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The 29th Annual National Convention Of
April 18-20, 2003 -- Chicago, Illinois
Indian Lakes Resort

Added 25-April-2003: Photos of the convention. Includes speakers, members' dinner and awards, and Lake Michigan cruise. See below of speaker bios, etc.

Below is the original online program for this convention.

Quick Jump

AMERICAN ATHEISTS comes back to the Windy City for a weekend packed with exciting events including tours, speakers, awards banquet, social events and much more!

Who could ask for a better venue? Make a "mini-vacation" of your convention weekend with trips to the Field Museum featuring the spectacular dinosaur exhibit with "T-Rex Sue," the renowned Adler Planetarium, Museum of Science and Industry, The Art Institute of Chicago plus great eateries, music venues and other tourist attractions!

The American Atheists Conventions always feature a cutting-edge program of speakers, panels, workshops and other events! This is the 29th annual National Convention, and it promises to be our best yet!


* Join us as we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision in MURRAY v. CURLETT, the ruling that helped over turn coercive organized prayer and Bible verse recitation in our taxpayer supported public school system! This was a historic case for Atheist civil rights and the First Amendment separation of government and religion.

All you expect from an AMERICAN ATHEISTS Convention!

* An exciting program of informative speakers!

* Extensive book and product area featuring videos, gifts and so much more!

* Social events including the informal and popular Thursday night "jump start," dinners, the Report From The President, Life Member's Dinner and American Atheists Awards Banquet!

Please note: The last day to make meal reservations is April 14th.


Join us at the spectacular Indian Lakes Resort outside of Chicago for what promises to be our biggest and most successful convention yet! This 260-acre destination venue includes oversized guest rooms, two restaurants, indoor swimming pool, spa and much more. You're just minutes from the METRA transit line which whisks you into Downtown Chicago and other tourist attractions throughout the area (free shuttle to and from the METRA station from the resort).

Learn more about this incredible convention facility including an on-line tour at The hotel is located at 250 W. Schick Road, Bloomingdale, Ill. 60106.

* You must make your reservations directly with the Indian Lakes Resort. Call them a 1800-334-3417. To qualify for our special rate, you must inform the operator that you are with the American Atheists National Convention. The special room rate is in effect from Monday, April 14, 2003 through Friday, April 25, 2020.

Your room rate includes a hot buffet breakfast in the Master's Clubhouse Restaurants. Children (4-12) years of age stay free at the Resort with adult, but would be charged $5 for each buffet meal.


* Rates are:

SINGLE $95/night

The cutoff for registration will be April 12, 2020. Reservations after that will be accepted on a space and rate availability basis.


Most Conventioneers arrive via plane and Chicago will be no exception. We encourage you to arrive/depart at O'Hare International Airport. Once there, you have several options on getting to the Indian Lakes Resort.

For those of you not wishing to rent a car at the Airport (a good option if you are extending your visit for tourism), "My Chauffeur" Limousine Service offers the best on shuttle service to Indian Lakes. The rate will be approximately $26 single, with additional passengers at about $7 each. This rate applies for the period covering 5 AM to approximately 11 PM. Make your reservations in advance with "My Chauffeur" by calling 1-800-244-6200.

Those arriving at Midway Airport will pay a higher fee beginning at approximately $36 with $7 per additional passenger up to four persons.

Again, we encourage you to fly into O'Hare Airport and consider using a rental car or "My Chauffeur."


KIMBERLY BLAKER is the editor and coauthor of The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America. She is a nationally syndicated writer whose articles have appeared in more than 90 publications including the national "Complete Woman Magazine." Her popular column "The Wall" is carried by magazines and newspapers throughout the nation. Ms. Blaker's commentaries have also appeared in Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, San Francisco Examiner and the Los Angeles Daily Journal.

She is also an "honoree" in the Annual Report on Anti-Catholicism of the paradoxically named Catholic League for Religious and Civil Liberties as a result of her exposure of that organization's agenda.

American Atheists will host an author book signing for Ms. Blaker following her talk at the Convention.

EDDIE TABASH is a Constitutional and Civil Rights Attorney from California who brings an important message to the Convention -- Electing Atheists To Public Office. The title of his talk is "How to Actually Run for Political Office." In the year 2000 elections, he finished second out of four candidates in a primary race for the California State Assembly. He was the only open Atheist to be a major contender for a state legislative seat.

Mr. Tabash has emerged as a key force in raising political awareness throughout America's diverse community of nonbelievers. He serves on the Platform Committee and State Central Committee of the California Democratic Party.

DR. ROBERT T. PENNOCK Associate Professor at Michigan State University, where he is on the faculty of the Lyman Briggs School, the Philosophy Department, the Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences, and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior Program.

He is also among the world's leading experts -- and critics -- on the "creationist" and "Intelligent Design movement. His seminal work, Tower Of Babel: The Evidence Against The New Creationism, dissects and evaluates the position of leading ID theorists, including Phillip Johnson, William Dembski and Alvin Plantinga.

Pennock received his B.A. (with Honors) in Biology and Philosophy from Earlham College in 1980, and took his Ph. D. in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh in 1991. Pennock speaks regularly around the country on issues of science and values, and was named a national Distinguished Lecturer by Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. His memberships include the American Philosophical Association; American Association for the Advancement of Science; History of Science Society; Philosophy of Science Association; and the Society for the Study of Evolution.

Dr. Pennock will speak on "Intelligent Design Creation and Its Critics."

"A new creationist movement has risen to prominence in the last decade which promotes a 'wedge' strategy to break apart materialism, overturn evolution, and to promote what they take to be the proper Christian foundations for science and culture," says Pennock. "This talk examines the activities and arguments of the intelligent design wedge and shows why critics from across the philosophical, theological and scientific spectrum have rejected it."

There will be an author book signing of Tower Of Babel following his talk to the Convention.

FRANK ZINDLER is the Director of the American Atheist Press, and Editor of the quarterly American Atheist Magazine. Mr. Zindler is an internationally renowned science writer and linguist, with an expertise in over two dozen contemporary and ancient languages. He is a former professor of biology and geology.

Frank Zindler is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society and the American Schools of Oriental Research. He is also a member and participant in the Jesus Seminar, a global community of scholars probing the early history of Christianity.

Mr. Zindler will be speaking about his new book, The Jesus The Jews Never Knew. This promises to be a seminal work in the debate concerning the historicity of the alleged Judeo-Christian messiah. Zindler excavates the historical record, examining in rigorous detail the Jewish writings from the early Christian era, and finds little evidence to support claims that "Jesus" was mentioned. American Atheists is proud to host a book signing for Frank Zindler following his talk.

ELLEN JOHNSON is President of American Atheists. She has served with the organization for over two decades, and since 1994 has co-hosted "The Atheist Viewpoint" television program carried on dozens of cable systems throughout the nation and on the internet.

Last year, Ms. Johnson served as Chairperson of the Godless American March on Washington (GAMOW) Task Force, which organized the first national gathering of diverse Atheist, Freethought and Secular Humanist groups in Washington, D.C. Her call for our nonbeliever community to "work together on the basis of mutual respect" struck a chord with thousands of nonbelievers throughout the nation.

Ellen Johnson is a frequent media guest on national and regional programs. She received her Masters Degree in Political Science from the prestigious New School for Social Research and is a second-generation Atheist.

ULRIKE TIETZE is a medical practitioner, and has served as an active member of the German Atheist group Bund Gegen Anpassung (Alliance Against Conformism). She was part of that groups international campaign against the criminal prosecution of Atheists under Germany's notorious "blasphemy" statutes.

Last year, Ms. Tietze spoke at the Franco-American International Colloquium on Separation of Church and State held at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. In her talk to the American Atheists Convention, she will describe the present status of Atheists and other nonbelievers in Germany including the enforced imposition of a church tax on millions of citizens by the German government.

FRED WHITEHEAD is an internationally distinguished historian on the history of Atheism, Freethought, Rationalism and related movements.

Dr. Whitehead took his doctorate at Columbia University in English Literature in 1972, and was a Fulbright Scholar at University College in London. Among his professional academic honors are membership in Phi Beta Kappa, a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship (1965); Danforth Fellow (1965) and affiliation with several cultural and historical learned societies. His writings have appeared in numerous publications including "Kansas history," "The Washington College Review," and "Quindaro Literary Magazine."

Dr. Whitehead is a cofounder of the Da Vinci Society which is devoted to organizing interdisciplinary seminars on medical and other scientific topics. In 1992, he co-edited the anthology "Freethought on the American Frontier."

After serving as Assistant Professor and later Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the Kansas University Medical Center, Fred Whitehead found himself in a dispute with that institution over its unconstitutional sponsorship of seminars and other activities dealing with "spirituality" and medicine. An international campaign was launched in defense of Dr. Whitehead, leading to a complaint being filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Unfortunately, the University prevailed. Today, Dr. Whitehead continues his writing and is an editor of numerous books and publications.

Dr. Whitehead speaks on "Freethought History in France," this following his recent trip to France and participation in an international freethought symposium.

NORMAL BOB SMITH is a freelance graphic artist, writer, creator and head of the complaint department at

According to his autobiography, he is also the "smart aleck anti-host" of another irreverent web site, where he illustrates his humorous Satan's Salvation comic strip, showcases an outrageous fan base, offers a large variety of Dress Up style fun pages and, finally, replies to an astonishing volume of hate mail, all in an unapologetic Atheist voice.

Mr. Smith has been condemned and threatened on the Mancow Muller radio show, verbally attacked by his parent's pastor, rejected by every magnet dye-cutting plant in the United States, and damned more times than he cares to remember.

He is also loved.

Normal Bob Smith speaks on ... well, you'll just have to see it!

DR. SCIENCE mixes a hearty blend of humor and scientific information in his wild and enlightening presentations. He tackles all of those pesky questions you might have about everything from mainstream science to those UFO's "frequently spotted by Kansas farmers and recreational chemical enthusiasts."

He is a self-described enigma wrapped in a lab coat! And he operates the Dr. Science web site for your edification.

It promises to be a wild, and informative presentation as Dr. Science ventures forth from his secret laboratory, the Fortress of Arrogance, to join us at the convention! The title of his talk is "Obsfucational Redundancy In the Lab and At Home."

HELEN RADKEY is an international renowned religion and genealogical researcher, writer and lecturer specializing in issues relating to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons.) Her provocative and controversial articles about that sect have appeared in the American press, and in 1998, the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome published on her Catholic-Mormon research.

Since 1999, Ms. Radkey has reported on the failure of the agreement signed by LDS leaders and Jewish organizations in which the Church promised to halt its proxy baptisms for deceased Jews. The practice continues, despite denials by the Mormon leadership.

The title of Ms. Radkey's talk is: "Saving the Dead - Mormon Style."

CONRAD GOERINGER is Editor of AANEWS and staff writer for the American Atheists Magazine. A former antiquarian book dealer and freelance reporter, his articles on science, politics and popular culture have appeared in numerous publications.

Mr. Goeringer's talk is titled: "Muhammad Is From Mars, Jesus Is From Venus -- Secularism, Pluralism and Taming Organized Religion." He examines the contrast between the beliefs of "muscular" religious movements such as militant Islam and fundamentalist Christianity with their counterparts which are held in check by secular institutions and traditions. Can the West, and especially America, continue to "tame" these sectarian groups and preserve tolerance, diversity and the First Amendment? And what do the 1939 World's Fair, the SuperBowl, M-TV, gay rights, evolution, the planet's tallest buildings, riots over Bible passages, a Stephen King novel and the debate over boxers-or-briefs have to do with all of this? Find out...



Forty years ago in a combined decision which included the historic MURRAY v. CURLETT case, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down coercive prayer and Bible verse recitation in the nation's taxpayer-supported public schools.

What's happened since then? The separation of church and state remains under attack, as political and religious interests promote vouchers, "special rights" for sectarian groups, and the faith-based initiatives. In schools, Atheist youngsters remain the target of "prayer bullying" as off-campus churches seek to turn classrooms into culture war battlefields over prayer, teaching evolution and sex education and other issues.

What's happened in the four decades since MURRAY?

A panel of American Atheist State Directors takes up this important question. Guest panelists include Larry Darby (Alabama); Shelly Hattan (Texas); Dave Silverman (New Jersey); Mike Rivers (Utah); and Dave Kong (California). Joining in the discussion is Duane Bucholtz, National Legal Director for American Atheists.


Last year's cruise of Boston Harbor was such a smash hit -- we had to do it again, this time in Chicago!

On Sunday, April 20, Conventioneers are invited to embark on a luxury tour of the Chicago waterfront on the majestic Odyssey II, the largest fine-dining cruise ship on the Great Lakes. The 200-foot-long Odyssey II includes three climate-controlled decks with rear open-air deck areas, plus an expansive Sky Deck.

We'll board charter buses starting at 10:30 AM and depart the Indian Lakes Resort at 11:00 AM Sunday morning and head for Navy Pier on the Chicago waterfront. Once aboard, indulge in the two-hour cruise which features a sumptuous buffet brunch, live jazz entertainment, and incredible views of the Chicago waterfront. This excursion provides memories that will last a lifetime, and a setting that only a true luxury vessel like the Odyssey II can provide!

The brunch on board the Odyssey II rivals anything served by a "landlubber'" gourmet restaurant. The Executive Chef and staff prepare a bountiful array of appetizers, entrees, salads and desserts sure to please any number of tastes. Choose from salads, breakfast, and a smorgasbord of entrees including Lamb Casserole, Jerk Roasted Chicken, Atlantic Salmon, Whole Roasted Sirloin and much more!

The trip includes your round-trip bus transportation to Navy Pier and back to the Indian Lakes Resort. Once again, we are offering a special rate just for the American Atheists National Convention. Pamper yourself! Indulge, and bring the convention weekend and your visit to the Windy City to a memorable close by joining us for this spectacular tour on the Great Lakes!

Limited Availability -- First Come Basis!

Special rate: $69 per person.


Help make this convention a success by "spreading the word!" Link to this page from your web site. A simple text link will do, but feel free to use these:

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The American Atheists Oral History Project

Recording Your Atheist History For Posterity

One of the goals of the Charles E. Stevens American Atheists Library and Archives is to provide you with an opportunity to have your oral history recorded and preserved for posterity. It is important that you leave a record of what life was like for you, as an Atheist. There is no other such undertaking of its kind anywhere. Future generations will have the valuable opportunity to be able to reflect on who the Atheists or our era were, how they lived -- and in their own words.

At this year's 29th National Convention of American Atheists, Mr. Bart Meltzer will be videotaping the oral histories of conventioneers. A sign-up sheet will be available at the registration desk, and appointments for recording made on a first-come, first-serve basis. A list of questions will be provided in advance of the taping so that you can prepare your responses.

They are:

  • Your name
  • Your place of birth
  • Were you reared in a religious or non-religious home? If religious, what religion?
  • Are you a first, second or third generation Atheist?
  • What has been the most significant influence on your Atheism?
  • What has life been like for you as an Atheist in America?
  • In the time remaining for this interview, is there anything you would like to add?

The service is free for members of American Atheists. There is a $25 charge for nonmembers.

The oral history recordings will only be made at the annual national Convention of American Atheists. So join us as we inaugurate this important new project to preserve the legacy of Atheism!

Preliminary Schedule
Friday, April 18, 2020
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Oral History Project recordings (room to be announced)
8:00 AM - 9:00 AM State Directors Meeting (room to be announced)
9:00 AM - 9:15 AM Welcoming remarks, convention opening, Illinois State Director Sandra Van Maren
9:15 AM - 10:00 AM Keynote address, American Atheists President Ellen Johnson
10:00 AM - 11:00 AMHelen Radkey, "Saving the Dead, Mormon Style"
11:00 AM - 11:15 AMBreak
11:15 AM - 11:30 AMGAMOW video clip
11:30 AM - 12:30 PMDr. Robert T. Pennock, "Intelligent Design Creation and its Critics," followed by book signing.
12:30 - 2:00 PMLunch (on your own)
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM Conrad Goeringer, "Muhammed is from Mars, Jesus is from Venus"
3:00 PM - 4:00 PMNormal Bob Smith of
4:00 PM - 4:15 PM Break
4:15 PM - 5:00 PM GAMOW video clip
5:00 - 6:00 PMUlrike Tietze of the German "Alliance Against Conformism"
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM Cocktail Hour in the Hotel Bar
7:00 PM - 11:00 PM-- Members' Dinner and Award Presentation, Video Tour of the American Atheists Center
Saturday, April 19, 2020
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Oral History Project recordings (room to be announced)
8:00 AM -9:00 AM State Directors Meeting (room to be announced)
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Fred Whitehead - "Freethought History in France"
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM Frank Zindler, "The Jesus the Jews never Knew" followed by author book signing
11:00 AM - 11:15 AM Break
11:15 AM - 11:30 AM GAMOW video clip
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM Kimberly Blaker, "The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America," followed by author book signing
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM Lunch (on your own)
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM Eddie Tabash, "How To Run For Political Office"
3:00 PM - 3:05 PM Dave Silverman, Presentation of Scholarship Award Winner
3:05 PM - 3:45 PM Dr. Science
3:45 PM - 4:00 PM Break
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM Panel discussion: "Are We Better Off Since Murray v. Curlett?"
5:00 PM - 5:15 PM GAMOW video clip
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM Cocktail Hour in hotel bar
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM Life and Legacy Members Dinner
9:00 PM - 11:00 PM GAMOW video clip
Sunday, April 20, 2020
8:00 AM -9:00 AM Meeting of American Atheists Affiliated Groups
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Meeting of the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers
10:30 AM Board the bus to Navy Pier for Odyssey Cruise Line Brunch and Excursion
12:00 - 2:00 PM Odyssey Cruise of the Chicago waterfront, bus return to hotel


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