What became a regional convention enjoying over 800 total attendees from Oklahoma, Texas, Florida, Kentucky, Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Iowa, and Minnesota in its first two years began humbly as a failed attempt of a localized meet up.
In November of 2010, the newly-appointed president of the Atheist Community of Tulsa (ACT) began planning for a 2011 National Day of Reason celebration, lecture, and blood and food drive. The prospective draw for the event was The Atheist Experience’s Matt Dillahunty. While Dillahunty did give a tentative ‘yes’, he was cautious to give an authoritative affirmation due to his speaking at the American Atheists Convention in Iowa scheduled just two weeks prior to the May 5 celebration. So, in early March, the two mutually agreed to suspend further discussions about the event.
Undeterred about having Dillahunty in Tulsa for the atheist community, however, on March 7 the ACT president inquired about his speaking later in the summer and Matt graciously obliged.
The date was set: July 30, 2011.
The president then asked his fellow members in a Facebook post, “If we held a one-day freethought event in the summer with guest speakers and entertainers from around the country…would you and your friends come check it out?”
The response was overwhelmingly positive. With Dillahunty on board, it seemed only reasonable to invite his good friend, the popular Youtube atheist activist and evolutionist, AronRa, to accompany him and give a presentation opener. Not long after AronRa gave his written affirmation, Seth Andrews of The Thinking Atheist joined the ranks and a convention was born.
Evolutionary biologist, Abbie Smith, and former Oral Roberts University History professor turned agnostic, Dr. William Morgan (who helped promote the convention’s charity at Charity: Water), then both jumped on board to complete the lineup to give the convention a diverse and unique atmosphere.
The one-day event enjoyed the attendance of 318 secularists and inspired the collection of over $5,000 for build a water well in Malawi via Charity: Water. With its success, it was decided FreeOK would return in 2012.
Thus in 2012, FreeOK returned with Oklahoma’s largest atheist community, Oklahoma Atheists (AOK), on board.
Presented by the the American Humanist Association, FreeOK 2012 saw the reappearance of Seth Andrews and Abbie Smith and, in addition, featured David Silverman, Eddie Tabash, Hemant Mehta, Teresa MacBain, and Caleb Lack in the lineup.
On June 23, 2012, 505 secularists from around the country converged at the Tulsa Convention Center in downtown Tulsa, OK to partake in the historic event.