Freethinkers Congregating in Little Rock
For Immediate Release
(Little Rock, Arkansas: October 22, 2013) Atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other secular people from all over Arkansas are traveling to Little Rock for the second annual Reason in the Rock conference. The two-day event will be held beginning at 9:00 a.m., Saturday, October 26 and Sunday, October 27, 2013, at the Riverfront Wyndham Hotel at #2 Riverfront Drive, in downtown North Little Rock, Arkansas.
The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers is hosting the conference. Local and nationally-known speakers will represent varied aspects of the secular movement, and will address matters of personal liberty, public policy, and science education. Chris Borecky, President of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers, said, “Reason in the Rock will promote a healthy dose of skepticism, secularism, and of course, the separation of church and state.”
In 2012, Reason in the Rock was a one-day event, featuring nine respected and well-known leaders in the freethought and skeptic community. Reason in the Rock is the only conference of its kind in Little Rock, and it attracted people from all over Arkansas and from surrounding states.
“This year, Reason in the Rock will be a two-day event with twice as many respected speakers, more diverse topics, and more for the audience,” said Anne Orsi, the event’s lead organizer with the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers. “We want to reach out to Arkansans who value a secular government, humanist action, and good science education. The secularist voice is not as loud here as it is elsewhere. We want freethinkers in Arkansas to know they aren’t alone.”
The conference opens Saturday morning with the often-controversial president of American Atheists, David Silverman. Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Experience television broadcast from Austin, Texas, will speak Saturday afternoon. Saturday evening, the documentary “No Dinosaurs in Heaven” will be followed by a discussion with film maker and science education advocate Greta Schiller. Dan Barker, President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, will open Sunday’s programming, which closes Sunday with a presentation by author and former Pentecostal pastor Jerry DeWitt.
Among other notable speakers will be Zack Kopplin, a student activist known nationally for garnering the support of over 70 Nobel laureates to combat Louisiana’s law permitting the teaching of creationism in public school science classes. Dr. Jason Wiles of Syracuse University and Dr. Johnny Stine of North Coast Biologics in Seattle, WA, two biologists with Arkansas roots, will talk about their own experiences with science education in Arkansas. Phil Ferguson, a member of the national board of directors of the Secular Student Alliance will be discussing how young people explore and abandon religion. William A. Cash, Jr., the director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office in Little Rock, will address the intersection of religion and the workplace.
Rachel Johnson is one of two speakers addressing sexuality. The other is Dr. Darrel Ray, author of the bestselling book The God Virus, will discuss elements of his 2012 study and book Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality in his presentation when he asks, “Did Jesus Masturbate?” as he explores the sexual mythology of religious culture.
Programming includes a segment of the popular “Skeptics in the Pub” by Little Rock skeptics Kyle Sanders and Ben Bell. Sam Kooistra of the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and former Rep. Dan Greenberg, president of the Advance Arkansas Institute, will participate in a moderated discussion about the death penalty. Lecia Brooks, Outreach Coordinator for the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, will speak on “The State of Hate and Intolerance in America.”
This year, the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers will again present the Randall “Doc” Fleck Common Sense Plus Award to recognize an individual who has contributed significantly to secularism. Dr. Fleck was one of the primary activists in the Arkansas secular movement and was instrumental in organizing a number of the secular movement’s groups around the state. He died in 2012 after a lengthy illness.
The conference is free and open to the public but there is limited seating. All interested in attending should register on the conference’s website at www.reasonintherock.org where they will find links to nearby lodging and opportunities to donate.
The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers is a non-profit corporation belonging to a group of secular organizations within the Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason. The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers promotes the secular, non-theistic, humanist viewpoint as a valid contribution to public discourse. It advocates the strict separation of church and state, and hosts weekly events geared to encourage and facilitate dialogue in matters of science, reason, critical thinking, and tolerance.
More information about the organization is available on its website at www.arfreethinkers.org.
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