Kentucky Freethought Convention Wrapup

After long months of planning and preparation, the day finally arrived. Yesterday, Saturday October 6th was the first ever Kentucky Freethought Convention. And what a success it was! While targeted primarily to freethinking Kentuckians, it was about the same size in attendance as the first national American Atheist convention that I attended three years ago. We even had a few attendees who drove all the way from West Virginia and Tennessee. The final attendance is estimated to be over 250.

Panoramic view of the stage and attendees of the Kentucky Freethought Convention on October 6, 2012.

There was a great mix of topics by a variety of speakers both local to Kentucky and nationally known.

Dr. James Krupa, Professor of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kentucky, spoke on the importance of quality education in evolution and science for students who are not majoring in science.

Edwin Kagin spoke about the origins and history of Camp Quest, a summer camp for the children of secular parents which focuses on the importance of science and critical thinking (along with other fun summer camp activities). Camp Quest was started in Kentucky and in the past 10 years has spread all over the United States and to Europe.

Seth Andrews, of the Thinking Atheist podcast and former Christian radio broadcaster, told of his experience of coming out as an atheist and of handling the conflict with family that this can sometimes cause. He also had a bit of fun poking fun at some of the most ridiculous expressions of religion in modern America.

Dr. Gretchen Mann, Chef Medical Officer at the Louisville Military Entrance Processing Station, discussed how she, along with the Military Religious Freedom Association and Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers put a stop to the active proselytizing by the Gideons of military recruits at the MEPS centers all over the country.

Annalise Fonza, former United Methodist clergywoman and current member of Black Nonbelievers of Atlanta, spoke about her past as a member of the clergy, the issues faced by nonbelievers in African American communities, and the importance of diversity in race, gender, and sexual orientation in the atheist movement.

Former Minister’s Panel.

As the last speaker for the day, Will Gervais,  Associate Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Kentucky. spoke about the recent psychological studies on societal perceptions of atheists, and the connection between analytical thinking and non-religious thought. I don’t have a picture for Dr. Gervais, but when I have one I will post it.

We all had a great time and made great connections with one another. I am looking forward to next year’s convention!

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2 thoughts on “Kentucky Freethought Convention Wrapup

  1. I just wanted to thank you and all who were involved with putting together this convention. I had no idea what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well organized and professional the convention was. I thought the ballroom was just the right size, the lectures were a nice length, parking was easy, and I liked having so many lunch choices so close. I think the table seating arrangement vs. traditional row seating made getting to know those around me much easier. I was also impressed by the quality of the speakers. All were interesting and with a nice variety of topics. I found the lectures by James Krupa and Will Gervais to be particularly informative and well presented. If I had any complaint it would be that there could have been fewer speakers (maybe three in the morning and three in the afternoon), which would have made for a shorter day. I know one speaker was not able to be there and I’m not sure I could have made it if she had. I know I could come and go as needed, but I also didn’t want to miss any lectures.
    Mostly, I was just thrilled to find out about this convention and to find this, until now unknown, local group of people who think like I do. Thanks to the billboard and the Humanist Forum for making that happen. Growing up, I remember asking my mom why we had to go to church, and she often mentioned the importance of community. Being a non-believer, I’ve never felt like I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of a community of like-minded people. Now I do. Thanks for that.
    I look forward to next year.

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