2015 Speakers

Featuring “An Evening with John Davidson”, Chairman of the Honorary Board, Openly Secular

John Davidson
John Davidson

John Davidson is well known for hosting That’s Incredible, The New Hollywood Squares, One Hundred Thousand Dollar Pyramid, and The Tonight Show. He has appeared in performances off and on Broadway and is currently appearing in Wicked as The Wizard. He has appeared in the feature films The Happiest Millionaire, The One And Only Genuine Original Family Band. Airport 80, Edward Scissorhands, and The Squeeze.  John is the author of the educational book, The Art Of The Singing Entertainer, and his autobiographical play, The Boy Who Loved His Father. His appearance will be a mix of songs, comedy and his personal journey from preacher’s son to Openly Secular.

Margaret Downey, Freethought Society, Event MC

Margaret Downey
Margaret Downey

Margaret Downey founded the Freethought Society (FS) and the Anti-Discrimination Support Network (ADSN) in 1993. In 1994 Margaret founded the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee. She has been published in three books, Parenting Beyond Belief, A Better Life and Voices of Disbelief. Margaret has represented the interest of the nontheist community (since 1995) at several United Nations conferences. She is a past board member of the American Humanist Association, The Humanist Institute and the Thomas Paine National Historical Association. She is a current board member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Scouting For All and is a member of the Advisory Board Member of the Robert Green Ingersoll Museum. In the year 2002, Margaret became the first “Secular Humanist Celebrant” in Pennsylvania. Margaret created the Richard Dawkins Award in 2003. Margaret served as president of the Atheist Alliance International for two years. In 2007, Margaret designed the Tree of Knowledge. Media Training Worldwide has endorsed Margaret to conduct media training for the nontheist community. Margaret is a Thomas Paine expert and has conducted large school assemblies for children around the nation. She conducts Thomas Paine themed events and is the author of many Thomas Paine Day City Proclamations. Margaret has been a guest on National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation and Radio Times. Television appearances include features on local news stations as well as ABC’s Nightline, PBS and Fox News. She is famous for her one-of-a-kind character The Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Nurse and has hosted a unique Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Center/Party on Friday the 13th in many cities since 1996.

Linda LaScola, Author and Co-Founder of The Clergy Project, Presenting “Caught in the Pulpit: How Non-Believing Clergy Redeem Us All” a Conversation with Andy Thomson

Linda LaScola
Linda LaScola

Linda LaScola is co-author, with Daniel C. Dennett, of Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind  and  the article “Preachers who are not Believers”. She is an independent qualitative research consultant who works out of Washington, D.C. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Catholic University of America and is a co-founder of The Clergy Project.  She blogs on the Patheos Atheist channel at Rational Doubt.

Dr. Andy Thomson, Psychiatrist and Author, Presenting “Remembering Sweetness: Happiness and Well Being in a Secular World.”

Dr. Andy Thomson
Dr. Andy Thomson

Dr. Andy Thomson is a psychiatrist in Charlottesville, Virginia. He received his B.A. from Duke University (1970), his M.D. from the University of Virginia (1974) and did his adult psychiatry training at U.Va. (1974-77). His private practice is oriented toward individual psychoanalytic psychotherapy, forensic psychiatry, and medication consultation. He was the Assistant Director of the Center for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction at U.Va., which involved interdisciplinary intervention and research in large group ethnic and political conflict, primarily in the former Soviet Union. He is a staff psychiatrist at Counseling and Psychological Services at the U.Va Student Health Services. He serves on the clinical faculty at The Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy at U.Va. He has publications on narcissistic personality disorder, evolutionary theories of depression, antidepressants, criminal behavior, the function of serotonin, post-traumatic stress disorder, religion, suicide terrorism, and the psychology of racism. In 2010 his work with Paul Andrews on an evolutionary theory of depression was featured in Scientific American Mind and in the New York Times Magazine, “Depression’s Upside.” With Russ Federman he co-authored Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult’s Guide to Dealing with Bipolar Disorder (2010). He authored with Clare Aukofer Why We Believe In God(s): A Concise Introduction to the Science of Faith (2011), which has been translated into Spanish, German, Polish, and Urdu. His current research interest is evolutionary psychology and its application to religious belief, well-being, resilience, suicide, the insanity defense, and psychiatric illnesses. Since 2006 he has had the privilege of serving as a trustee of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

Dr. Ron Lindsay, President and CEO, Center for Inquiry, Presenting “The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What To Do

Ron Lindsay

Dr. Ron Lindsay is president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Georgetown University and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.  The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What To Do is his second book. His first book, Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmas, was published by Prometheus Books in June 2008. He is also the author of the entry on “Euthanasia” for the prestigious International Encyclopedia of Ethics (Wiley Blackwell 2013).

Dr. Julien Musolino, Author and Scholar, Rutgers University, Presenting “The Soul Fallacy: What Science Shows We Gain From Letting Go of Our Soul Beliefs

Julien Musolina

Dr. Julien Musolino is a Franco-American cognitive scientist, public speaker, author, and associate professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, where he holds a dual appointment in the Psychology Department and the Center for Cognitive Science. Born and raised in France, Julien studied at the University of Geneva, in neighboring Switzerland, the University of North Wales, Bangor, in the United Kingdom, the University of Maryland, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Soul Fallacy: What Science Shows We Gain From Letting Go of Our Soul Beliefs as well as numerous scientific articles, and is regularly invited to give lectures in the United States and around the world. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Julien has appeared on national television, his work has been discussed in popular magazines, and he has been a guest on radio and podcast programs in the United States and abroad.

Tom Flynn, Executive Director, Council for Secular Humanism, Presenting  “Who Are Those Doubters? The Demography on Unbelief.”

Tom Flynn
Tom Flynn

Tom Flynn is executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism and editor of its magazine, Free Inquiry, the nation’s largest-circulation secular humanist journal. He is an outspoken secular humanist activist. He cofounded the newsletter Secular Humanist Bulletin and designed the museum at the birthplace of 19th century agnostic orator Robert Green Ingersoll in Dresden, New York. He is co-founder of the Freethought Trail. He has written or edited four published books: a 1993 polemic, The Trouble With Christmas, two irreverent science fiction novels, and (as editor) The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. Most recently, he is executive producer of the Council for Secular Humanism’s new four-part video miniseries, American Freethought.

Dr. Jason Heap, Executive Director, United Coalition of Reason, Presenting “Sunshine to the Roots of American Religious Liberty”

Dr. Jason Heap
Dr. Jason Heap

Dr. Jason Heap is the current applicant to become the first Humanist Chaplain in the history of the United States armed forces, having filed a federal lawsuit last November against the United States Department of Defense. After being away from America for nearly 15 years, he has recently returned to serve as the Executive Director for the United Coalition of Reason, based in Washington, DC. Through his work with UnitedCoR, Jase nurtures 85 local Coalitions of Reason, in addition to supporting over 700 cooperating and affiliated groups within these local coalitions. Jase took double majors in philosophy and practical theology at Howard Payne University before attending Brite Divinity School (Texas Christian University) for an MDiv. He then studied for an additional Master’s in history and religion at The University of Oxford before completing further post-graduate certification from Sheffield Hallam University that allowed him to teach in the UK’s state-maintained schools. Among the 9 subjects that Jase teaches, philosophy, psychology, religious studies, and personal/social/health education have been his favorites. After working in the UK schools for 5 years, Jase went on to give 6 years of experience as the Headteacher (the UK equivalent of a “Teaching Co-Principal” in the US) of UK-curriculum “international” schools, and throughout his work, he has lived in and visited nearly 40 countries. He has recently completed a Doctor of Education in administrator leadership and his dissertation focused on empowering non-Western grassroots schools and teachers. Jase is a Humanist celebrant, a regular contributor to TheHumanist.Com, and gives regular volunteer time to chaplaincy work with student organizations at major American and British universities

Justus Cade, Liberty University Graduate, WASH Member, Presenting “Atheists Gone Wild: Are Atheists Hurting Humanism?”

Justus Cade
Justus Cade

Justus Cade was born and raised by devout, fundamentalist, evangelical, young-earth-creationist Christians. He was homeschooled K – 12, along with his six siblings. He grew up in church, literally, as his family was part of a house-church movement that met in his home at least twice a week. He attended and completed AWANA (similar to Boy Scouts, except that badges are awarded for Biblical knowledge and memorization). Justus attended Liberty University and graduated in 2008. Up until this point he had been a devout Christian, even working as Spiritual Life Director while at Liberty. His study of the Bible and church history led him to begin doubting and to eventually reject Christianity, a process that took about 2-3 years. He’s considered himself an atheist since 2010, and been involved with the secular community since 2011. Justus is an active member the Lynchburg Area Secular Humanists, a local chapter of WASH, and participates in various outings and volunteer work with them, such as Adopt-A-Street. He also volunteers with other secular organizations, such as the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason and We Are Atheism. Now a secular humanist, Justus enjoys sharing experiences and insights from his fundamentalist background with the hope of clearing up many misconceptions and misunderstandings between these two very different groups.

Austin Cooper, Director of Operations and Finance, Secular Coalition of America, Presenting “Flexing Your Political Muscles in Maryland and Virginia” 

Austin Cooper
Austin Cooper

Austin Cooper received her Bachelor’s in Communication Studies from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Go Hokies!) Her areas of study include journalism, international economics, accounting, and political science. Austin has 12 years of professional experience in accounting, human resources and operations management. She has been with the Secular Coalition since January 2014.

Austin is a supporting member of Break the Cycle, the Smithsonian, National Aquarium, National Park Service at Gettysburg, Secular Student Alliance, Secular Coalition, and the Greater Reston Art Center. She also supports and volunteers for the Wangari Gardens and Camp Quest.

URTH, Musical Entertainment

URTH
URTH

Dynamic funk/rock/jazz fusion trio URTH delivers a powerful blend of music that blurs genres and infuses crowds with high-energy grooves. Their unique, innovative sound and exploratory improvisation engage audiences and inspire new fans.

Frontman (and WASH Member) Brach Rauchle’s multitasking instrumental approach involves playing multiple instruments simultaneously to create a unique, multifaceted sonic & improvisatory experience as he moves between modified 7-string guitar, saxophone, vocals, electronic wind instrument & keyboard along with customized “foot keyboards” and finger triggers. rock-solid rhythm section of drummer Brett Reynolds and bassist Nick Kalen cement the foundation of the band with their dance-inducing grooves.

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