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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Atheists Kicked Out of Conservative Conference

Posted by on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 12:56 PM

This morning, I read somewhere that the American Atheists were going to have a booth at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, the big annual pep rally for Republicans. I thought that was surprising, given how many Republicans think that they get their marching orders straight from Jesus. This news actually impressed me. Maybe Republicans are trying to open up their party to differing viewpoints after all, I thought.

But a few minutes ago, we just got a press release from the American Athiests. Here are the first few paragraphs:

CPAC Boots Atheist Booth
Atheists: ‘This Is Exactly the Problem’

Washington, DC—On Tuesday, American Atheists President David Silverman received a phone call from American Conservative Union Executive Director Dan Schneider informing him that the ACU board is breaking its agreement to permit American Atheists to host an information booth at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), March 6-8.

According to Silverman, Schneider cited “the tone” in the quote “The Christian right should be threatened by us.”, which was in a Tuesday CNN article, as the reason for the revocation. This reversal came just hours after a press release from American Atheists announcing the booth, one week before the conference.

I knew it was too good to be true. Keep that tent small and air-tight, Republicans! Only good things can happen if you keep narrowing your standards for "pure" Republicans to straight white God-fearing Americans. (The rest of the press release, including an announcement for the very sad-sounding 40th National Atheist Convention, is after the jump.)

Silverman repudiated Schneider’s assertion: “This is exactly the problem. The ACU, which has invited CPAC speakers such as Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Sarah Palin, is afraid of my tone? My ‘tone’ was clearly an excuse to back out after our press release angered religious conservatives.”

“Continuing to conflate religion and conservatism is not a viable strategy; this was apparently too scary for CPAC attendees to hear,” Silverman said. “America’s religious conservatives can deny it all they want, but soon they’re going to realize that ignoring the growing number of atheist constituents is a losing proposition.”

In the weeks after American Atheists registered for CPAC, a member of the American Atheists board met with CPAC organizers to discuss CPAC 2015. “Our input was well-received and the atmosphere was positive. We suggested several atheist speakers for 2015 and welcomed the opportunity to engage about conservative issues,” Silverman said. American Atheists also planned a special promotion allowing anyone attending CPAC to sign up for a free one-year membership and a discount to the American Atheists National Convention, April 17-20 in Salt Lake City.

Silverman left the door open to reconciliation. “We still want to attend CPAC. If the ACU will invite us to exhibit as previously agreed, we will be there to talk about the importance of religious equality,” he said.

The CPAC conference comes just six weeks ahead of American Atheists’ own 40th National Convention, which will take place Easter weekend in Salt Lake City. The convention will feature such speakers such as former NFL punter Chris Kluwe, Survivor®: Philippines winner Denise Stapley, Grammy-nominated Spin Doctors bass player Mark White, Oscar-nominated director David A. Silverman, astrobiologist Dr. David Morrison, Reverend Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Maryam Namazie of the Council of Ex-Muslims, popular bloggers PZ Myers and Greta Christina, and American Atheists President David Silverman. The convention will also feature a costume dinner, live music, stand-up comedy, an art show and silent auction, national and local exhibitors, and childcare options for attending families. The convention takes place the weekend of April 17-20, 2014.

AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair.


Comments (16) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Oh, republicans. Is there an ever-growing minority you won't disenfranchise?
Posted by GermanSausage on February 25, 2014 at 1:02 PM · Report this
Banna 2
Someone should clue Republicans in that "big tent politics" doesn't mean "big empty tent" politics.
Posted by Banna on February 25, 2014 at 1:17 PM · Report this
sirkowski 3
Atheists should know better.
Posted by sirkowski on February 25, 2014 at 1:23 PM · Report this
Who is John Galt?

Oh, he wasn't invited.
Posted by JAT on February 25, 2014 at 1:25 PM · Report this
fletc3her 5
But will I be able to buy "Subhuman Mongrel" shirts?
Posted by fletc3her on February 25, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 6
Who was it that said last year (and how did the exact quote go) that CPAC is basically the republican party's version of an Insane Clown Posse carnival (or whatever it is called).
Posted by Dr_Awesome on February 25, 2014 at 2:17 PM · Report this
You know what? I can't defend or feel bad for conservative atheists. They're just as bad as Christian conservatives and I find, even today, them using the same arguments (biology!) to defend trans and gay discrimination.

They are nothing more that Ayn Rand religious extremists using "objectivism" to, well, believe that they are "objective". They're the pompous asses of atheism.
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on February 25, 2014 at 2:37 PM · Report this
Knat 8
Precisely how Silverman wanted it to play out, and the guys (you know it's all men) running CPAC were too stupid to see the obvious trap. Apparently they didn't have the mental horsepower to come up with a "free speech zone" sort of solution either; they had to do the dumbest thing possible instead.

Well done, American Atheists.
Posted by Knat on February 25, 2014 at 2:49 PM · Report this
*tips fedora*
Posted by William F. Fuckley on February 25, 2014 at 3:09 PM · Report this
Why does it sound sad Paul? Kluwe will be there.
Posted by No Excuses on February 25, 2014 at 3:10 PM · Report this
rob! 11
What @7 said, but that 40th National Atheist Convention actually sounds pretty good.

But then I'm out here in Dust Devil Alley, where I think there's a quilt show at the Methodist Social Hall this weekend.
Posted by rob! on February 25, 2014 at 3:17 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 12
Paul, you are sadly mistaken: conservatives worship a god called "Jeebus," not Jesus. Jesus, as you probably know, felt that healing the sick & caring for the poor was a good thing. Jeebus, otoh, is more like Zardoz: where the penis is evil & the gun is good. Because the Brutals multiply and are legion, doncha no.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on February 25, 2014 at 3:39 PM · Report this
Gurldoggie 13
I liked a recent quote from Neil DeGrasse Tyson that I read: "It's odd that the word 'atheist' even exists. I don't play golf, is there a word for non-golf players? Do non-golf players gather and strategize? Do non-skiers have a word, and come together, and talk about the fact that they don't ski?"
Posted by Gurldoggie on February 25, 2014 at 4:24 PM · Report this
@13, I don't much care for that quote. That's actually a common tactic to delegitimize atheists; to suggest that they are wasting their time or full of themselves. From Patheos:
If people who didn’t play golf were discriminated against, then we’d make a bigger deal about that, too. But people who don’t play golf can still get elected to Congress all across the country. People who don’t believe in god are banned from even running for office in several states (at least in the books).

Posted by seilo on February 25, 2014 at 4:55 PM · Report this
Mahtli69 15
@11 They lost me at "Grammy-nominated Spin Doctors bass player" as a featured speaker.
Posted by Mahtli69 on February 25, 2014 at 6:40 PM · Report this

For The Win.
Posted by CPN on February 25, 2014 at 10:14 PM · Report this

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