University of Wisconsin–Madison
Lindsey Doe talking at FTF6

Lindsey Doe, Freethought Festival 6

A picture of AHA officers Emily and Melissa
A picture of Karen Garst's talk

Karen Garst, Freethought Festival 6

Freethought Festival 7


Friday March 16th

Time Speaker Talk Title
5:00 PM Emily Pyszora Introduction to AHA
5:45 PM Joe Elder World Religions and LGBTQ Issues
6:45 PM Natalie Newell From Skepticism 101 to Science Moms
7:45 PM Sikivu Hutchinson Black Feminism and Freethought
8:45 PM Daniel Whiteson What does Science Know?

Saturday March 17th

Time Speaker Talk Title
12:00 PM Debbie Goddard Citizen Skeptic
1:00 PM Candace Gorham Guilt, Shame, and Psychological Pain
2:00 PM Anthony B. Pinn Humanism and the Challenge of Race
3:00 PM Vivienne Anderson Jesus F**cking Christ
4:00 PM Steven Landsburg Truth, Provability and the Fabric of the Universe
5-6:30 PM Dinner
6:30 PM Abby Hafer Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong
7:30 PM Lucien Greaves Ending Pseudoscience & Theocracy: Grey Faction and The Satanic Temple
8:30 PM Stewart Huff A Comedy Show


Freethought Festival 7 was held at:

Symphony Room
Gordon Dining and Event Center,
770 W Dayton Street,
Madison, WI,

You can find more information about parking here.


Sikivu Hutchinson

Sikivu Hutchinson is an American feminist, atheist, author/novelist and playwright. She is the author of “White Nights, Black Paradise” (2015), Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels (2013), Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics, and the Values Wars (2011), and Imagining Transit: Race, Gender, and Transportation Politics in Los Angeles (Travel Writing Across the Disciplines) (2003). Moral Combat is the first book on atheism to be published by an African-American woman. In 2013 she was named Secular Woman of the year and was awarded Foundation Beyond Belief’s 2015 Humanist Innovator award, and the Secular Student Alliance’s 2016 Backbone award.

Talk title: Black Feminism and Freethought
Time: Friday 7:45pm

A picture of Sikivu Hutchinson

Lucien Greaves

Lucien Greaves, also known as Douglas Mesner, is a social activist and the spokesman and co-founder of The Satanic Temple. Greaves has appeared in numerous media outlets and has made televised appearances on the Fox News Network. He is a public speaker and essayist who has contributed articles to publications including Skeptic Magazine, Skeptical Inquirer, The Washington Post, International Business Times.

Talk title: Ending Pseudoscience & Theocracy: Grey Faction and The Satanic Temple
Time: Saturday 7:30pm

A picture of Lucien Greaves holding a skull.

Stewart Huff

Stewart Huff has been performing comedy for over 20 years, beginning when he decided to drop out of college to become a writer. Currently touring theatres, comedy clubs and anything in between across the country, Huff reaches past the norm for his genuine — and genuinely unexpected — comedy. His knack for embracing the foibles of humanity and his refreshing originality make him as likeable as he is hilarious. A storyteller at heart, Huff continues to amaze with his clever material and personal wit. Huff has performed in comedy clubs nationally and internationally, including the Improv in Los Angeles and New York, the Punchline in Atlanta and the Funny Bone in Omaha, as well as countless others.
A finalist in the 2006 Boston Comedy Festival, Huff was also invited to perform in the HBO Las Vegas Festival, where his act can be viewed on pay-per-view. Stewart was also the 2016 Critics Choice of the Best Comedy at the Orlando Fringe Festival. He has credits for writing for NPR and Adult Swim.

Talk title: A Comedy Show
Time: Saturday 8:30pm

A picture of Stewart Huff

Joe Elder

Joe Elder is a professor of sociology, languages and cultures of Asia, and integrated liberal studies, at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. He has been teaching at the University for 56 years. Aside from teaching, he’s been involved in preparing students to spend a year abroad in India or Nepal; mentoring struggling doctoral candidates; starting a certificate program for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies; and producing documentaries about South Asia.

Talk title: World Religions and LGBTQ Issues
Time: Friday 5:45pm

A picture of Joe Elder

Natalie Newell

Natalie is the director and producer of the Science Moms documentary, and former producer and co-host of The Science Enthusiast Podcast. Natalie holds a M.Ed. and worked for a decade in the field of Montessori education before choosing to become a stay-at-home parent, while simultaneously pursuing her interests in the areas of science communication and secular activism.

Talk title: From Skepticism 101 to Science Moms
Time: Friday 6:45pm

A picture of Natalie Newell

Daniel Whiteson

Professor Whiteson’s research is in the field of Experimental High Energy Physics. He is interested in probing the structure of matter and the nature of its interactions at the very smallest scales, to understand the fundamental nature of our universe. His research uses the LHC to investigate the basic building blocks of the Universe around us, hoping to find new kinds of particles or interactions and reveal a deeper and simpler layer underlying our reality. Whiteson’s research has appeared widely in popular media outlets including The New Yorker, Ars Technica, VICE and many others. Along with his colleagues he created popular comics including “What’s in the data? The Higgs Boson Explained” and “True Tales of Dark Matters,” which were all featured on PBS. Upon receiving his Ph.D. in Physics from UC Berkeley, Dr. Whiteson was appointed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. He came to UCI in 2007 where he received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research.

Talk title: What does Science Know?
Time: Friday 8:45pm

A picture of Daniel Whiteson

Debbie Goddard

Debbie Goddard is an American atheist activist and speaker, and the director of African Americans for Humanism (AAH). Since 2006, she has worked at the Center for Inquiry, a secular advocacy and pro-science nonprofit organization, where she is currently the coordinator of the campus outreach program, CFI On Campus.

Talk title: Citizen Skeptic
Time: Saturday 12:00pm

A picture of Debbie Goddard

Candace Gorham

Candace received her Bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education from North Carolina Central University. She received her Master’s degree in mental health counseling from Wake Forest University. Candace’s religious background is varied, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and Methodist. Becoming involved in and leading extremist activities such as casting out demons, fasting for weeks at a time and faith healing, Candace was a believer’s believer. Suffering with major depression to the point of being suicidal and facing severe financial hardships, Candace thought that she must have been doing something wrong. She dove into studying the Bible more than ever before, and became disillusioned with the contradictions and blatant errancy she found. From a place of empathy and compassion, Candace decided to start the Ebony Exodus Project which aims to highlight the harmful effects of religion on all believers, but especially for black women. In addition to ongoing work as a counselor, Candace is a member of The Clergy Project and the Secular Therapist Project.

Talk title: Guilt, Shame, and Psychological Pain
Time: Saturday 1:00pm

A picture of Candace Gorham

Anthony B. Pinn

Dr. Pinn is a professor, author, and public intellectual working at the intersections of African-American religion, constructive theology, and humanist thought. Pinn is the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University. He is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning in Houston, Texas, and Director of Research for the Institute for Humanist Studies in Washington, D.C. He earned his Ph.D. in the Study of Religion at Harvard University in 1994.

Talk title: Humanism and the Challenge of Race
Time: Saturday 2:00pm

A picture of Anthony B. Pinn.

Vivienne Anderson

Vivienne Anderson is a transgender woman who was previously a pastor. She is now a realtor living in the Madison area but has experience giving talks for rural/healthcare divide organization and other speaking engagements throughout the state.

Talk title: Jesus F**cking Christ
Time: Saturday 3:00pm

A picture of Vivienne Anderson

Steven Landsburg

Steven E. Landsburg is a Professor of Economics at the University of Rochester, where students recently elected him Professor of the Year. He is the author of The Armchair Economist, Fair Play, More Sex is Safer Sex, The Big Questions, two textbooks in economics, a forthcoming textbook on general relativity and cosmology, and over 30 journal articles in mathematics, economics and philosophy. His current research is in the area of quantum game theory. He writes the monthly “Everyday Economics” column in Slate magazine, and has written regularly for Forbes and occasionally for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. He appeared as a commentator on the PBS/Turner Broadcasting series “Damn Right”, and has made over 200 appearances on radio and television broadcasts over the past few years.

Talk title: Truth, Provability and the Fabric of the Universe
Time: Saturday 4:00pm

A picture of Steven Landsburg

Abby Hafer

Dr. Abby Hafer is the author of The Not-So-Intelligent Designer—Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not. She has a doctorate in zoology from Oxford University and teaches human anatomy and physiology at Curry College.

Talk title: Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong
Time: Saturday 6:30pm

A picture of Abby Hafer


Freethought Festival is a free, student-run freethinking convention held annually in Madison, Wisconsin. It is organized and hosted by Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Authors, bloggers, activists, and scientists from around the country give talks relating to atheism, freethinking, skepticism, science, and secularism. The event is funded by AHA through an annual operations budget received from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Harassment policy

Freethought Festival is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference at the discretion of the organizers.

Harassment includes offensive verbal comments, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention. Assuming the absence of problematic behavior (intimidation, following, inappropriate physical contact, etc.), criticism or disagreement regarding an attendee’s belief structure will not be construed as harassment. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

Exhibitors, sponsors, and volunteers are subject to the anti-harassment policy as well.

If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the conference. If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff immediately.

Conference staff will be happy to help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance.

Disability accommodations

The 80 is a free bus that provides transportation around campus; it’s fully equipped to accommodate people in wheelchairs, and it drops off across the street from Gordon. The 80 route can be found at this url:

If you have any questions about taking the 80 or getting around town in general, any AHA officers (wearing lanyards with their names) are UW Madison students and will either be able to answer your question or find someone who can.

The conference location is located on the second floor of the Gordon Dining and Events Center in the Symphony Room and is accessible by elevator.

The chairs in the conference room are not connected to the ground and can be moved to allow seating for a person in a wheelchair; we don’t have a specified seating section for disabled guests, so you can pick your own seat.

If you require other accommodations at Freethought Festival, you can let an AHA officer know at the registration table, or talk to any AHA officer throughout the conference and they’ll be happy to help. If you need assistance or need to request an accommodation while off-site you can call 608-381-5715 or you can email to reach AHA’s Vice President.