Apparently, this weekend there will be a meeting of atheist leaders. I didn’t even know there were atheist leaders, but I digress. I’m sure my invitation must have been lost in the mail. In any case, one of the topics on the agenda is whether or not to have one huge massive atheist unity convention in our nation’s capital.
The idea for an Atheist Unity Convention is the brainchild of Margaret Downey, President of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia. As a former board-member of that organization and a current member I have gotten to know Margaret pretty well over the years. If anyone can organize such a massive group of nonconformists together and herd the cats of atheism, it is Margaret. She is dynamic voice and an outstanding organizer.
The problem with this convention plan: Apparently many of the atheist groups have their own yearly conventions that they rely on for fundraisers. Being part of the Atheist Unity Convention might mean that their members won’t go to their smaller conventions.
Personally, I haven’t been to any atheist conventions because I’m poor and can’t afford the air travel. But if the convention was to be held in DC, then I can drive there. I really don’t care which atheist group is putting on the convention. If it is convenient for me to go and I can afford it, I will go. That being said, I would be more willing to scrounge up money to go to a large Atheist Unity Convention than I would a convention with less noble aspirations.
One of the reasons for a more united atheist convention is so we can let politicians in Washington and people in the media know that we are unified in some way and that we can be a voting block if we want to. Such a show of force (by numbers) will go a long way. So if you are a member of one of the larger atheist groups send them an e-mail before this weekend and tell them that if they decide not to support the Unity Convention, you will not support them. Let them know that a Unity Convention can be a great way to get new members.
Another problem with these kinds of atheist conventions is that there really aren’t atheist leaders the way there are Christian leaders. Atheism has spread in large part to the interwebs. There are some well know YouTube atheists and bloggers who would not be considered “leaders” yet they often carry more authority than so called leaders of big atheist organizations. A Unity Convention will need to reflect that. This weekend meeting of atheist leaders surely does not. That is one of the real differences between atheists and believers. We are all atheist leaders.