Meet the Speakers for NaNoCon 2023:
Seth Andrews - Keynote Speaker
The Thinking Atheist podcast, author
Seth is a video producer and former Christian broadcaster, now an atheist activist, author, and speaker. He is the creator and host of The Thinking Atheist online community, podcast, and YouTube channel. He has written 5 books, including Confessions of a Former Fox News Christian.
“Blood Cult: The Weird, Wild World of Christian Rituals”
Take an entertaining, funny, and often alarming journey through many of Christianity’s most popular traditions, as Seth Andrews frames these “normal” practices in an entirely new light.
Actor, author, founder of @DaretoDoubt
Alice has been a Hollywood actress since 2004. She is a speaker and founder of Daretodoubt.org, a resource hub for people to detach from belief systems they come to find harmful. She is the author of the book Wayward: A Memoir of Spiritual Warfare and Sexual Purity. https://tell.ie/Alice/oQ6KAIuGYOBu
"Drunk, High, and Hypnotized: The Neurotheology of Mystical Experiences"
If it wasn’t God, what was it? As skeptics, it can be hard to make sense of the phenomena we witnessed as believers. From faith healings to speaking in tongues to being slain by the Spirit, we can feel haunted by memories of the so-called supernatural. Alice Greczyn knows this firsthand. It wasn’t until she delved into the neuroscience of spirituality that she was finally able to heal the lingering fears of her religious trauma. If you’ve struggled to reconcile the more mystical aspects of your former faith, this talk is for you. Learn what really goes on during the soberly-induced trance states of spiritual belief.
The Atheist Experience host, debater
Matt is an atheist activist, skeptic, magician, lecturer, debater, anti-religionist, and more... Since 2005 he has been host of the televised webcast The Atheist Experience, is a former President of the Atheist Community of Austin, and is a Board member with American Atheists.
"Where's God? The Hiddenness problem... (and why Christians don't want to talk about it)"
It's an obvious question, it should be an obvious answer... Let's talk about the problem of Divine Hiddenness, and why, when it comes to debating the topic, Christianity's defenders are nowhere to be found... like their god.
Black Nonbelievers president, speaker
Mandisa is the founder and current president of Black Nonbelievers. She is a speaker, activist, and Humanist Celebrant. In 2020 she received the Harvard Humanist of the Year award (with Sikivu Hutchinson and Ijeoma Oluo.) Mandisa has many media appearances to her credit, including CBS Sunday Morning, CNN.com, Playboy, The Humanist, and JET magazines. She has been featured in the documentaries Contradiction and My Week in Atheism. https://linktr.ee/Mandy0904%E2%80%8B
"Taking Better Care Of Each Other as a Community"
The past few years have been a tremendous challenge. And as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, and fight against the tide of White supremacy and Christian Nationalism, Mandisa will discuss ways that we can support each other as a community.
"Dying Out Loud" tour, former pastor
Dave is a former evangelical pastor who is now atheist. In 2019 he was diagnosed with ALS, a terminal illness. He is spending the time he has left traveling and speaking about living fully and approaching death as an atheist. He co-hosts a weekly Youtube call-in show and recently published the book Childish Things: A Memoir. Carpe The F*ckin' Diem! https://linktr.ee/DyingOutLoud%E2%80%8B
“Stand Up and Speak Up”
If we care about our country and basic human rights, we must do everything we can to stand up, speak up, snd make our presence known. We no longer have the luxury of hiding in the closets. Dave will encourage us to raise our voice, and give us practical tips on how best to do that with minimal residual damage to family and friends.
Dr James Frey Croft
Leader, Ethical Society of St. Louis; Radical Queer Atheologian
Dr James Croft is leader of the Ethical Society of St Louis, one of the largest Humanist congregations in the world. He is currently co-authoring the book "Lifefulness" with Sanderson Jones, the co-founder of Sunday Assembly. A graduate of Harvard and Cambridge Universities, Dr Croft is a proud gay Humanist who speaks passionately on secular spirituality, human rights, and offers training drawing from his many years of experience. He is a humanist celebrant, and a writer for the OnlySky network and many other publications. A native of London, England, James lives in St. Louis with his husband Kolten and their darling chihuahua Ella.
"Belonging, Becoming, Beyond: Spiritual Community Beyond Religion"
How do you find spiritual community if you are not religious? A place where you feel like you belong; a place which encourages you to become your best self; a place where you can connect with something beyond yourself? James Croft, an expert in the creation of spiritual community for people with all religious beliefs and none, argues that we must build inclusive nonreligious congregations.
Recovering from Religion director
Gayle is a former Southern Baptist who left the faith 14 years ago. She ran twice for state senate as openly atheist, for which she was labeled "the most dangerous woman in Tennesse." She is the Executive Director of Recovering from Religion, and the co-founder of NaNoCon and Murfreesboro Freethinkers. Gayle is an attorney and former personal trainer. She blogs about life, endurance event training, and secularism at Happy. Healthy. Heathen. https://gaylejordan.net/
“Recovering from Religion: A Journey, not a Destination"
Listen in as we track a seeker from the first moment she discovers her own doubts, through the moment she breaks free of the dogma of religious belief, and finally the liberation she experiences as she leaves behind superstition and begins her life as a humanist.
Dr. Marisa Richmond
LGBT rights activist, history professor
Dr Marisa Richmond is the founder and first president of the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC). In 2016 Nashville Mayor Megan Barry appointed her to the Metro Human Relations Commission, and she became the first transgender city board member in Nashville history. She is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of History and Women's and Gender Studies Program at Middle Tennessee State University. She has been a tireless advocate and lobbyist for transgender awareness and LGBT rights in Tennessee and all over the United States.
"The Fight for the Separation of Church & State is an LGBT Issue"
As anti-LGBTQ legislation is being pushed around the country, especially here in Tennessee, we are seeing the rationale based on the attempt to create a right-wing theocracy. The LGBTQ community has to fight back with allies who share in the belief that we must stand united for the separation of church and state.
Thomas Westbrook (Holy Koolaid)
YouTuber & Secular Activist
Thomas grew up as a devoutly religious missionary kid in Central Asia. Raised on fundamentalist homeschooled material, he threw himself into his Christian faith before heading off to college where he eventually left religion behind. He's now the founder of Holy Koolaid LLC, a media production company that counters pseudoscience and religious extremism with animated videos promoting scientific skepticism and critical thinking. These videos have been viewed over 26 million times on YouTube alone where he has over 235,000 subscribers. He's an international public speaker and is the president of the Faithless Forum - a conference created to build and grow an impactful atheist and skeptic YouTube community.
"Everything You Should Have Been Taught in Science Class (but Weren't)"
How does the scientific community really operate? How do we know who we can trust and why? And how do we properly test or fact check a claim? This talk will equip you the scientific knowledge and fact-checking skills everyone should have received in high school... but which most of us didn't.
Equal Rights Advocate for the Tri-State Freethinkers, activist, student
Kelly is an 18 year-old student studying at the University of Cincinnati. She has spoken at numerous conventions and rallies such as the American Atheist National Convention, The Women's March, March for Science, and previously at NaNoCon. She has spoken on a variety of topics including women's rights, LGBTQ rights, climate change, religion, and more. She is a fierce advocate, fighting for the rights of all people.
"Our Bodies, Their Choice"
Growing up, children are told they can be whoever they want to be; to reach for their dreams. But we live in a world where basic human rights are being stripped from people every day. It may be our bodies, our lives but we no longer have control unless we fight to have that right back.