Sunday Mini-Convention Program

Washington Court Hotel, Capitol Hill
525 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001

A one-day hands-on conference to transform the inspiration of Reason Rally 2016 into action that you can take with you!

Our Emcee for the day will be George Hrab

Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer, composer, and heliocentrist George Hrab has written and produced six independent CDs and a concert DVD; published two books; recorded hundreds of episodes of an award-winning podcast; emceed countless science conferences; been a TEDx speaker; and has even performed for President Clinton. He’s traveled to four continents promoting critical thinking, science, and skepticism through story and song. George is considered one of the preeminent skeptic/science/atheist/geek-culture music icons currently living in his apartment.

Grand Ballroom

10:00 A.M. – 10:50 A.M. – Sunday Assembly  – “Live Better. Help often. Wonder more.”

Let’s kick things off with some fun!  Sunday Assembly is a secular celebration, the cutting edge of community for freethinkers. Their Allstars Band rocks the best party tunes, 100% woo-free songs, mixed in with poetry, laughter, and great talks.  The guest speaker, Dr. Sabrina Stierwalt, does fascinating work at ALMA, the most advanced telescope in the world.  An exciting TEDx speaker, she will talk about astronomy and wonder, and how being scientifically literate can help us all make better choices. Experience for yourself what an Assembly is all about, pique your curiosity, and start your Sunday energized and recharged.

11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M. – Celebrity Panel

We’re inviting the top talent from Saturday’s stage. Come see what Paul Provenza, Lawrence Krauss, Dave Rubin, Kelly Carlin, and John de Lancie have to say and ask them questions, too!

12:00 P.M. – 12:45 P.M. – Lunch

Pick up your boxed lunch and mingle with our exhibitors, speakers, and other conference attendees!

12:35 pm – 12:45 pm – Exodus: A Documentary about the African-Americans who are leaving God and the Church.  Come see the trailer!

12:45 P.M. – 1:15 P.M. – A conversation with Annabelle Gurwitch and Barbara Ehrenreich

All-Day Sessions

  • Foundation Beyond Belief Service Project Drop off a packaged food item or grocery store gift card, or help our volunteer team sort and pack collections for distribution to the DC soup kitchen. Details are at our Plan Your Day page.
  • Openly Secular Video Filming Are you Openly Secular? Do you want to tell the world? Share your story by filming a brief interview with our team.
  • Exhibitors & Vendors Stop by our Exhibitor Area to check out our sponsor orgs, pick up your Reason Rally memorabilia, and lots of other secular-focused vendors and organizations.

Breakout Sessions

Grand Ballroom

1:15 P.M. – 2:00 P.M. – Panel Discussion: Leaving Religion

Come join our panel featuring Julia Sweeney, Maryam Namazie, Mark White, Gayle Jordan, Linda LaScola, with moderator Sarah Haider.

2:00 P.M. – 2:15 P.M. – Break

2:15 P.M. – 3:00 P.M. – Panel Discussion: Legal Achievements & Opportunities

Join David Niose, Nick Little, Natacha Lam, Rebecca Markert, and moderator Rob Boston for this panel on what the movement has accomplished, legally speaking.

3:00 P.M. – 3:15 P.M. – Break

Natacha Lam

Natacha Lam is a Madison Fellow at Americans United for Separation of Church and State and assists in litigating church-state cases at trial and on appeal, and received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2014

David Niose

David Niose is the legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center, running the AHLC’s Massachusetts office and has a background that includes experience in law and mass communication.

Rob Boston

Rob Boston is the Director of Communications at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Rob, who has worked at Americans United since 1987, also serves as editor of AU’s Church & State magazine.

Nick Little

Nicholas Little holds a law degree from Vanderbilt University School of Law, a B.A. in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University, and an M.A. in Industrial Relations from the University of Warwick.

Rebecca Markert

Rebecca Markert is the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s first staff attorney and primarily works on Establishment Clause cases. She is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin, Dane County Bar Association, and is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western Districts of Wisconsin.

Springwood I

1:15 P.M. – 1:45 P.M. – Creating Change Through Humanism American Humanist Association Executive Director Roy Speckhardt will give a talk regarding his new book, Creating Change Through Humanism, recently published by the Humanist Press. Speckhardt will explore the modern state of humanism and how our forward-thinking outlook, with its emphasis on critical thinking and self-reflection, can be at the forefront of pressing social issues.

1:45 P.M. – 2:15 P.M. – Protect the First Amendment — It Protects You: Activism Workshop

How FFRF is fighting for you, with suggestions (not commandments) for individual state/church activism. Featuring FFRF Legal Eagles Sam Grover, Rebecca Markert & Andrew Seidel.

2:15 P.M. – 2:45 P.M. – Fighting God: Dave Silverman on the need for Firebrand Atheism

Silverman’s Fighting God Stares down the common assertion that  we as atheists are being “nice” when we acquiesce to religion’s demands for special privileges and respect by default.  Using quantitative data and undeniable logic, Silverman shows that firebrand-style activism is more effective, ethical, and humanistic than the so-called “Nice Guy” approach.  Coddling and protecting religion hurts us on a planetary level, and it is our responsibility as good people to take it down.

2:45 P.M. – 3:30 P.M. – Awards

Springwood II & III

1:15 P.M. – 1:45 P.M. Making a Secular Life of Joy and Meaning – 4 Values for Kids and Adults

Amanda K. Metskas presents evidence-based secular values of cultivating empathy, embracing challenge, engaging wonder, and questioning authority are the foundation of what we do at Camp Quest. You’ll be inspired to take these foundational values home and use them to energize your secular activism and your broader life, career, and community. (Psst…one great way to do that is to get involved with Camp Quest!)

1:45 P.M. – 2:15 P.M. Secular Values & New Humanism: the power of saying what you DO believe! 

“So you don’t believe in ANYTHING?!” Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a response ready to explain what you DO believe?  Patrick Horst, organizer of NaNoCon, will share useful experiences for articulating your own answers: How can you be a moral person without religion?  What values guide your decisions?  This is the next frontier for Humanism: Sharing what we DO believe. Join Patrick Horst on his search for a response led him through five years of research and reflection. 

2:15 P.M. – 2:45 P.M. And a Child Shall Lead Them

August E. Brunsman IV will speak about your connections to other people matter more to the success or failure of our movement than anything else. The most important thing we’ve learned via the Secular Student Alliance over the last 16 years has been the unimaginable importance of community. Our whole movement needs to build on its momentum by forming communities based on helping each other live the amazing and rational values that we all share.

2:45 P.M. – 3:15 P.M. Fighting Back with Reason 

Young Skeptics is a critical thinking and evidence-based learning program for elementary school children, designed as an alternative to evangelical Christian programs infiltrating our public schools. Kevin Davis, the Executive Director of Young Skeptics will discuss the purpose behind its creation and provide an update on the program’s success and current national expansion.


1:15 P.M. – 1:45 P.M. – Teaching Evolution While Avoiding the Pitchforks: A Primer on Why Evolution is True and How to Keep the Science In and the Religion Out

Speaker Bertha Vazquez, director of the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science.

1:45 P.M. – 2:15 P.M. – Humanism and Social Justice: Examining Humanist Perspectives on Race, Gender, and Class

Humanism is a robust philosophy and a comprehensive worldview that combines the flexibility of ethics based on human experience with a strong commitment to the rigors of critical thinking and the liberty of free inquiry. But there is tension within organized humanism when it comes to how humanists think about gender, class, and other social forces. Organizer Debbie Goddard will explore how these disagreements may arise from core differences in our conception of humanism itself, then offer a few recommendations that can help us build a stronger humanist movement together. Debbie Goddard is the Center for Inquiry’s Vice President for Outreach, director of African Americans for Humanism, and lead coordinator for CFI’s Women in Secularism 4 conference. Ron Lindsay, president of CFI, will provide introductory remarks.

2:15 P.M. – 2:45 P.M. – Humanist Celebrants: Filling a Need

Secular ceremonies–like weddings, memorials, baby namings, and other celebrations–are having profound effects on the lives of humanists and their families. Come hear stories of how, through ceremonies, a deeper appreciation of humanism has developed among both humanists and non-humanists alike. And learn how you can benefit from, and participate in, this growing expression of our secular values. Humanist Celebrants Fred Edwords and Ryan Matthew Jean will share their experiences and Rachael Berman will reveal ways you can become a celebrant yourself.

2:45 P.M. – 3:15 P.M. – Lessons from A Better Life 

Author Chris Johnson will moderate a panel of people featured in his book A Better Life. The panel will include Julia Sweeney, Dan Barker, Anne Laurie Gaylor, Margaret Downey, Cara Santa Maria, and Lawrence Krauss.

Madison I & II

1:15 P.M – 2:45 P.M. – From the Ride of the Four Horsemen to the Rise of the Fifth Estate

Join hosts Paul Sheehan & Rob Penczak for a lively discussion on how to seize the opportunities provided by the ever-shifting dynamics in media. Learn to leverage podcasts, YouTube videos, or blogs as unique and accessible forms of activism. Learn about atheist public access television, its history and current value in the cross over world of the internet. Learn how to start your own show and how to find out what the legal requirements are for stations to air your content.  We’ll cover some tricky areas as well, such as how to make sure content you produce for the station is eligible for posting in other markets and on the internet so you can reach the broadest possible audience. Rob and Paul will be joined by several guests speakers and show hosts who will share their thoughts on how platforms like Road to Reason and SavedByScience can and do help give the secular, skeptical, atheist, Humanist, and scientific communities a much needed voice.

2:45 P.M – 3:15 P.M. –Atheist Alliance of America Presents the 2016 Richard Dawkins Award

The Atheist Alliance of America will be giving out the 2016 Richard Dawkins Award to Dr. Lawrence Krauss for his stunning work in theoretical physics and his atheist activism throughout the years. President Melissa Pugh and Vice President Mark Gura will be presenting the award. Come see this historic event as Dr. Krauss follows in the footsteps of Eugine Scott, Bill Maher and Christopher Hitchens. Free event for all.

Grand Ballroom

3:15 P.M. – 3:45 P.M. – Keynote Address by Bonya Ahmed

Bonya Ahmed is a humanist activist, author, and moderator at the award-winning Bengali blog Muktomona. She works as a Senior Director in the Finance industry in the USA. She is the widow of Dr. Avijit Roy, a well known writer, blogger, and activist who founded Muktomona as the first online platform for Bengali speaking freethinkers.

Roy and Ahmed were brutally attacked in the middle of the street by Islamic militants during a book signing trip to Dhaka, Bangladesh on February 26, 2015. Dr. Roy died and Ms. Ahmed was gravely injured. The systematic pattern of assassination has extended to religious minorities, homosexuals, activists, writers and progressive academics and intellectuals. Ms. Ahmed has been working with the international and local communities to help Bengali bloggers, intellectuals and activists. She is dedicated to drawing attention to the growing culture of impunity in Bangladesh.

3:45 P.M. – 4:00 P.M. – Closing Remarks