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Convention 2005 Archive

The American Atheists 31st Convention in Philadelphia is over.

We have many photos generously contributed by Ellen Johnson, Edwin Kagin, Tracy Martin, Bart Metlzer, Blair Scott, George Shiffer, and possibly others.

Below is the online program for this exciting event.

Convention 2005 - Philadelphia

Join us for the 31st Annual
National Convention of American Atheists
March 25 - 27, 2005
in Philadelphia, Pa.

The venue is the spectacular Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing right on the beautiful Delaware River! From here, you are close to downtown Philly with its impressive list of world-class Museums, restaurants, shopping attractions and historic sites the Liberty Bell, as well as the National Constitution Center.

Take advantage of our special Convention Rates which allow you to “come early – stay late” so you make your visit to Philadelphia a mini-vacation! And join us for three days of exciting Convention events, including talks, workshops, our special book and product area, dinners and awards banquet and social events.

Let’s Get Started…

Here are some details about the convention. Be sure to check back for more updates. Use these quick links to go to your area of interest.

Quick Links:

The Hotel

Hyatt Regency

The Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing is located at 201 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19106. You must make your lodging reservations directly with the hotel! Be sure to mention that you are attending the American Atheists Convention so you will qualify for our special convention rates! The hotel phone number is 215-928-1234. Fax: 215-521-6600.

Room Rates are:

TRIPLE: $124
Additional tax of 14% applies.

The deadline for room reservations is March 9, 2020.

You can upgrade to special River View rooms or Business Plan – Executive King rooms for an additional $25 per night. Business Plan rooms include access to high-speed internet ($90.95/day), full American breakfast and “no access” charge for all 800 and local phone calls. Executive King rooms are king corner rooms with 4 window views of either the Delaware River or the Philadelphia skyline.

PARKING: Self-parking per day, $15.00; Valet Parking, $20. (Prices subject to change).

Convention Registration Rates:

Individual American Atheist Member Registration -- $75
Couple Members -- $110
Non-member but in an American Atheist Affiliated Group -- $85
Senior (Age 65 and over, photo ID at registration desk) -- $55
Student (photo ID, please, at registration desk) -- $55
Non-member -- $100
One Day Only registration (member or non-member) -- $50
All youth 18 years and under attending -- $20 each.

Convention Speakers:

Confirmed speakers included - come back - more speakers will be added soon.

DR. DAVID ELLER holds a doctoral degree in anthropology from Boston University and spent two years living in Australia among the Aboriginals, researching their traditional and contemporary religion. He teaches anthropology in Denver, Colorado, specializing in ethnic groups and conflicts, violence and culture, popular culture, culture change, and anthropology of religion.

Dr. Eller is the author of numerous articles and essays and of two published books, From Culture to Ethnicity to Conflict: An Anthropological Perspective on International Ethnic Conflict (University of Michigan Press, 1999) and Natural Atheism (American Atheist Press, 2004). He also has two more books forthcoming, both from Wadsworth Publishing-- Violence and Culture: An Interdisciplinary and Cross-Cultural Approach and Culture and the Real World: Core Concepts of Anthropology Applied to Contemporary World Issues. He is currently working on a book on the anthropological study of religion, entitled Culture to the Ultimate.

Dr. Eller is the coordinator of the Atheists and Freethinkers of Denver and former Colorado State Director of American Atheists. There will be a book signing of Natural Atheism with Dr. Eller at the Convention. Dr. Eller’s talk is titled “Natural Atheism: Our Godless Birth and Why It Is Right.”

LARRY BEINHART is best known for the novel Wag the Dog “the most brilliant political satire of the last decade. (Amazon),” that became the film of that name. His most recent novel is The Librarian, “a serious critique of the electoral process, the American power structure and the real-life conduct of both President Bush and the news media. … devastating (Neil Genzlinger, NY Times),” “as funny as anything by George Carlin and as scary as a Dick Cheney smirk — prescient and frightening — (Peter Mergendahl, Rocky Mountain News),” “think John Grisham meets Jon Stewart (Eric Bates, Rolling Stone),” “the most important piece of political fiction of the 21st Century (Stephen Crocket, Democratic Talk Radio).”

He is the author of six other novels and several screenplays. His non-fiction and op-ed pieces have appeared in Esquire, the NY Times, the LA Times, the International Herald Tribune, Newsday, and the Baltimore Sun among others.

He is a Fulbright Fellow and has won an Edgar, been nominated for two more, won a Golden Dagger, listed as one of the NY Times notable books of the year and has also awards for TV commercials. He has lectured at Oxford, been a political consultant and a ski instructor in New York, Vermont and France.

ALTON LEMON was the lead plaintiff in the historic 1971 U.S. Supreme Court decision LEMON v. KURTZMAN which bolstered the application of the First Amendment and led to the creation of the “Lemon Test” for analysis of state-church separation principles in litigation. Its value in protecting our First Amendment freedoms was underscored when in 1993 Justice Antonin Scalia described the decision as “some ghoul in a late-night horror movie.”

The case involved laws in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island that subsidized the salaries of teachers in private elementary schools, the vast majority of which were operated by the Roman Catholic Church. In 1968, more than $5 million had been given to more than a thousand nonpublic elementary and secondary schools, most of them religious. Mr. Lemon risked his job (his boss was Catholic) and community opprobrium by heading the roster of plaintiffs challenging this unconstitutional practice.

Thanks to the efforts of Alton Lemon and others, the U.S. Supreme Court struck (on paper) the unconstitutional practice of using tax money to subsidize religious schools. It also codified existing precedent concerning the Establishment Clause through the “Lemon Test” or “Three Prong Test” which state that any practice of the government:

  1. Must have a secular legislative purpose;
  2. Must have the principal or primary effect of neither advancing nor inhibiting religion;
  3. Must not foster “excessive entanglement” between church and state.

We honor ALTON LEMON for his commitment to civil liberties and the separation of government and religion!

SETH ASSER, M.D. is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and the sub-Board in Critical Care. Currently, he is a Pediatrician in Providence, RI.

Dr. Asser has been professionally involved with issues of child abuse and neglect for over 17 years as a practitioner, consultant and educator. He has served on the Child Fatality Review Committees in three states. He is medical consultant to Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty (CHILD), Inc, an Iowa-based non-profit organization which seeks to ensure that children receive appropriate and timely medical care for serious and life threatening illnesses regardless of the religious preferences of their parents. The group seeks to repeal state laws that exempt parents from the duty to provide medical care should they prefer to seek non-medical, religious rituals for ill children. His study entitled “Child Fatalities from Religion Motivated Medical Neglect” described 172 cases of childhood deaths and was published in the April 1998 issue of Pediatrics.

In 2004 Dr. Asser was presented with the Imogene H. Johnson Friend of Children Award for his longtime support of the work of CHILD, Inc. and his successful effort to repeal religious exemption laws in Rhode Island.

Dr. Asser’s talk is titled “Accommodating Religion vs. Child Protection: Are parents free to make martyrs of their children?”

PASTOR DEACON FRED (reputed to be a former expelled student from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University named “Chris Harper”) is head of Landover Baptist Church, creator of and co-author of the satirical WHITE HOUSE INC. EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK: A Staffer’s Guide to Success, Profit and Eternal Salvation Inside George W. Bush’s Executive Branch.

Pastor Deacon Fred’s 60-Second Sermons are heard on hell-bound, secular radio stations throughout our “Godly Nation.” The Good Reverent will be on hand at the American Atheists Convention to deliver his annual message of religious hysteria and sign your Gideon bibles before you pitch them down the laundry chutes.

The good Pastor was gracious enough to show up at the November, 2002 Godless Americans March on Washington where he condemned both Secularist Slackers as well as “Namby Pamby Christians.”

There will be a book signing for Pastor Deacon Fred following his Convention sermon.

JACK W. GERMOND is one of the living legends of contemporary American journalism. He has been a newspaperman for more than 50 covering political affairs for the Gannet Newspapers, Baltimore Sun and Washington Star.

With Jules Witcover, Germond wrote the popular “Politics Today” syndicated column carried by Tribune News Services. There are authors of Blue Smoke & Mirrors: How Reagan Won and Why Carter Lost the Election of 1980, Mad As Hell: Revolt at the Ballot Box 1992, and other topic books. Mr. Germond’s latest book, Fat Man in A Middle Seat: Forty Years of Covering Politics is an autobiographical survey of his four decades as a political reporter.

Germond has also been a regular guest on public affairs television programs including “The McLaughlin Group.” He is now a regular panelist on “Inside Washington.” He is a native of Boston, and a graduate of the University of Missouri with degrees in journalism and history.

There will be an author signing with Mr. Germond at the Convention.

BRIAN FLEMMING is an award-winning film director and playwright whose cutting-edge and often provocative work has generated accolades from critics.

Mr. Flemming attended the University of California at Irvine, and became a script reader for New Line Cinema while making his first feature film, “Hang Your Dog in the Wind.”

He co-founded the one-time film festival in Park City, “Slumdance,” which spawned a host of imitators. His next major project was the stage musical “Bat Boy,” based on the imaginative tale about a half-bat half-boy that appeared in the Weekly World News. The production won LA Weekly’s Musical of the Year award, four Ovation Award nomination and six Drama-Logue Awards. He followed this “giggling cult hit” with a more provocative faux documentary about the assassination of Bill Gates titled “Nothing So Strange,” which critics acclaimed as “the ideal prototype film for the digital age.”

Flemming has also become a leader in “open source” projects and an activist over copyright issues. He founded the group Free Cinema which encourages prospective filmmakers to make their own innovative films that include the commitment to “copylefted” status, i.e., open source. He also heads Free Use Press; has worked as a news photographer and awards-show writer; and is the creator of the radio documentary “The Rabbi v. Larry Flynt,” a documentary about a debate on pornography.

Other credits include “Split Screen,” a 1997 television series, and stunt roles in “Normal Life” (1996) and "Rudy) (1993).

Brian Flemming is now at work on his most ambitious project to date, the film “The Beast” scheduled for release in 2006. The story tells of a Christian high school student Danielle whose father, a Biblical scholar, mysteriously disappears. When she investigates, she discovers that he had stumbled across a cover-up of Christianity’s best-kept secret: That Jesus Christ never existed.

“Now that she possesses proof of this dangerous fact, Danielle must confront two strong forces: A band of fundamentalist Christians who will stop at nothing to suppress the truth, and her own desire for Jesus Christ to be real...”

THE BEAST promises to be a controversial epic, diving into the factual territory well explored by scholars but largely hidden from the view of the public. It is a story of innocence lost, faith in crisis, and the astonishing power of truth to survive.

ALBERT RIBA I CAÑARDO — “Situation and perspectives of the relationship between State and Church in Spain, and in the European context”.

Albert Riba was born in Barcelona (Spain) the 8th September 1947. He has a degree on Sociology for the University of Barcelona, and at the present is working as a Director of a public office in a small city near Barcelona. He is married and has a son and a daugther.

He is one of the founders, in 1994, of Catalonian Atheists (Ateus de Catalunya) a regional organization in Spain based in Barcelona, and has been its president since then. He is also president of the Spanish Atheist and Freethinkers Society (Unión de Ateos y Librepensadores de España), a young organization that started running last year and is growing faster on the whole Spainish country.

ARLO PIGNOTTI — His presentation, “Holy Paraphernalia Mania III” is his latest in a series of ‘show and tell’ of authentic religious relics from religious stores that will make you laugh and roll your eyes. Mecca Cola, Savior Sneakers, even inflatable churches! You name it, Arlo continues to find the craziest paraphernalia on the market for God!

Convention Schedule

Thursday, March 24
6 to 9 PMPre-registration
Friday, March 25
10 AM to 4 PMOral Histories
8:00 to 9:00 AMState Directors Meeting
9:00 to 9:15 AMPennsylvania State Director Lorie Polansky
9:15 to 9:45 AMEllen Johnson
9:45 to 10:00 AMIntroduction of State Directors
10:00 to 10:45 AMPanel Discussion
10:45 to 11:15 AMBreak
11:15 to 12:15 PMJack Germond, author of Fat Man Fed Up
12:15 to 1:30 PMBook Signing. Lunch
1:30 to 2:15 PMScouting For All — Robert Raketty
2:15 to 3:00 PMChris Harper
3:00 to 3:30 PMBreak and Book Signing
3:30 to 4:30 PMFrank Zindler, “Atheism As It Ought To Be: The Indian Atheist Centre As Full-Service Institution”
4:30 PMBook Signing
6:30 to 7:00 PMCocktail Hour
7:00 to 11:00 PMDinner, Awards, Scholarship Winner, Lori Lynner
Saturday, March 26
10 AM to 4 PMOral Histories
8:00 to 9:00 AMState Directors Meeting
9:00 10:00 AMDr. Seth Asser, “Accomodating Religion vs. Child Protections: Are parents free to make martyrs of their children?”
10:00 to 10:45 AMAlton Lemon. Lemon v. Kurtzman
10:45 to 11:15 AMBreak
11:15 to 12:15 PMLarry Beinhart
12:15 to 1:30 PMLunch
1:30 to 2:15 PM Arlo Pignotti, “Holy Paraphernalia Mania Part III ”
2:15 to 3:15 PMDavid Eller, “Natural Atheism: Our Godless Birth and Why It Is Right?”
3:15 to 3:45 PMBook Signing and break
3:45 to 4:45 PMAlbert Riva I Canardo, president Catalonian Atheists. “Situation and perspectives of the relationship between State and Church in Spain, and in the European context.”
Life and Legacy Members Dinner
6:30 to 7:00 PMCocktail Hour (Moshulu)
7:00 to 9:00 PMDinner (Moshulu)
9:00 to 11:00 PMBrian Fleming “Was Jesus?”
Sunday, March 27
9:00 to 10:30 AMMAAF Meeting
10:30 to 12:00 PMAffiliates Meeting
12:30 PMBoard the Spirit Of Philadelphia
4:00 PMMembers Meeting
7:00 PMBoard Meeting

Dinner at the Convention:

The high point of the Convention is the Annual Members Dinner which includes an awards program, including the Atheist of the Year. There is also a Life Members and Legacy Program Dinner open to all Life Members of American Atheists, and those who have contributed $450 or more in the last calendar year, thus qualifying them as Legacy Program members. Those who have been members of American Atheists for ten years or more are automatically included in the Legacy Program. They are eligible to attend the Life Members & Legacy Program Dinner, as are all State and Regional Directors of American Atheists., Board Members, and employees

The Annual Members Dinner takes place in the magnificent Riverview Room at the Hyatt on Friday, March 25, 2020 beginning at 7:00 PM. Appropriate dress is requested. The cost is $40. The buffet-style menu (subject to change) includes:

Tossed Greens with Assorted Dressing
Pasta with Marinara Sauce and Grilled Chicken
Sliced Roast Beef with Mushrooms
Red Jacket Potatoes
Rolls and Butter
Assorted Desserts
Freshly Brewed Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee and Assorted Teas

The Life Members & Legacy Program Dinner will be held on March 26, 2020 onboard the spectacular sailing ship, MOSHULU. The Moshulu is a brief walk from the Hyatt, and is moored right on the Delaware Riverfront. The cost is $40 and the event begins at 7:00 PM. Appropriate dress is requested. The buffet menu (subject to change) includes:

Mixed Seasonal Greens with Dijon Vinaigrette Dressing
Duet Entrée –
Lancaster Free Range Chicken Breast and Jail Island Salmon with Potato Puree and Creamed Swiss Chard and Baby Carrots, Vermouth Buerre Blanc Apple Galette with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce
Coffee, Tea

A Spectacular Sunday Cruise on the Magnificent Spirit of Philadelphia!

Once again, we offer you an incredible cruise opportunity which many have enjoyed so much at past conventions! Join us on Sunday, March 27, 2020 as we head out on the Spirit of Philadelphia for a leisurely buffet and sight-seeing tour of the historic Philadelphia Delaware River waterfront. Spirit Cruises is our host for this great event. The departure point is only a brief (under five minutes) walk from the Hyatt Regency. Board the Spirit of Philadelphia at 12:30 PM for the 1-3 PM excursion. The cost is only $40 per person.

You’ll enjoy the spectacular Philadelphia skyline, a buffet of tasty treats and a program of entertainment. In addition, to complement the ever-changing sights, a narrator will describe the highlights of the riverfront’s passing parade.

The Grand Buffet Lunch Cruise Menu on board the Spirit of Philadelphia includes

Farmstand Favorite – A Toss of Fresh Lettuce Greens and Chopped Veggies along with your choice of Balsamic Vinaigrette, Creamy Ranch or Caesar Dressings
Italian Pasta Salad – Freshly Cooked Pasta mixed and mingled with Green and Red Pepper, Celery, Sweet Onions and Savory Italian Dressing.
Tuna Salad – Finely Shredded Tuna Fillet and Corkscrew Pasta tossed with a Crunch of Celery and Mild Mayonaise
Potato Salad, Stuffed Sole Chesapeake – Tender Fillet of Sole stuffed with Chesapeake Bay Crabmeat and baked in a full-flavored White Wine Infusion
Seared Chicken Julienne – Thin Slices of Tender White Chicken pan-seared with Fire-Roasted Pepper and Onion Strips a la Julienne
Citrus Chicken Wings; Szechwan Beef & Vegetables

Fluffy White Rice; Green Beans & Baby Parisian Carrots
Freshly-baked Rolls with Sweet Cream Butter
Assorted Desserts including Crème Brulee Cheesecake topped with a thin layer of Vanilla Bean Custard and Tantalizing Toffee Shell of Caramelized Sugar
Chocolate Mousse Cake layered with a rich Chocolate Mousse topped with Chocolate Ganache

Other Meetings

The American Atheist Convention will host an annual meeting for the MILITARY ASSOCIATION OF ATHEISTS & FREETHINKERS (MAAF) on Sunday, March 27, 2020 from 9:00 – 10:30 AM in the William Penn Boardroom

There will be a meeting of the American Atheist Affiliates on Sunday, March 27, 2020 in the William Penn Boardroom from 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM.

There will also be meetings for State and Regional Directors in the William Penn Boardroom on Friday, March 25, 2020 from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM and on Saturday, March 26, 2020 from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM.

Here are some helpful links:

  • Philadelphia Vacation and Travel Planning Guide. Don't miss the photo gallery.
  • Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. They have a very nice slide show.
  • Pennsylvania Visitors Network
  • Philadelphia Connections


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