“They Are Mighty” – Debbie Goddard on the Impact of Women in Secularism

Photo by Josiah Mannion

CFI’s VP of Outreach, Debbie Goddard, made an excellent point in her opening remarks for Women in Secularism 4, that even though these conference have not been enormous events packed with thousands of attendees, their reverberations are always felt well beyond the events themselves.

These conferences, says Debbie, “have been mighty,” adding, “They have been some of the most challenging, exciting, and impactful conferences that the freethought movement has seen in many years.”

The reason for this is the conversations that these conferences spark, conversations that happen both on stage and off, and that don’t happen anywhere else. She cited examples of some of the movement’s larger debates and discussions, and even changes in organizations’ policies, all as a result of the exchange of ideas that happen at Women in Secularism.

We’re pretty confident that this one will be no different.

Putting it Together, Bit by Bit

The conference is about to get started, and the great Melanie Brewster is up first. Before the formal beginnings of any event like this, however, there is of course a great deal of setup.

Here, the tireless Stef McGraw makes sure everything’s in place for the podium and dais.


Cody Hashman assures us that all these wires are for a purpose, and we of course believe him.


In the lobby, Suzi Hansen of CFI Canada is ready to answer your questions about her group’s work in the mystical and exotic foreign land to the north.


At the main registration table, Nick Little, our legal director, may or may not be helping. We’re never sure.


And of course, at the empty podium, the eyes. Always watching, those eyes.


More (actual conference stuff) to come!

May the 4th Be With You


It’s a beautiful day in Arlington’s Crystal City, where enormous structures of glass send every glimmer of sunlight bouncing here and there. And it’s almost time to get started with Women in Secularism 4.

We always knew that when we held the first Women in Secularism conference back in 2012 that it would be something deeply meaningful for the freethought community, confronting issues and addressing concerns that simply weren’t getting the air time they needed in other venues. What we couldn’t know (not being fortune-telling psychics) is just how meaningful they would be, creating a demand for additional conferences.

It’s 2016 and we’re holding the fourth in the series, after taking one year off in 2015. It’s no small thing to be holding an event like this now. There’s so much going on this year for “skepto-humanists,” with the second Reason Rally, CSICon Las Vegas coming next month, and of course, all the hubbub and hullabaloo over the presidential election.

And that’s why there’s no better time than now for the fourth Women in Secularism conference. In the midst of major rallying events for nonbelievers and skeptics, and as the first woman nominee of a major political party faces off against a man who is, well, let’s just say not entirely friendly when it comes to women’s concerns, the voices of the women of secularism could not be more crucial. And since the conference series took a year last year off, there’s a palpable eagerness for an occasion like this.

It’s going to be a great event. Check back here regularly for updates and personal thoughts about what transpires, and we’ll also try to bring you a flavor of what’s going on in between the main talks and discussions.