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Atheist Unity Convention

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.

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  • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

    “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.”

    Edward Current and The Amazing Atheist come to mind here, though the latter seems to be in it more for comedy. But still, the online community is ever expanding. When I am on online, I don’t feel like Christians outnumber atheists.

    “That is one of the real differences between atheists and believers. We are all atheist leaders.”

    This is true, we all have our own mind.

    I guess it is a good think that a convention exists now but time will tell how it performs.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant

    The meeting this weekend is not for “atheist leaders,” but rather for the leaders of the national atheist organizations. There’s a different. Many “big-name” atheists (like PZ or the YouTubers or bloggers) are not part of this gathering. It’s not because we don’t care about them or recognize their importance or anything like that. They just don’t run non-profit groups. End of story. We talk about things like strategy for our groups, agenda items for the coming year, how to share resources, etc. It’s not about how to be the rulers of all atheists.

    A possible Unity Convention *may* be held in DC, but maybe not. Politics is not a major priority. It’s just a possibility. I wouldn’t read any more into it than that.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      I think you missed the joke about my invitation being lost in the mail. But one point that I want to make clear is that the convention (if it takes place) should go out of their way to spotlight net atheists.

      I think that if we don’t focus the unity convention on politics, then there really isn’t a point to it. There would be no difference between many smaller conventions or one big one. But if we want to make a statement that people of reason vote and can affect an election, then one big convention is important to show our strength.

  • Eshto

    This headline got my attention.

  • stripeyunderpants

    There are SO many afterlives to choose from, how would I ever know which one to pick, assuming I really did believe in them at all? Some Christians have their heaven and hell, others include purgatory as an option, and still others say that the dead stay dead until the second coming of Christ, when everyone gets resurrected and sorted out like old files in the office basement; the Norse had Valhalla, Buddhists say we get reincarnated over and over; and so on. What if hell is simply getting sent back to Earth? What if heaven is on some other planet that we get to choose? What if we get shuttled off to another dimension to live the alternate life that we might have had if we’d made better decisions? What if everyone, even the worst people, get rehabilitated and sent to some version of heaven? The believers never stop to think that maybe they have it all wrong.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    I imagine that there are a few Republican politicians who will enjoy the trip down.