(Washington, D.C., May 21, 2009) The godless are gathering for the 68th Annual Conference of the American Humanist Association in Tempe, Arizona, to honor such trailblazers as PZ Myers, Barbara Forrest, the Reverend Barry Lynn, Norma Ramos and Neil deGrasse Tyson. A special press conference at 9:00 AM, Friday, June 5, at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel (the annual conference’s main venue) will launch the event with the unveiling of a nontheistic billboard going up along a nearby, well-traveled Arizona highway.
Paul “PZ” Myers will be named the 2009 Humanist of the Year at a 7:00 PM ceremony on Saturday, June 6, at the same hotel. Myers, an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris, maintains the popular “Pharyngula” blog that highlights “evolution, development and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal.” The site has garnered multiple awards, including the 2005 Koufax Award for Best Expert Blog and the 2006 Weblog Award for Best Science Blog. For his work, “Nature” magazine named Myers the world’s top science blogger and David Healy named an asteroid in his honor.
“We’re honored to present PZ with our Humanist of the Year Award,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “He’s made great contributions to the scientific and humanist communities, and ‘Pharyngula’ has played a crucial role in challenging ‘intelligent design’ and creationism in the media and blogosphere. Dr. Myers serves as a voice for rational people everywhere.”
At 4:30 PM, Friday, June 5, Neil deGrasse Tyson will receive the Isaac Asimov Science Award, named for the late president of the American Humanist Association. Tyson is the Frederick P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He has been appointed to a commission to study the future of the US Aerospace Industry and a commission on the implementation of US Space Exploration Policy, as well as appointed to the prestigious Advisory Council of NASA. His latest book, “Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries,” was a “New York Times” bestseller.
Later that evening, Barbara Forrest will receive the Humanist Pioneer Award. She is professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University and co-author of “Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design,” which details the political and religious aims of the intelligent design creationist movement. She also served as an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the first legal case involving intelligent design: Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District.
At the Saturday noon banquet, the Reverend Barry Lynn, director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington, D.C.-based organization dedicated to the preservation of religious liberty, will receive the Religious Liberty Award. At the same banquet, Norma Ramos will receive the Humanist Heroine Award. She is a co-founder and current co-executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW), the first U.S.-based abolitionist organization to work internationally to fight against human trafficking.
All awardees will give major acceptance speeches and there will be question and answer periods following some.
The annual American Humanist Association conference is the largest gathering of humanists and freethinkers in the country. This year’s program will feature plenary sessions on such topics as human rights, bioethical issues, religious reform and humanist approaches to social problems. It also offers entertainment from Arizona Republic cartoonist Steve Benson, atheist leader and pianist Dan Barker, and satirical songwriter Roy Zimmerman. Paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson will give the Sunday morning keynote address.
All events will be held at the Tempe Missions Palms Hotel at 60 East Fifth Street in Tempe, Arizona 85281. The Friday morning press conference takes place in the Cavetto Room. For more details on the conference schedule, speakers, and entertainers, go online to the American Humanist Association website at http://www.americanhumanist.org/What_We_Do/Annual_Conference. To secure press credentials or arrange interviews, contact Karen Frantz at 202-238-9088 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The American Humanist Association ( www.americanhumanist.org ) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through over 100 local chapters and affiliates across the United States.
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.