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Conn. Activist of the Year

Advocacy Day

13 March 2017
Hartford, Connecticut

The Secular Coalition for Connecticut is holding a Lobby Day, or Advocacy Day at the state capitol in Hartford, to make our legislators aware of us and to advocate for three specific bills. You can register here.


Affiliate Event:
Vernon Holiday Display

December 2016
Vernon, Connecticut

Once again members of the Connecticut Valley Atheists affiliate erected a display on the Vernon Town Green.



Franklin Graham Protest

1 September 2016
Hartford, Connecticut

Franklin Graham, the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and longtime campaigner for Christian government in the U.S., is holding rallies in every state capital. He came to Hartford on Thursday the 1st of September. The Connecticut Coalition of Reason protested this event.



The Thirteenth Annual Connecticut American Atheists Summer Solstice Party

18 June 2016
Vernon, Connecticut

Yet another successful solstice party.



Reason Rally 2016

4 June 2016
Washington, D.C.

The second Reason Rally was held at the Lincoln Memorial.



Connecticut Assembly for Reason and Ethics (CARE)

2 April 2016
The Mark Twain House and Museum
Hartford, Connecticut

The Connecticut Assembly for Reason and Ethics (CARE) was a one day conference in Hartford on Saturday the 2nd of April 2016. It was a big success.

The speakers were:

  • Hemant Mehta (the "Friendly Atheist")
  • Amanda Knief (Legal and Public Policy Director at American Atheists)
  • Wendy Thomas Russell (Author, journalist, and editor)
  • Jason Heap (Executive Director for the United Coalition of Reason)

There were also several hands-on workshops.

SANE was organized and run under the auspices of the Connecticut Coalition for Reason


David Silverman at the Mark Twain House

21 January 2016
Vernon, Connecticut

David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, gave a talk at the Mark Twain House in Hartford. (I introduced him.)


Affiliate Event:
Vernon Holiday Display

December 2015
Vernon, Connecticut

Once again members of the Connecticut Valley Atheists affiliate erected a display on the Vernon Town Green.



National Day of Prayer Protest

7 May 2015
Middletown, Connecticut

We won. Middletown did not have a National Day of Prayer event in city hall this year, for the first time in many years.

I knew the National Day of Prayer event wasn't listed on the city website, but it hadn't been last year, either. So I called city hall and asked, and they told me that it was happening at noon today. Eleven of us showed up with signs, handouts, etc., ready to protest, only to find a single would-be prayer and a newspaper reporter wondering where everybody was. So I went up to the mayor's office, and was told that this year's NDP event was not being held in city hall, but in a park nearby, later that afternoon. They didn't know why someone had told me it was still on in city hall, probably whomever I talked to just assumed that it would be the same as previous years. The mayor wasn't in, but I talked to his chief of staff, who said that as far as he know the mayor was not planning to speak at the event that afternoon.

Our main objective has always been to get the event out of city hall, and now we've accomplished that. I can't know what the mayor's motivation was, but every year I've been there he'd spent his time at the podium mostly responding to our objections. Last year he didn't stick around but hurried out after a short speech. This year he called the whole thing off.

Many thanks to all who have joined me in this protest, which has been going on for four years now. We've always had around ten to fifteen people, and in the middle of a work day. I greatly appreciate the effort.

Activism can be effective. Remember that.


The 2015 American Atheists National Convention

3 - 5 April 2015
Memphis, Tennessee

The 2015 American Atheists National Convention was held in Memphis this year. Here is my report.


Firebrand Atheism Talk by David Silverman

13 December 2014
Vernon, Connecticut

David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, gave a talk on Firebrand Atheism at my house in Vernon.


Affiliate Event:
Vernon Holiday Display

December 2014
Vernon, Connecticut

Once again members of the Connecticut Valley Atheists affiliate erected a display on the Vernon Town Green.



National Day of Prayer Protest

1 May 2014
Middletown, Connecticut

Once again a National Day of Prayer ceremony was held in the Middletown Town Hall. Once again we were there to protest.

Here is the statement I passed out at the protest:

National Day of Prayer Protest in Middletown May 1, 2014

Why we are here.

A National Day of Prayer gathering is being held at the Middletown Town Hall, with the participation of Mayor Daniel Drew. This is an annual event intended to directly attack the secular nature of our nation as established by the founding fathers.

Encouraging bad habits is a dubious activity for a town government in any circumstance, but when those bad habits are of a religious nature, it's not merely a bad idea, it's an unconstitutional one. By endorsing a religious act, the town of Middletown is dismissing the thousands of Atheists among its citizens and defiantly rejecting one of the fundamental principles of American democracy. We are here to make it clear that such defiance is unacceptable to those who understand that our constitutional right to freedom from religion is one of the key pillars of American liberty.



The 2014 American Atheists National Convention

17 - 20 April 2014
Salt Lake City, Utah

Here's my report on the 2014 convention.


Affiliate Event:
Vernon Holiday Display

December 2013
Vernon, Connecticut

Once again members of the Connecticut Valley Atheists affiliate erected a display on the Vernon Town Green. We've actually been doing it every year since 2007, although I haven't always noted it here.



Secular Assembly for the North East

19 October 2013
West Haven, Connecticut

The Secular Assembly for the North East (SANE) was a one day conference in West Haven on Saturday the 19th of October 2013. It was a big success. We sold out the hall. Activists from across the state and beyond took the opportunity to get together, network, and hear speakers expound on a number of related subjects.

The speakers were:

  • Jessica Ahlquist, the Rhode Island student who successfully got a prayer removed from her school's auditorium
  • Liz Heywood, who lost her leg as a child because her parents prayed for her instead of doing something useful
  • Dennis Paul Himes, the Connecticut State Director of American Atheists
  • Sikivu Hutchinson, an author who writes about gender, race, and Atheism
  • Barry Kosmin, from Trinity University's Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture
  • David Niose, the president of the Secular Coalition for America
  • David Silverman, the president of American Atheists

SANE was run under the auspices of the Connecticut Coalition for Reason, with the Atheist Humanist Association for Connecticut and Rhode Island, Camp Quest New England, Connecticut Valley Atheists, the Hartford Area Humanists, and the Humanist Association of Connecticut as sponsors.


Affiliate Event:
Connecticut Valley Atheists in the Willimantic Boom Box Parade

4 July 2013
Willimantic, Connecticut

American Atheist affiliate Connecticut Valley Atheists again marched in the Willimantic Boom Box Parade on the Fourth of July.



The Tenth Annual Connecticut American Atheists Summer Solstice Party

22 June 2013
Vernon, Connecticut

Yet another successful solstice party.



National Day of Prayer Protest

2 May 2013
Middletown, Connecticut

Every year the Christian radio station WIHS sponsors a National Day of Prayer ceremony in the Middletown Town Hall, which the mayor participates in. This event is very theocratic, urging Middletown officials to adopt an explictly Christian approach to governing. This year the even took place in the City Council chambers.

There were about a dozen of us protesting this year. It was covered in the Middletown Press

Until we take legal action, which is an option we're exploring, this event will probably continue, but we will make sure no one thinks that it's just another community event that no one really cares about.



The 2013 American Atheists Convention

29 - 31 March 2013
Austin, Texas

Here's my report on the 2013 convention.


Noel Ambery has died.

29 November 2012

Noel was a longtime active member of American Atheists from Connecticut. I know a number of you met him when he attended Dave Silverman's debate in Torrington. He also attended, I think, every convention that I did, as well as the winter solstice parties they used to have in New Jersey.

Noel was as nice as they come. Not only was he always good for a pleasant chat whenever we'd meet at a convention or other event, but he would often respond to one of these members' emails with a short note of encouragement, a "good job" or "thanx", which I appreciated more than I ever got the chance to tell him.

He'll be missed.


Talk at a Humanist Association of Connecticut Dinner

24 July 2012
Glastonbury, Connecticut

I gave a talk at a Humanist Association of Connecticut dinner on the subject of Modal Realism and the Argument from First Cause. The text of the talk is here: http://www.cookhimes.us/dennis/hac.htm,


Camp Quest New England

20-22 July 2012
New London, Connecticut

Camp Quest New England has had its first camp. This was only an extended weekend, but the hope is to have a full week long camp next year.


Affiliate Event:
Connecticut Valley Atheists in the Willimantic Boom Box Parade

4 July 2012
Willimantic, Connecticut

American Atheist affiliate Connecticut Valley Atheists marched in the Willimantic Boom Box Parade on the Fourth of July for the second year in a row. This year Uncle Sam marched along.



The Ninth Annual Connecticut American Atheists Summer Solstice Party

23 June 2012
Vernon, Connecticut

Yet another successful solstice party.



Atheist Hike

13 May 2012
Glastonbury and Hebron, Connecticut

We went for a hike in Gay City State Park. We had a good crowd and a lot of fun. We'll be doing it again in the future.


National Day of Prayer Protest

3 May 2012
Middletown, Connecticut

Thursday the Third of May was the National Day of Prayer. Most activities involved people wasting their time on town greens and such as private groups, but in the city of Middletown there was a prayer ceremony in town hall attended by the mayor. This event was advertized on the town web site.

We protested. The ceremony was a very conservative Protestant event. I've heard that the Catholics were invited to participate, but declined. There were ten protesters, including Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, who drove up from New Jersey. The mayor, who seemed annoyed that we were there, nevertheless talked about inclusiveness of all points of view when it was his turn to speak.



The Reason Rally & The 2012 American Atheists Convention

24 - 26 March 2012
Washington, D.C.

Here's my report on the Reason Rally and the 2012 convention.


Affiliate Event:
Connecticut Valley Atheists in the Willimantic Boom Box Parade

4 July 2011
Willimantic, Connecticut

American Atheist affiliate Connecticut Valley Atheists marched in the Willimantic Boom Box Parade on the Fourth of July.



The Eighth Annual Connecticut American Atheists Summer Solstice Party

Saturday, 18 June 2011, 1:00 p.m.
Vernon, Connecticut


A good turnout of people having a good time.


2011 American Atheist National Convention

21 - 24 April 2011
Des Moines, Iowa

Here's my report on the 2011 convention.


Hartford City Council Protest

Monday, 13 December 2010, 6:00 p.m.
Hartford City Hall
Hartford, Connecticut 06103

On Monday the 13th of December 2010 American Atheists and Connecticut Valley Atheists cosponsored a protest at the Hartford City Council. We sat down during the opening prayer, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance in its uncorrupted form (i.e. without "under God"). There were (if I counted correctly) 14 protesters in attendance, including American Atheists president David Silverman.

This event got good press coverage, including a feature in that night's Channel 3 news.

This is the statement I read to the council beforehand:

I'm Dennis Himes, the president of Connecticut Valley Atheists and the Connecticut State Director of American Atheists. While I no longer live here, I was a resident of Hartford for sixteen years, and my granddaughter currently lives on Nelson Street. I'm here with many of my fellow Atheists specifically to remain seated when called to rise for the opening prayer.

There is a feeling all too prevalent in the State of Connecticut that we all believe in the same god, we just call him by different names. We are here to remind you that that is not so. There are hundreds of thousands of people in Connecticut who do not believe in any gods, and whenever you begin a session of a government meeting with a prayer you are telling those people that they are not considered part of your constituency.

One of the founding principles of this nation is the idea that governments have no business taking a stand on theological disputes. That principle, although imperfectly applied throughout the centuries, has nonetheless been a key factor in preserving the freedoms which are the crowning achievement of our society. A governmental body participating in a prayer, however, is in direct violation of that principle.

I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you do not actually use superstition as a guide when making your decisions, but, nonetheless, ceremonial religious practices like this reinforce the idea that religious faith is somehow a virtue and that extra consideration should be given to people, actions, and beliefs just because they are religious in nature. It is this idea, more than anything intrinsic to religion itself, which is responsible for both the abuses of organized religions and the massive subsidies we, as taxpayers, are required to supply them with. Prayers before public meetings are but one factor in perpetuating this idea, but one which is easily removed.

Hartford is not by any means the only town which violates the constitution this way. We chose Hartford for the first protest of this kind partly because of its symbolic importance as the capital of our state, but mostly because your recent decision to allow a Muslim prayer before the council shows that you have been thinking about this issue and have made some progress towards becoming more inclusive, even if you haven't yet gone quite far enough to include us.


Affiliate Event:
The Big Question - Does God Exist?

Thursday, 22 July 2010, 7:00 p.m.
Groton Public Library
Groton, Connecticut 06340

This was "A panel discussion examining the classical arguments for God and modern Atheist perspectives about God and religion" featuring Professor Andrew Pessin (Conn. College) and the American Atheists Connecticut State Director, Dennis Paul Himes.

This event was cosponsored by affiliate The Atheist Humanist Society of Connecticut and Rhode Island.


Affiliate Event:
Blind Belief: How Faith Cripples Civilization

Friday, 9 July 2010, 7:00 p.m.
The Art League of New Britain
New Britain, Connecticut 06052

Celebrated author Brian Trent discussed the history and politics behind the prevailing "culture of belief" in America and beyond.

This event was sponsored by affiliate Connecticut Valley Atheists.


Summer Solstice Party

Saturday, 19 June 2010, 1:00 p.m.
Vernon, Connecticut


Not quite as many people as the last couple years, but still a good crowd from around the state. Thanks to everyone who came.


Convention 2010

2 - 4 April 2010
Elizabeth, New Jersey

Yet another successful national convention. We had at least eight people from Connecticut attend.


For details, see my report in the CVA blog.


Summer Solstice Party

Saturday, 20 June 2009, 1:00 p.m.
Vernon, Connecticut


Yet another great solstice party. This was the sixth. Thanks to everyone who came.


Convention 2009

9 - 12 April 2009
Atlanta, Georgia

Yet another successful convention. For details, see my report in the CVA blog.


Winter Solstice Gala

Saturday, 13 December 2008, 11:30 - 4:00
Clark, New Jersey

This was the national office's annual Yuletide party. I was there. I got to meet our new president, Ed Buckner, and afterward see the refurbished national headquarters.


Summer Solstice Party

Saturday, 21 June 2008, 1:00 p.m.
Vernon, Connecticut


The fifth annual Connecticut American Atheist Solstice Party was another great success. We had over thirty people this year. Once again, it was a great opportunity for Atheists from different parts of the state to meet each other.


Talk at New Britain UU Church

Sunday, 13 April 2008, 10:30 a.m.
New Britain, Connecticut

I gave a talk at the Unitarian Universalist Church in New Britain this Sunday, the 13th of April, at 10:30 a.m. entitled, "In Good We Trust: An Atheist Perspective on the Sources of Morality". You can read the text of the talk on my personal website.


Convention 2008
Minneapolis, Minnesota

21 - 23 March 2008

This was another great convention. I've posted a fairly lengthy report on the CVA blog.


Winter Solstice Meet 'n' Greet

Saturday, 22 December 2007, 12:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Clark, New Jersey

This was the national office's annual Yuletide party, a nativity-free way to enjoy the holiday season. I was there. Yet another good time in New Jersey, as we have every year.


Winter Holiday Display


Saturday, 1 December 2007
Vernon, Connecticut

Members of the Connecticut Valley Atheists affiliate erected a display on the Vernon Town Green. Traditionally there has only been a Christian display there. We would prefer no displays, but if they're going to get one, so are we.


Summer Solstice Party


Saturday, 23 June 2007, 1:00 p.m.
Vernon, Connecticut

This year's Solstice party was a great success. Thanks to everyone who came. If I counted right, we had nineteen people, not counting me and my family. What was especially nice about this event was that people from different parts of the state, who would usually only meet with others in their area, got to meet people from other parts of the state. We had partiers from Torrington to Norwich attending.


Convention 2007
Seattle, Washington

6 - 8 April 2007

The annual convention is always a great place to meet Atheists from all over the country, hear interesting speakers, and buy more books than you have time to read, and this one was no exception.


Winter Solstice Meet 'n' Greet

Saturday, 16 December 2006, 12:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Clark, New Jersey

This is the national office's annual Yuletide party, a nativity-free way to enjoy the holiday season. I was there. Another good time in New Jersey.


Summer Solstice Party

Saturday, 24 June 2006, 1:00 p.m.
Vernon, Connecticut

The third annual Connecticut American Atheist Solstice Party was a success. It rained for much of it, but we barbequed on my back porch, and all enjoyed ourselves.


Convention 2006
San Antonio, Texas

14 - 16 April 2006

Another great convention, with interesting speakers and lots of networking among activists. It was a chance to touch base not only with my fellow state directors, but with a wide variety of Atheists from all around the country.


Pledge Counter-Rally


left to right: Shane Hobart, Mark ?, Dennis Himes, Peter Cushnie, Kevin Coon, and Laura Cook

Saturday, 5 November 2005, 12:00 p.m.
Milford, Connecticut

The Milford Knights of Columbus held a rally on Saturday 5 Nov. in support of the revised, exclusionary version of the Pledge of Allegiance (i.e. with "under God"). Mayor Richetelli attended. We held a counter-rally in support of the original, inclusive version.

The counter-rally was a success. There were six of us, five Atheists and a Christian who supports church/state separation. The Knights of Columbus rally was in the parking lot of the KofC hall, and had about 200 attendees. We were not allow to get close enough to hear the speeches (we were ordered off their private property), but stood on the sidewalk right in front of the parking lot holding signs. There was a lot less confrontation compared to last year's demo on the Milford Green.

There were reports on the rallies on channels 3, 8, and 61. 3 and 8 showed me giving our side of the issue and 61 showed Kevin Coon. I don't get channel 12, but apparently they had something as well. There were also articles in the New Haven Register, the Connecticut Post, and the Milford Review.


Summer Solstice Party

Saturday, 18 June 2005, 1:00 p.m.
Vernon, Connecticut

I had a solstice party again at my house in June. Once again a pleasant time was had by all.


Convention 2005
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

25 - 27 March 2005

I attended the 2005 American Atheists' national convention in Philadelphia. I was happy to see several members from Connecticut there. These conventions are a great opportunity to meet and hear members of the American Atheist leadership, as well as ordinary members doing their best to preserve freedom from religion throughout this country.


Protest in Milford
Milford, Connecticut

11:00 a.m., Sunday 19 December 2004

The demonstration in Milford was a success, at least in terms of getting attention. There were six people there on our side, five American Atheist members and a Christian passerby who supported our position. There were about many more people on the other side. I estimated 60, and I heard estimates from 100 to 250 in the media. There were maybe four or five TV crews and about as many newspaper reporters. I had made up signs saying, "Are there no church lawns in Milford?" and several other members brought signs of their own. I was handing out a copy of my official statement, reproduced on the Issues page, to anyone who would take one. There were several members of the Milford Police present who would separate us when things got too heated.

Some of the counter-demonstrators were polite and willing to engage in mannerly discussion. Many others were not. When I tried to read my statement I was drowned out by singing and shouting, which continued during my next TV interview, so that the TV crew and I had to back away and huddle together so the mike could pick us up. Later a local preacher said to the crowd, "I'm Pastor Loomer of the Borean Assembly of God Church, and even though I don't agree with these guys I think they should be heard. Are you willing to allow him to read his statement?" The assembled Christians shouted in unison, "NO!".

I watched the reports on channels 8 (ABC), 30 (NBC), and 6 (Fox). They picked essentially the same quote from my interview, saying that the creche gives the impression that Milford is a Christian city, which is unAmerican. 30 also showed me saying that we wouldn't be there if the creche were displayed at the church down the street.

The demo was also on the front page of both the New Haven Register and the Connecticut (Bridgeport) Post, which went into more detail.


Winter Solstice Meet 'n' Greet

Saturday, 18 December 2003, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Clark, New Jersey

This is the national office's annual Yuletide party. I was there. There were more people than last year, about 80 or so.


Summer Solstice Party

Saturday, 19 June 2004, 1:00 p.m.
Vernon, Connecticut

I had a solstice party at my house in June for AA members. Several members came, and a pleasant time was had by all.


Pledge Rally

Monday, 14 June 2004, 6:00 p.m.
New Haven, Connecticut

We held a rally in front of the federal courthouse in New Haven to protest the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the Ninth District Court of Appeal's ruling that the addition of the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional. The court did not rule on the constitutionality of the addition per se, it instead ruled that Michael Newdow did not have standing in the first place.

There were six of us there, five from American Atheists, and one from Humanistic Judaism of Fairfield County (who turned out to be an AA member as well). We held up signs, passed out fliers to passers-by, chanted, and spoke to the people hanging out across the street on the Green using the megaphone that somebody'd brought.

The only media people there were a reporter and a cameraman from Channel 61 (Fox) news, but they did a report on the rally on the evening news, which included some shots of us holding up signs, and a quote from me saying that overturning "under God" should have been a "no-brainer" for the Supreme Court.


Convention 2004
San Diego, California

9 - 11 April 2004

I attended the American Atheists' national convention in San Diego. The most interesting speakers, I thought, were Susan Blackmore and James Polichak, who debated the theory of memetics.

Once again, I think the real benefit I derived from the convention was in the informal conversations I had with activists from all across the country over the weekend.


Winter Solstice Meet 'n' Greet

Sunday, 21 December 2003
Clark, New Jersey

This was a Yuletide party put on by the American Atheist national office. I went. There were about 40 - 50 people there, mostly from the area. After the party most of us went to visit the national headquarters nearby.


Convention 2003
Chicago, Illinois

18 - 20 April 2003

I attended the American Atheists' national convention in Chicago (really Bloomingdale), Illinois.

I'm glad I did. I acquired a lot of useful information from the talks and the state directors' meetings, but the real benefit I derived from the convention, I think, was in the informal conversations I had with activists from all across the country over the weekend. I also met four members from Connecticut whom I hadn't known about before.