson join convention lineup

FFRF is excited to announce the esteemed Nancy Northup as its latest speaker for the 42nd annual convention in Madison, Wis., from Oct. 18-20. And appearing as our “Convention Caricaturist” will be Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Benson.

Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, will be receiving FFRF’s Forward Award. She was previously the founding director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, a prosecutor and deputy chief of appeals in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and a law clerk to the Alvin B. Rubin of the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals.   

Benson, who has been providing FFRF with cartoons for the past several months, had been an editorial cartoonist for the Arizona Republic for 38 years, until he was let go earlier this year for budgetary reasons. His cartoons are nationally syndicated at at one time appeared in more than 120 newspapers. He will be drawing caricatures of convention guests as a fundraiser for FFRF.

Also speaking will be the three top prize winners of our  college-bound high school senior essay contest. Their essays can be seen on pages  12-13.

For hotel, food and other details about the convention, turn to page 24 or go to A registration form is also on page 24. See this page for the tentative convention schedule.

Other convention speakers include:

Sarah Vowell

She is the New York Times bestselling author of seven nonfiction books on American history and culture. 

Mandisa Thomas

Thomas, who will be named FFRF’s 2019 Freethought Heroine, is the founder and president of Black Nonbelievers.

Isaac Kramnick & R. Laurence Moore

Kramnick and Moore will discuss their most recent book, Godless Citizens in a Godly Republic: Atheists in American Public Life. Kramnick is the Richard J. Schwartz Professor of Government Emeritus at Cornell where he has taught since 1972. Moore is the Howard A. Newman Professor of History and American Studies Emeritus at Cornell University, where he taught from 1972 until his retirement.

Rachel Laser

She will be accepting the $10,000 Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism Award on behalf of Americans United for the Separation of Church & State (AU). Laser is president and CEO at AU.

Hemant Mehta

Mehta, editor of blog website, will be speaking on the topic of, “Is atheism still a taboo in politics?” He will also be receiving one of FFRF’s “Nothing Fails Like Prayer” awards and delivering his winning invocation.

Trae Crowder

He has recently earned national attention for his “Liberal Redneck” series of viral videos.

Frederick Clarkson

He is the author, co-author or editor of several books, including Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy and Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America.

Anthony B. Pinn

Pinn, who will be receiving FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award, is the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and professor of religion at Rice University.

Avinash Patil

He will be given the Avijit Roy Courage Award on behalf of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, which is dedicated to fighting superstition in India. 

Andrew L. Seidel

Seidel, the director of strategic response at FFRF, recently released his first book, The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism Is Un-American.

Jeremiah Camara

FFRF will be showing his movie, “Holy Hierarchy: The Religious Roots of Racism in America,” which explains how the belief in a supreme being in colonial Virginia led to notions of supreme human beings and how these notions morphed their way into slavery and the legal system.

Nancy Northup
Steve Benson