National convention

Atheists will hold a national convention in Atlanta on Easter weekend

It’s also not the first gathering of American atheists deep in the Bible belt and there’s a long-standing tradition of holding them over the long Easter holiday, one of the holiest times for Christians. , who observe the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The meeting is also part of the celebration of Passover this year, a time when Jews observe the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt, which begins at sundown on April 15 and ends on the evening of April. April 23.

In 2017, for example, the convention was held in August in Charleston, South Carolina, to coincide with the solar eclipse.

The organization was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the controversial non-believer who proudly accepted the nickname “America’s Most Hated Woman” for her anti-religion activism. O’Hair fought for the separation of church and state.

Speakers include Mandisa L. Thomas, founder and president of the Atlanta-based Black Noncross Association, a nonprofit that promotes itself as a safe space for black people who “live without faith”; and Dave Warnock, former evangelical pastor and author.

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Thomas will discuss white supremacy within the atheist community, but she also wants to show the diversity of the atheist community.

Founded in 2011, Black Noncrossing has a community of about 10,000 nationwide, Thomas said.

She hopes people will better understand who atheists are. “We can be very compassionate and caring people like everyone else,” she said. “We care about issues of economic justice and reproductive justice and ensure laws reflect equal treatment for all, including atheists.”

According to the Pew Research Center, the share of Americans who identify as atheists has increased over the past decade.

In the United States, 4% of adults identified themselves as atheists, based on a telephone survey conducted in 2018 and 2019, up from 2% in 2009. Additionally, 5% of Americans identify themselves as agnostic, having neither faith or disbelief in God. , compared to 3% ten years earlier.

The event kicks off Thursday with a charity game night to benefit Access Reproductive Care – Southeast, a non-profit organization that provides reproductive care, including abortion services.

The organization also plans to do community service in Atlanta. Members will prepare meals to feed the hungry through local food banks.

The fact that the convention will be held at Easter – is no coincidence.

“It’s the convenience of holding it for this week,” said Debbie Goddard, vice president of programs. “We can get really good hotel rates” because of the timing and “to be honest, a lot of our members aren’t busy this weekend.”