University of Wisconsin–Madison

Introducing: The Freethought Festival!

Eleven months ago, leaders from Skeptic/Humanist/Atheist/Agnostic/Freethinking organizations from around the state of Wisconsin descended upon Madison to concoct a plan.  With the help of Fred Edwords and the UCOR, we aimed to advance the many shared goals of these groups by fostering a greater degree of cooperation between them.  Together, we founded the Madison Area Coalition of Reason. Moving forward, how could we effectively get the word out about “MadCoR?” Billboards and Bus Ads, often deployed with great success by the Coalition of Reason, have already been used so effectively by the FFRF in the Madison area, that such a campaign would hardly be newsworthy.

Then, inspired by the Skepticon model, I thought, why not host our own conference?
And make it totally free to attend.
After nearly one year of planning, I am very proud to announce the fruits of our significant labors:
The Freethought Festival!
We have put together a stellar lineup of speakers from the movement, including:

Annie Laurie Gaylor, with Dan Barker, is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Author of several books, including: Woe To The Women: The Bible Tells Me So,  and Women Without Superstition: ‘No Gods, No Masters’.

D. J. Grothe, formerly a professional magician, now president of the James Randi Educational Foundation. Well known host of the “For Good Reason” and “Point of Inquiry” podcasts. 

Hemant Mehta is a high school math teacher from Naperville, IL and blogger at  Author of I Sold My Soul on eBay.

Kevin Padian is the president of NCSE’s board of directors and an international expert on the evolution of vertebrates, about which he testified in the Dover, Pennsylvania trial on “intelligent design” in 2005.

PZ Myers has been among the fiercest, most public critics of religion and pseudoscience on his wildly popular blog,

Sean Faircloth is the author of the newly released book Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right Harms Us All and What to Do About It. Previously served in the Maine House of Reps, and as Executive Director of Secular Coalition for America.  Currently Director of Strategy and Policy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason.

Plus a ton of other fantastic speakers – an exciting mixture of new faces and many more familiar names: Darrel Ray, JT Eberhard, Lyz Liddell, Matt Dillahunty, Richard Carrier, to name a few… and then 10 more speakers after that!  With a lineup of 21 speakers presenting over the course of three days – this makes the Freethought Festival the largest and most ambitious free atheist conference ever attempted.    

From the beginning, we have been committed making the Freethought Festival a totally free conference to attend. I have operated with a “Field of Dreams” approach to raising the required funds (if you build it…), guided by two simple principles:

  1. That no one should excluded from participating in a conference due to financial constraints.
  2. That those who are able to financially support the movement, ought to support it, and will.
So what are you waiting for?  Go check out the official Freethought Festival Website, and make sure to Register Today, as spaces are limited.
I hope you’ll join us!

1 thought on “Introducing: The Freethought Festival!”

  1. Do you have have any "lessons learned" or a primer for someone wanting to start a similar event in another region? I'm going to look back through your site for just such information, but I thought I'd ask in the meantime. I don't know if I'm willing to make this commitment, but I'm thinking about it.

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