Don’t miss out on FFRF’s convention!

We are closing in quickly on FFRF’s 44th annual convention in Boston that begins Friday, Nov. 19! Sign up now if you haven’t already, as seats are filling up fast! You won’t want to miss out on all the great speakers and entertainment lined up for that weekend.

(Reminder: The event is limited to those who are fully vaccinated for Covid-19. See page 28.)

The conference will open informally on Thursday night, Nov. 18, with early registration and a two-hour appetizer reception at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. Registration resumes at 7 a.m. Friday, Nov. 19, with early morning coffee, tea and breakfast pastries. The full, two-day program formally opens at 9 a.m. Friday and continues through Saturday night. The membership meeting will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, followed by a short meeting of the State Representatives, concluding by noon.

The convention will include a report on FFRF accomplishments by Gaylor and Co-President Dan Barker, an hour-long legal report by FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert and FFRF’s attorneys, a little music at the piano by Barker, FFRF book and product tables, the traditional drawing for “clean,” pre-“In God We Trust” currency, and some complimentary food receptions. 

FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel, author of The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American, will lead a workshop on Christian nationalism and its ties to Jan. 6. 

Receptions

There will also be two optional author receptions. After “An evening with Margaret Atwood” Friday night, a short private reception for Ms. Atwood will take place, limited to 100 individuals. Tickets to the reception are $500 and will include a copy of The Testaments, her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale..

Friday evening will end with a complimentary dessert reception and hot beverages for all participants.

Gloria Steinem will be interviewed by FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor on Saturday afternoon, taking some audience questions, followed by a half-hour reception limited to 50 individuals. (Act quickly as that reception is nearly sold out.) 

Mail in the handy registration on Page 28 or register online at ffrf.org/convention-2021.

Speakers

Below are shortened bios of this year’s convention speakers. To read more about each speaker, please go to ffrf.org/convention-2021 and click on “Speakers 2021.”

Margaret Atwood is the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, The Edible Woman, The Robber Bride, The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake. 

Atwood will receive FFRF’s “Forward” Award, which is reserved for those who are moving society forward. 

Randa Black of Florida has won FFRF’s Nothing Fails Like Prayer contest and will recite at the convention her secular invocation.  Black is a professional actor, appearing in hundreds of television commercials and episodic TV shows. 

Christopher Cameron, associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is author of the new book, Black Freethinkers: A History of African American Secularism. 

Ann Druyan is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and director specializing in the communication of science. She was the creative director of NASA’s Voyager Interstellar Message Project and program director of the first solar sail deep space mission. 

Sikivu Hutchinson, Ph.D. is an educator, author, playwright and director. She is the author of Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles.  Hutchinson will receive FFRF’s “Freethought Heroine” Award.

Megan Phelps-Roper, author of Unfollow: On Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church, was raised in the Topeka, Kan.-based church known for its protests. Phelps-Roper will receive the $10,000 “Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism” award.

Steven Pinker is a cognitive scientist, experimental psychologist, linguist and popular science author. He is a Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. His latest book is Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters. 

Sasha Sagan is author of the new book, For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World. She is a graduate of NYU, and has worked as a television producer, filmmaker, writer and speaker. 

Sushant Singh is an Indian actor and presenter known for his work predominantly in Hindi cinema. He has appeared in almost 50 movies since 1998. Singh will be receiving the Avijit Roy Courage Award, which includes a crystal plaque and $5,000. 

Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer. Steinem, who’s been billed as “the world’s most famous feminist,” is a journalist who co-founded Ms. Magazine in 1972. Steinem will receive FFRF’s “Forward” Award. 

Katherine Stewart is the author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. She writes about religion, politics, policy and conflicts over the separation of church and state for The New York Times opinion section. 

David Tamayo is co-founder and president of Hispanic American Freethinkers in 2010. He was vice president of the Reason Rally 2016, former host of the TV show “Road to Reason – A Skeptic’s Guide to the 21st Century.” 

David Williamson is co-founder of the Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC). Williamson and other winning plaintiffs in the Brevard Co. lawsuit will accept FFRF’s Freethinker of the Year Award.

Phil Zuckerman is the associate dean and professor of sociology at Pitzer College, and the founding chair of the nation’s first Secular Studies Program. He has authored several books, including What It Means to be Moral.

Margaret Atwood

Covid-19 rules – vaccinations required

The event is limited to FFRF members and their guests who are fully vaccinated* for Covid-19. Please be sure to indicate on the registration form whether you have been vaccinated. FFRF reserves the right to request proof of vaccination. *Only exception: If you are under a physician’s explicit instructions not to be vaccinated for Covid-19 due to health/immunity issues.

The great news is that atheists as a group in the United States are the most likely and willing to be vaccinated. We fully expect the event to reach “herd immunity.” FFRF staff members are fully vaccinated.

Please note that the Boston Plaza Hotel is adhering to all federal, state and local guidelines and does not at this time require its staff to be vaccinated.

The hotel has indicated it will follow whatever protocol, as yet unknown, is required by the government at the time of FFRF’s convention.

Although FFRF will not require masking for vaccinated individuals, unless CDC, Massachusetts or Boston rules change and require them, convention participants of course are free to wear masks. FFRF will be offering its popular masks, with the slogans “FFRF,” “Science is Golden” and “In Science I Trust,” at no cost during the convention.

The conference room will be set up for about 800 seats in the usual theater format, which does not allow for social distancing. 

However, FFRF will inform participants of any requirements requested by authors during book signings, such as masking or social distancing.

Convention information

Hotel reservations

The convention hotel is the Boston Park Plaza, 50 Park Plaza at Arlington St., Boston. The convention rate is $189 single, double, triple or quad. Suites are $389 and up. Attendees should call the Central Reservations Office (617-379-7129). Please ask for “Freedom From Religion Annual Convention.” The hotel will discount self-parking to $30 per day at Motor Mart Garage.

The cut-off date for reserving rooms is 5 p.m. Eastern on Oct. 18, 2021. FFRF urges you to plan ahead and reserve early to avoid disappointment.

Meals

In addition to offering several complimentary food or dessert receptions, the convention will include four optional group meals. FFRF does not mark up meal prices, which include 17 percent gratuity, 10 percent taxable administrative fee and 7 percent sales tax.

A robust and tasty box lunch, $60, will be offered at Friday noon for participant convenience, concurrent with Andrew Seidel’s Christian nationalism workshop.

Choices include:

• Grilled Chicken Caesar Wrap

• Turkey BLT Wrap

• Grilled Vegetable Wrap

Wraps will be served with roasted vegetable penne salad, Cape Cod potato chips, a piece of whole fruit, a freshly baked cookie and choice of assorted soft drinks or bottled water.

A Southern barbeque buffet, $65, with vegetable chili and cornbread muffin, rotisserie chicken with BBQ sauce and greens, carved brisket with mac and cheese and fruit kabobs will take place from 5–7 p.m. Friday.

FFRF’s Non-Prayer Breakfast, $45, includes scrambled eggs, bacon and breakfast potatoes, assorted pastries, juice, coffee and tea, with vegetarian/vegan options.

The Saturday banquet dinner of $95 will include Maple Glazed Statler Breast of Chicken with buttermilk mashed potatoes, seasonable autumn baby green salad with roasted beets, quinoa, goat cheese, apple cider vinaigrette, and Boston Cream Pie. The vegetarian option is Butternut Squash Ravioli.

A two-hour lunch on your own is scheduled for Saturday to permit some fresh air, sightseeing or relaxation between events.

The Boston Park Plaza itself offers a variety of dining options: Kozy Korner for drinks, lunch or dinner in Off the Common, the uber-modern steakhouse Strega Italiano just off the lobby, and classic Irish pub J.J. O’Connor’s, just outside the entrance. The Back Bay Boston neighborhood offers a variety of restaurants.

Plan time to sightsee

The Boston Park Plaza is in the officially recognized neighborhood of Back Bay Boston, built on reclaimed land in the Charles River basin. It’s home to a number of restaurants, glitzy stores, skyscrapers, the commercial strips of Newbury Street and Boylston Street, the residential brownstones of Marlborough Street and Copley Square, a grassy plaza within walking distance. The hotel is about a mile from the Charles River Esplanade, a waterfront haven for runners.

The Boston Park Plaza

You may wish to take a self-guided Freedom Trail tour of historic Boston sites, or sign up on your own for a guided tour on Thursday or Sunday at thefreedomtrail.org or choose any number of other tour options.

Speaker lineup features star-studded cast

Ann Druyan
Sasha Sagan
Katherine Stewart
Margaret Atwood
Steven Pinker (Photo by Ingrid Laas)

You aren’t going to want to miss this year’s incredible lineup of speakers at FFRF’s 44th annual convention happening Friday, Nov. 19–Sunday, Nov. 21 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. (The event is limited to those who are fully vaccinated for Covid-19. See page 24.)

The conference will open informally on Thursday night, Nov. 18, with early registration and a two-hour appetizer reception. Registration resumes at 7 a.m. Friday, Nov. 19. The full, two-day program formally opens at 9 a.m. Friday. The membership meeting will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, followed by a short meeting of the State Representatives, ending by noon.

The convention will include a report on FFRF accomplishments by Annie Laurie Gaylor and Co-President Dan Barker, an hour-long legal report by FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert and FFRF’s attorneys, a little music at the piano by Barker, FFRF book and product tables, the traditional drawing for “clean,” pre-“In God We Trust” currency, and some complimentary food receptions. 

FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel will lead a workshop on Christian nationalism and its ties to Jan. 6. 

Speakers

To read more about each speaker, please go to ffrf.org/convention-2021.

Margaret Atwood is the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, The Edible Woman, The Robber Bride, The Blind Assassin, Oryx and Crake. Atwood will receive FFRF’s “Forward” Award. 

Randa Black of Florida has won FFRF’s Nothing Fails Like Prayer contest and will recite her secular invocation. Black is a professional actor, appearing in hundreds of commercials and TV shows. 

Christopher Cameron, associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is author of the new book, Black Freethinkers: A History of African American Secularism. 

Ann Druyan is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and director specializing in the communication of science. She was the creative director of NASA’s Voyager Interstellar Message Project and program director of the first solar sail deep space mission. 

Sikivu Hutchinson, Ph.D. is an educator, author, playwright and director. She is the author of Humanists in the Hood: Unapologetically Black, Feminist, and Heretical.  Hutchinson will receive FFRF’s “Freethought Heroine” Award.

Megan Phelps-Roper, author of Unfollow: On Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church, was raised in the Topeka, Kan.-based church known for its protests. Phelps-Roper will receive the $10,000 “Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism” award.

Steven Pinker is a cognitive scientist, experimental psychologist, linguist and popular science author. He is a Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. 

Sasha Sagan is author of the new book, For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World. She has worked as a television producer, filmmaker, writer and speaker. 

Sushant Singh is an Indian actor and presenter known for his work predominantly in Hindi cinema. Singh will be receiving the Avijit Roy Courage Award. 

Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer. Steinem, who’s been billed as “the world’s most famous feminist,” is a journalist who co-founded Ms. Magazine in 1972. Steinem will receive FFRF’s “Forward” Award. 

Katherine Stewart is the author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. 

David Tamayo is cofounder and president of Hispanic American Freethinkers in 2010. 

Jay Wexler is a professor at Boston University School of Law. 

David Williamson is co-founder of the Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC). Williamson will accept FFRF’s Freethinker of the Year Award.

Phil Zuckerman is the associate dean and professor of sociology at Pitzer College, and the founding chair of the nation’s first Secular Studies Program. 

Receptions

There will also be two optional author receptions. After “An evening with Margaret Atwood” Friday night, a short private reception for Ms. Atwood will take place, limited to 100 individuals. Tickets to the reception are $500 and will include a copy of The Testaments, her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.

Friday evening will end with a complimentary dessert reception and hot beverages for all participants.

Gloria Steinem will be interviewed by FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor on Saturday afternoon, taking some audience questions, followed by a half-hour reception limited to 50 individuals. That $500 ticket will include a copy of Ms. Steinem’s newest book, The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off! Thoughts on Life, Love, and Rebellion. 

Mail in the handy registration on Page 24 or register online at ffrf.org/convention-2021.

Pre-registration deadline is Oct. 31, unless the convention sells out earlier. 

Convention information

Hotel reservations

The convention hotel is the Boston Park Plaza, 50 Park Plaza at Arlington St., Boston. The convention rate is $189 single, double, triple or quad. Suites are $389 and up. Attendees should call the Central Reservations Office (617-379-7129). Please ask for “Freedom From Religion Annual Convention.” The hotel will discount self-parking to $30 per day at Motor Mart Garage.

The cut-off date for reserving rooms is 5 p.m. Eastern on Oct. 18, 2021. FFRF urges you to plan ahead and reserve early to avoid disappointment.

Meals

In addition to offering several complimentary food or dessert receptions, the convention will include four optional group meals. FFRF does not mark up meal prices, which include 17 percent gratuity, 10 percent taxable administrative fee and 7 percent sales tax.

A robust and tasty box lunch, $60, will be offered at Friday noon for participant convenience, concurrent with Andrew Seidel’s Christian nationalism workshop.

Choices include:

• Grilled Chicken Caesar Wrap

• Turkey BLT Wrap

• Grilled Vegetable Wrap

Wraps will be served with roasted vegetable penne salad, Cape Cod potato chips, a piece of whole fruit, a freshly baked cookie and choice of assorted soft drinks or bottled water.

A Southern barbeque buffet, $65, with vegetable chili and cornbread muffin, rotisserie chicken with BBQ sauce and greens, carved brisket with mac and cheese and fruit kabobs will take place from 5–7 p.m. Friday.

FFRF’s Non-Prayer Breakfast, $45, includes scrambled eggs, bacon and breakfast potatoes, assorted pastries, juice, coffee and tea, with vegetarian/vegan options.

The Saturday banquet dinner of $95 will include Maple Glazed Statler Breast of Chicken with buttermilk mashed potatoes, seasonable autumn baby green salad with roasted beets, quinoa, goat cheese, apple cider vinaigrette, and Boston Cream Pie. The vegetarian option is Butternut Squash Ravioli.

A two-hour lunch on your own is scheduled for Saturday to permit some fresh air, sightseeing or relaxation between events.

The Boston Park Plaza itself offers a variety of dining options: Kozy Korner for drinks, lunch or dinner in Off the Common, the uber-modern steakhouse Strega Italiano just off the lobby, and classic Irish pub J.J. O’Connor’s, just outside the entrance. The Back Bay Boston neighborhood offers a variety of restaurants.

Plan time to sightsee

The Boston Park Plaza is in the officially recognized neighborhood of Back Bay Boston, built on reclaimed land in the Charles River basin. It’s home to a number of restaurants, glitzy stores, skyscrapers, the commercial strips of Newbury Street and Boylston Street, the residential brownstones of Marlborough Street and Copley Square, a grassy plaza within walking distance. The hotel is about a mile from the Charles River Esplanade, a waterfront haven for runners.

You may wish to take a self-guided Freedom Trail tour of historic Boston sites, or sign up on your own for a guided tour on Thursday or Sunday at thefreedomtrail.org or choose any number of other tour options.

Covid-19 rules – vaccinations required

The event is limited to FFRF members and their guests who are fully vaccinated* for Covid-19. Please be sure to indicate on the registration form whether you have been vaccina

The Boston Park Plaza is site of FFRF’s 2021 national convention, Nov. 19-21.

ted. FFRF reserves the right to request proof of vaccination. *Only exception: If you are under a physician’s explicit instructions not to be vaccinated for Covid-19 due to health/immunity issues.

The great news is that atheists as a group in the United States are the most likely and willing to be vaccinated. We fully expect the event to reach “herd immunity.” FFRF staff members are fully vaccinated.

Please note that the Boston Plaza Hotel is adhering to all federal, state and local guidelines and does not at this time require its staff to be vaccinated.

The hotel has indicated it will follow whatever protocol, as yet unknown, is required by the government at the time of FFRF’s convention.

Although FFRF will not require masking for vaccinated individuals, unless CDC, Massachusetts or Boston rules change and require them, convention participants of course are free to wear masks. FFRF will be offering its popular masks, with the slogans “FFRF,” “Science is Golden” and “In Science I Trust,” at no cost during the convention.

The conference room will be set up for about 800 seats in the usual theater format, which does not allow for social distancing. 

However, FFRF will inform participants of any requirements requested by authors during book signings, such as masking or social distancing.

Boston beckons for FFRF’s exciting convention

Steven Pinker (Photo by Ingrid Laas)
Sikivu Hutchinson
Gloria Steinem
Anny Druyan
Margaret Atwood

When you think of Boston, what comes to mind first? The marathon? Baked beans? The Red sox or Celtics? 

Well, for Freedom From Religion Foundation members, maybe it’ll be that FFRF’s 44th annual convention will be held there from Friday, Nov. 19–Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. (The event is limited to those who are fully vaccinated for Covid-19. See back page for details on “Covid rules.”)

“We look forward to a celebratory event and warm reunion with members,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We’ve put together an amazing line-up of leading authors and freethought and secular activists.”

The conference will open informally on Thursday night, Nov. 18, with early registration and a two-hour appetizer reception at the Boston Park Plaza. Registration resumes at 7 a.m. Friday, Nov. 19, with early morning coffee, tea and breakfast pastries. Registration continues throughout the conference. The full, two-day program formally opens at 9 a.m. Friday and continues through Saturday night. The membership meeting will take place at 9 a.m. Sunday, followed by a short meeting of the State Representatives, concluding by noon.

Headliners previously announced include distinguished author Margaret (The Handmaid’s Tale) Atwood, freethinking feminist Gloria Steinem, Power Worshippers author Katherine Stewart and Secular Studies pioneer Phil Zuckerman. Joining that list are now veteran Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, whose new book, Justice on the Brink: The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Rise of Amy Coney Barrett, and Twelve Months That Transformed the Supreme Court, will be just released, as well as FFRF Honorary President Steve Pinker, whose latest book, Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters, will also be hot off the press. Greenhouse will receive FFRF’s Clarence Darrow Award for her outstanding legal reporting and analysis.

Additionally, the mother-daughter duo of Ann Druyan and Sasha Sagan will end the conference Saturday night following the banquet dinner. Druyan co-authored with Carl Sagan many classic science books, and writes and produces the award-winning “Cosmos” TV series.

Druyan will receive FFRF’s Emperor Has No Clothes Award, reserved for public figures who make known their dissent from religion. Her daughter Sasha is author of the well-received new book, For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World.

FFRF Director of Strategic Response Andrew Seidel, author of Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American, will lead a workshop on Christian nationalism and its ties to Jan. 6. Professor Chris Cameron will speak about his book, Black Freethinkers: A History of African American Secularism. David Tamayo, co-founder of Hispanic American Freethinkers, will speak. 

Activists honored at the event will include secular students, Freethinkers of the Year such as FFRF member David Williamson and other recent successful state/church plaintiffs and Black Skeptics Los Angeles founder and author Sikivu Hutchinson, who will be receiving FFRF’s Freethought Heroine Award. Indian actor Sushant Singh, who has protested against Hindu nationalism, is scheduled to receive the Avijit Roy Courage Award.

Megan Phelps-Roper, author of the new book Unfollow: On Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church, will receive the Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism Award.

The event will include a report on FFRF accomplishments by Gaylor and Co-President Dan Barker, an hour-long legal report by FFRF Legal Director Rebecca Markert and FFRF’s attorneys, a little music at the piano by Barker, FFRF book and product tables, the traditional drawing for “clean,” pre-“In God We Trust” currency, and some complimentary food receptions. There will be opportunities for socializing and meeting with authors during book signings.

There will also be two optional author receptions. After “An evening with Margaret Atwood” Friday night, involving a moderated conversation with author Katherine Stewart, a short private reception for Ms. Atwood will take place, limited to 100 individuals. Tickets to the reception are $500 and will include a copy of The Testaments, her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. 

Friday evening will end with a complimentary dessert reception and hot beverages for all participants.

Gloria Steinem will be interviewed by FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor on Saturday afternoon, taking some audience questions, followed by a half-hour reception limited to 50 individuals. That $500 ticket will include a copy of Ms. Steinem’s newest book, The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off! Thoughts on Life, Love, and Rebellion. Both Atwood and Steinem will receive FFRF’s “Forward Award,” reserved for those who have moved society forward.

The schedule and updates will be published in upcoming issues of Freethought Today and on FFRF’s website, ffrf.org/convention-2021.

Pre-registration deadline is Oct. 31, 2021, unless the convention sells out earlier. We encourage you to plan ahead.

Convention 2021 information

Hotel reservations

The convention hotel is the Boston Park Plaza, 50 Park Plaza at Arlington St., Boston. The convention rate is $189 single, double, triple or quad. Suites are $389 and up. Attendees should call the Central Reservations Office (617-379-7129). Please ask for “Freedom From Religion Annual Convention.” The hotel will discount self-parking to $30 per day at Motor Mart Garage.

The cut-off date for reserving rooms is 5 p.m. Eastern on Oct. 18, 2021. FFRF urges you to plan ahead and reserve early to avoid disappointment.

Meals

In addition to offering several complimentary food or dessert receptions, the convention will include four optional group meals. FFRF does not mark up meal prices, which include 17 percent gratuity, 10 percent taxable administrative fee and 7 percent sales tax.

A robust and tasty box lunch, $60, will be offered at Friday noon for participant convenience, concurrent with Andrew Seidel’s Christian nationalism workshop.

Choices include:

• Grilled Chicken Caesar Wrap

• Turkey BLT Wrap

• Grilled Vegetable Wrap

Wraps will be served with roasted vegetable penne salad, Cape Cod potato chips, a piece of whole fruit, a freshly baked cookie and choice of assorted soft drinks or bottled water.

A Southern barbeque buffet, $65, with vegetable chili and cornbread muffin, rotisserie chicken with BBQ sauce and greens, carved brisket with mac and cheese and fruit kabobs will take place from 5–7 p.m. Friday.

FFRF’s Non-Prayer Breakfast, $45, includes scrambled eggs, bacon and breakfast potatoes, assorted pastries, juice, coffee and tea, with vegetarian/vegan options.

The Saturday banquet dinner of $95 will include Maple Glazed Statler Breast of Chicken with buttermilk mashed potatoes, seasonable autumn baby green salad with roasted beets, quinoa, goat cheese, apple cider vinaigrette, and Boston Cream Pie. The vegetarian option is Butternut Squash Ravioli.

A two-hour lunch on your own is scheduled for Saturday to permit some fresh air, sightseeing or relaxation between events.

The Boston Park Plaza itself offers a variety of dining options: Kozy Korner for drinks, lunch or dinner in Off the Common, the uber-modern steakhouse Strega Italiano just off the lobby, and classic Irish pub J.J. O’Connor’s, just outside the entrance. The Back Bay Boston neighborhood offers a variety of restaurants.

Plan time to sightsee

The Boston Park Plaza is in the officially recognized neighborhood of Back Bay Boston, built on reclaimed land in the Charles River basin. It’s home to a number of restaurants, glitzy stores, skyscrapers, the commercial strips of Newbury Street and Boylston Street, the residential brownstones of Marlborough Street and Copley Square, a grassy plaza within walking distance. The hotel is about a mile from the Charles River Esplanade, a waterfront haven for runners.

You may wish to take a self-guided Freedom Trail tour of historic Boston sites, or sign up on your own for a guided tour on Thursday or Sunday at thefreedomtrail.org or choose any number of other tour options.

Covid-19 rules – vaccinations required

The Boston Park Plaza is site of FFRF’s 2021 national convention, Nov. 19-21.

The event is limited to FFRF members and their guests who are fully vaccinated* for Covid-19. Please be sure to indicate on the registration form whether you have been vaccinated. FFRF reserves the right to request proof of vaccination. *Only exception: If you are under a physician’s explicit instructions not to be vaccinated for Covid-19 due to health/immunity issues.

The great news is that atheists as a group in the United States are the most likely and willing to be vaccinated. We fully expect the event to reach “herd immunity.” FFRF staff members are fully vaccinated.

Please note that the Boston Plaza Hotel is adhering to all federal, state and local guidelines and does not at this time require its staff to be vaccinated.

It currently does require them to be masked. The hotel has indicated it will follow whatever protocol, as yet unknown, is required by the government at the time of FFRF’s convention.

Although FFRF will not require masking for vaccinated individuals, unless CDC, Massachusetts or Boston rules change and require them, convention participants of course are free to wear masks. FFRF will be offering its popular masks, with the slogans “FFRF,” “Science is Golden” and “In Science I Trust,” at no cost during the convention.

The conference room will be set up for about 800 seats in the usual theater format, which does not allow for social distancing. However, FFRF will inform participants of any requirements requested by authors during book signings, such as masking or social distancing.

Boston, here we come! Steinem, Atwood to headline FFRF convention

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is excited to announce that its 2021 national convention in Boston is on! Based on the science and expected vaccination rates, FFRF is delighted to move forward with its “post-pandemic” convention bash.

Join us on the weekend of Nov. 19-21 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, with special guest Gloria Steinem, among many others. 

FFRF will hold a longer than usual full two-day convention beginning on the morning of Friday, Nov. 19, running through Saturday night, Nov. 20. The Sunday, Nov. 21 membership and State Representatives meetings conclude by noon. FFRF is still working out the details (dining, lineup, schedule) and will carry full information including hotel specifics and th

Gloria Steinem
Margaret Atwood

e registration form, in the upcoming “Private Line” newsletter and in the August issue of Freethought Today. Or check out ffrf.org/convention-2021 to keep up to date.

Steinem will speak at the conclusion of the Saturday afternoon session, with an optional reception. Friday evening will feature “An Evening With Margaret Atwood,” also concluding with an optional reception. Atwood will be interviewed by journalist and author Katherine Stewart, who will talk separately about her timely book, The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism.

Other speakers include:

Linda Greenhouse, author and veteran Supreme Court observer, who covered the high court for the New York Times for more than 30 years.

• Black Skeptics Los Angeles founder, novelist and activist Sikivu Hutchinson, who will be receiving FFRF’s Freethought Heroine Award. 

Megan Phelps-Roper, who wrote the book, Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving the Westboro Baptist Church about leaving her family’s Westboro Baptist Church in 2012. She will receive the Henry Zumach Freedom From Religious Fundamentalism Award.

Sushant Singh, an Indian actor and presenter known for his work predominantly in Hindi cinema, who has appeared in almost 50 movies since 1998, will receive the Avijit Roy Courage Award for his role in protesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalism. 

David Tamayo is cofounder and president of Hispanic American Freethinkers. 

Phil Zuckerman, associate dean and professor of sociology at Pitzer College, who is author of many books on secularism and is the founding chair of the nation’s first Secular Studies Program at Pitzer College. 

Other speakers will be confirmed shortly and will include Freethinkers of the Year and student honorees. 

The 2020 convention set for San Antonio had to be canceled, but FFRF will hold its annual gathering there in 2022 and in Madison, Wis., in 2023. Author John Irving, who was slated to speak last year, is now scheduled to speak at the 2022 convention in San Antonio.

FFRF still hopeful for convention in Boston

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is still waiting to make a determination about the safety and viability of hosting the 2021 convention in Boston, but FFRF is cautiously optimistic as more people become vaccinated from Covid-19. 

The convention is scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 19-21 at the Boston Park Hotel.

FFRF hopes to make a decision by mid or late summer to know whether a national conference will be practical and safe. FFRF encourages you to hold that weekend open, and will let you know as soon as we know whether we can hold a post-pandemic “bash” this year!

The roster includes the incredible lineup of authors Margaret Atwood, Gloria Steinem, John Irving, Katherine Stewart and Phil Zuckerman, Hispanic American Freethinkers’ founder David Tamayo, New York Times court columnist Linda Greenhouse and Black Skeptics Los Angeles founder Sikivu Hutchinson. Unfortunately, entertainer John Davidson has backed out due to another obligation that has come up.

Look for updates and announcements in future issues of Freethought Today and on our website, ffrf.org/convo-2021.

We look forward to holding a post-pandemic celebratory bash with these powerhouse speakers and seeing you there, when it’s safe.

Please keep in mind future convention sites and dates: Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk, Oct. 28-30, 2022, and Monona Terrace Convention Center/Hilton Madison Monona Terrace, Oct. 13-15, 2023.

FFRF’s convention in Boston still TBD

But save the dates!

Weekend of Nov. 19-21 at Boston Park Hotel

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is cautiously optimistic that its 2021 national convention — scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 19-21 at the Boston Park Hotel, Boston — may take place. But, as Dr. Anthony Fauci wisely advises, we must “Let the science speak.”

FFRF, like the rest of the nation, awaits pandemic mitigation developments and advice, and hopes by mid or late summer to know whether a national conference will be practical and safe. FFRF encourages you to hold that weekend open, and will let you know as soon as we know whether we can hold a post-pandemic “bash” this year!

The amazing roster still includes authors Margaret Atwood, Gloria Steinem, John Irving, Katherine Stewart and Phil Zuckerman, entertainer John Davidson, Hispanic American Freethinkers’ founder David Tamayo, New York Times court columnist Linda Greenhouse and Black Skeptics Los Angeles founder Sikivu Hutchinson.

Look for updates and announcements in future issues of Freethought Today and on our website, ffrf.org/convo-2021.

We look forward to holding a post-pandemic celebratory bash with these powerhouse speakers and seeing you there, when it’s safe.

Please keep in mind future convention sites and dates: Hyatt Regency San Antonio Riverwalk, Oct. 28-30, 2022, and Monona Terrace Convention Center/Hilton Madison Monona Terrace, Oct. 13-15, 2023.