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California Freethought Day

Sunday, October 13, 2019

California State Capitol Building


The following details are still being updated from our prior year and may be changed.

Dr. Eugenie Scott

Eugenie ScottEugenie is the former Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, Inc., a not for profit membership organization of scientists, teachers, and others that works to improve the teaching of science as a way of knowing, the teaching of evolution, and the teaching of climate change. A former college professor, Dr. Scott is an internationally-known expert on the creationism and evolution controversy and science denials, and is called upon by the press and other media to explain science to the general public.

The author of Evolution vs Creationism: An Introduction and co-editor with Glenn Branch of Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for our Schools, she is the recipient of numerous awards from scientists and educators, and has been awarded ten honorary degrees. Asteroid 249540 Eugeniescott was named for her in 2014.

Eugenie will be speaking in the first hour of our event.

Kavin Senapathy

Kavin SenapathyKavin is a writer covering science, health, medicine, parenting, and the intersection of these topics. A regular contributor to Forbes, her work also appears in Slate, SELF Magazine, and more.

Kavin is the co-author of The Fear Babe:  Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House, a book discussing popular food misconceptions and why they proliferate. Her chapter in the recent MIT Press book Pseudoscience is entitled “Swaying Pseudoscience - The Inoculation Effect.”

When she’s not writing, tweeting, or working, she’s busy being a “Science Mom”—also the name of a recent documentary film in which she’s featured—to a 7-year old and 5-year old.

Follow her on Twitter @ksenapathy and on her page on Facebook.

Kavin will be our final speaker.

Seráh Blain and Evan Clark

Seráh BlainSeráh is a mom, an activist, and a Humanist lobbyist. With more than 20 years of political and nonprofit advocacy experience, Seráh has dedicated her career to advancing Humanist values through public policy and grassroots community organizing.

She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Secular Coalition for Arizona, the Prescott Pride Center, and the Arizona Interfaith Movement. Seráh was the recipient of Foundation Beyond Belief’s Humanist Innovator of the Year Award in 2014.

Follow her on Twitter @SerahBlain.

Evan ClarkEvan is a Humanist activist, facilitator, and entrepreneur. He has over 10 years of experience leading and consulting values-driven nonprofits, companies, and campaigns and has spoken nationally about Humanism and innovation. He also is the Founder and Creative Director at Spectrum Experience LLC, Chair of the Secular Student Alliance, and co-host for the Humanist Experience podcast.

Follow him on Twitter @EvanSaysBlah.

Visit their website at

Seráh and Evan will be speaking together in the middle of the afternoon.

Dr. Abby Hafer

Abby HaferAbby is an author, scientist, educator and public speaker.  Her book debunking Intelligent Design, The Not-So-Intelligent Designer—Why Evolution Explains the Human Body and Intelligent Design Does Not became a #1 bestseller on Amazon in the category of Theism.  (Abby Hafer is not averse to irony.)  Her public speaking has taken her all over the United States and she has given many radio interviews, including appearing on NPR and WBAI.  

Her scientific career includes a doctorate in zoology from Oxford University, many research projects in physiology, and a stint monitoring fish populations on the Bering Sea. Her new book, Darwin's Apostles,  will be available in 2019. This book was co-authored with David Orenstein. In Summer 2018,  she published a chapter in the book Women v. Religion: The Case Against Faith. She has also published “No Data Required: Why Intelligent Design Is Not Science” in The American Biology Teacher, and a chapter titled “Intelligent Design Isn’t Science and It Doesn’t Even Try to Be Science” in John Loftus’s 2016 book Christianity in the Light of Science.  She has also contributed articles to The Humanist and The American Rationalist.

She teaches human anatomy and physiology at Curry College and lives in Massachusetts with her husband, the astronomy writer Alan MacRobert.

Abby will be speaking in the middle of the afternoon.

Special Guests

Steve Hill, Emcee

Steve HillBorn in poverty on St. Louis' north side, Steve has acquired a lifetime of experience in what it's like to grow up in America as an African American male.

Steve followed his father's and brothers' footsteps and joined the US Marine Corps where he served for five years, becoming a Sergeant, and moved to Los Angeles to work in the aerospace industry for seven years and the California Department of Corrections for ten years.

The mortgage meltdown cemented his decision to speak for those in the middle class with no voice, lobbyist, or advocacy group. And with an extremely keen sense of humor, he hits the stage with a stand-up performance that enables people to see relevant issues from a very funny, but drastically different, perspective.

Steve will be our emcee throughout the main event.

Award Winners

Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-09)

Jerry McNerneyJerry has represented California's ninth district (primarily San Joaquin County) since 2007, and has been a proponent of renewable energy, providing improved care to our veterans, and for the use of medical marijuana in California without prosecution.

Earlier this year, Jerry and others in Congress launched the Congressional Freethought Caucus with goals including "pushing public policy formed on the basis of reason, science, and moral values" while promoting the "separation of church and state" and opposing discrimination against "nonreligious persons" among others.

Jerry has a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of New Mexico and served as an energy consultant for a number of utilities before launching his own business manufacturing wind turbines.

Jerry will receive an award at the start of our event.

Judy Saint

Judy SaintJudy is the founder and president of the Sacramento chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation that has successfully intervened in the cities of Loomis, Roseville, Chico, Rancho Cordova, and Folsom in recent years. She was also pivotal in organizing fifty-five "I'm an Atheist" billboards throughout the Sacramento region that made local and national news.

Working with a local Juvenile Hall, Judy started "Freethought Class" and frequently organizes "Ask an Atheist" days at local venues including Arden Fair Mall and the Crocker Art Museum. She was the National Visibility Coordinator for the 2013 National Day of Reason, and has served on a number of secular boards.

It is for these reasons and many others that California Freethought Day is awarding Judy with our first "Community Service" award.

Judy will be receiving the award in the mid-afternoon.

Essay Winners

Sarah Hagy

Sarah HagySarah is a recent graduate of Winters High School, now enrolled at Solano Community College with plans to major in sociology. Sarah enjoys writing as an outlet to express her thoughts and reach out to those around her to let her voice be heard.

Responding to a scholarship essay prompt, Sarah wrote:

"The day I told my father I didn’t want to go to church anymore, I may as well have turned into Satan himself."

Sarah won that scholarship and the $4,000 cash prize that accompanied it, offered by Robert Nickelson. The contest was mentioned on the Friendly Atheist blog.

Sarah will be reading her winning essay in the mid-afternoon.