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Unity Convention - The Ultimate Atheist Convention
Hypatia
There's some talk going around (Margaret Downey, PZ Meyers, Friendly Atheist) about the possibility of all the major atheist and humanist groups putting together one huge atheist convention.

http://scienceblo...haryngula/

From Pharyngula

I Want A Unity Convention!

An annoying but intrinsic property of atheists is that we are all horribly fractured — this is a disparate group with no central leadership, and that's the way we like it — but it also means our presence is fragmented and easier to ignore. We have all these different godless organizations with different national meetings that overlap and often share members, but no coherence. Margaret Downey has been pushing an idea for a little while that you can read about in a post on the Friendly Atheist from last year: we should all at least once get together in one giant massive united meeting and make a show of our numbers and our common goals.

It's been a struggle to get this together. The initial plan was to do it in 2010, but that's not going to happen; the proposal now is to stage a Unity Convention in 2013 in Washington, DC. All the national non-theist organizations would coordinate for this event and bring their memberships together in one gathering, one grand mega-meeting in which we'd let the leaders of the country know that we're here and we're watching them and we vote.

I think it's a fabulous idea. I'd go. How many of you would join us? We could all join hands in the Mall and make a joyful noise for humanity and reason, and then adjourn to the Smithsonian for some tasty science. If you like the idea, leave an endorsement here or at Hemant's site…and, I might add, if you're a member of one of the many atheist groups in the US, let your leadership know you want to be able to share the dream with everyone else.

Posted by PZ Myers at 1:01 PM • 109 Comments • 0 TrackBacks


Friendly Atheist

http://friendlyat...onference/

Could We Hold the Ultimate Atheist Conference?
Posted by Hemant Mehta in FFRF, General, Secular Coalition for America on January 20th, 2008 | 33 Comments

At the “meeting of the atheist leaders” on Saturday, there were several discussions about tactics and ideas for future collaboration.

The idea that caught my attention the most was Atheist Alliance International (AAI) president Margaret Downey’s call for a “Unity Convention in 2010.”

Right now, the major national atheist groups hold conferences once a year. They get between a couple hundred to several hundred attendees each. There’s a lot of overlap, too, with many people goingto multiple conventions. Nowhere near the tens of thousands of people who go to certain religious conventions. Sometimes, the registration is through the roof and people have to be turned away, as was the case with the recent AAI conference.

Imagine if the conventions of AAI, American Atheists, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the American Humanist Association, and the Center For Inquiry could be combined. This could be in addition to the groups’ yearly conferences or in lieu of them.

Just for a year.

Maybe not all of them would want to join in, but even if a few did, it would be impressive.

That was the sentiment that Margaret was conveying.


Click the link to read the rest of the story.

Not only do I think it would be great fun, and excitement, to meet up with so many atheists and non-theists, but I think it's very important for us to have a gathering of this magnitude to let America, and our government, know just how large and strong our numbers are, and to send a message that we are voters and that atheism is a positive, not a negative like so many like to purport.

How many of you think you would be interested in a convention of like this and would make an effort to attend?
 
catman
Count me in!
 
Sinny
It could be a modern day Woodstock for atheists....hey an atheist woodstock ha ha. Only this time with real bathrooms and food. I like the idea of waiting until the full year of 2012 is over, might get more to come in and enjoy the fun when come to the realization the world isn't coming to an end.
 
catman
That will be after the next Presidential election.
 
derF
I like the idea although Washington is a long way from California. But I would still support it.
I'll drink to that. Or anything else for that matter.
 
Hypatia
Yeah, DC is a long way from NM too. But at least with the prospective date being a couple of years or more away, it gives people time to set aside money for it, and plan how they will travel.

It's always possible that if there are at least several, or quite a few, from any given area that want to go they could car pool, or rent a bus, make a vacation of it, etc.
 
Hypatia
catman wrote:
That will be after the next Presidential election.


Right now I believe Margaret Downey is targeting 2013 as the year, but there seem to be many who are asking if it could happen in 2012 since that will be an election year, and the prospect of having a huge non-theist turn out in DC could have a bigger impact on sending the message of just how many American voters are atheist, agnostic, humanist, etc., along with the message that we've had enough of being marginalized and denied a seat at the table - most importantly the political table.
 
catman
It seems to me that we would be better served if it did happen in 2012. I'm sure a lot of people would be less than happy to see us, but we would be hard to ignore if there were enough of us. Even those who couldn't be there could make it clear that our views were represented by those who were there, if the thing were done right.
 
Doubting Thomas
Yeah we need to have it before Dec. 21, 2012 because that's when the world ends because the Mayan calendar runs out!!!1!
You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me and not you.
 
Hypatia
DT - lol.

In 2007 Margaret Downey live video streamed the AAI convention over the Internet, and she says she wants to do the same thing with the Unity Convention, for those who can't physically attend. She said the bodies being there is highly important, but that the Internet connection will 'push this event to the largest gathering in the history of atheism!'.
 
Theory_Execution
And then a Muslim/Chrisitian/Xenunian runs into the crowd and blows themselves up!

Lol, no it might be a good idea that.
 
catman
But the Muslim/Christian/Xenunian would take some of us with him. Wouldn't want that to happen.

Wouldn't it be a trip if the Mayans knew a lot more about astronomy than we thought, and that a big comet or asteroid will hit the Earth on December 21, 2012?Cool
 
Hypatia
Update:

http://friendlyat...onvention/

The Future of an Atheist Unity Convention?

Posted by Hemant Mehta in General on January 9th, 2010 | 8 Comments

I’ve written a couple posts about a possible atheist “Unity” convention.

Today, the leaders of several national non-theistic organizations got together for an annual meeting to discuss strategy, future plans, and bounce ideas off each other. The Unity Convention was one of the agenda items.

First, the bad news, then the good.

Here’s where we’re at:

There are some very important reasons not to go forward with this idea.

Money is a big one. For example: How would we raise the necessary funding to rent space? Would we rely on internet fundraising? Ask national organizations to invest (quite a bit of) money? What if no one came and we couldn’t recoup the costs? How much should that registration cost be? Let’s say after registration fees were taken in, and groups were paid back what they invested into this, there was a profit. What would happen with the extra money? None of this is a trivial matter.

Who would take charge of such a convention? One person? A committee? A national group or two? There needs to be a leader or three… and when that’s the case, how do we make sure this doesn’t turn into something that’s all about them or their groups?

Would groups have to give up their annual conventions that year to make this happen? If they hold their conference that year, would the existence of the Unity conference dilute the experience of the first one?

Where would it be held?

When would it be held?

Would it be called an “Atheist convention”? Or a “Humanist convention”? Or a “Unity convention” (which is pretty vague)?

Should the tone be anti-religious or “we just want the same respect religion gets” or something else? Or all of the above?



I’ll be the first to admit there are some easy answers to some of those questions. But some of the questions are tough.

We’ve known about all these issues for quite some time. These weren’t just new issues that were brought up today at the meeting for the first time, but they get to the heart of why some organizations’ leaders (who admit to liking the idea of a Unity convention) are hesitant about signing on to it.

That said, there’s some good news.

A vote was taken on whether we should proceed with the idea of a Unity Convention. The “yes” votes won (by a relatively slim margin).

It was a secret ballot, for what it’s worth. So there’s no calling out one organization or another for “voting the wrong way.”

Here’s what will happen now: A committee will form with the task of coming up with a proposal about how to handle some of these major issues (the money, the multiple convention scenario, etc). They’ll send that proposal to the leaders of the various national organizations. Those groups’ boards will have to decide whether or not to sign on to the proposal.

We’ll go from there.

As for the time frame for all this happening, I don’t know. But I think most of us who support the idea want this all coming together sooner rather than later.

I have to say: This is the third year in a row I’ve heard Margaret Downey talking about this idea. This is the first time we’re making serious progress toward making it happen.

It may not sound like serious progress to you (“That’s all they did? They formed a committee?”) but I assure you it’s a big step. Before the vote was taken, I wasn’t sure that most of the groups would even want to proceed. It was a pleasant surprise to hear the results.

So to all those who like the idea: Remain optimistic. There’s a lot of work for the committee to do, but they all want this to happen and they’ll make decisions that will be in the best interests of the people who would attend and the groups that would be involved. Hopefully, after the committee’s work is done, the national organizations will say they want to be involved.


This is about the way most thought the first meeting regarding this would go, I think. But it is some progress.

Please, please, please - if you belong to any atheist organization, let them know if you support having a 'Unity Convention', whether or not you think you'd actually attend. And then seriously consider attending.

If you don't belong to an atheist organization and you support the idea, please let as many organizations know of your support, whether or not you think you'd actually attend. And then seriously consider attending.

Short emails don't take much time or effort to write and send, and letting them know of your support could go a long way in not only seeing this thing progress further, but in helping to turn out a crowd large enough to make it worth it.

If you're a member of just one organization, please write to all of them. If you're on Facebook, or if you Twit, this can be done as easily as sending an email or snail mail letter.

Even if you're still 'in the closet', please consider making the effort to attend. You can make it a 'vacation', and no one but you has to know where you're really going. What you can get from it personally, and being another 'body' present, could ultimately have significant impact and meaning.

I think the time has come for the old song of, 'Atheists don't herd' to change to a new tune. Things have evolved to the point where, at least politically, it's important for us to make our presence known in a big way.

I know I'm really being the 'cheerleader' on this, but atheists have some work to do, especially in America, and the getting to spend a couple of days with like-minded people can be awesome.
 
Sinny
Hypatia wrote:
catman wrote:
That will be after the next Presidential election.


Right now I believe Margaret Downey is targeting 2013 as the year, but there seem to be many who are asking if it could happen in 2012 since that will be an election year, and the prospect of having a huge non-theist turn out in DC could have a bigger impact on sending the message of just how many American voters are atheist, agnostic, humanist, etc., along with the message that we've had enough of being marginalized and denied a seat at the table - most importantly the political table.


That's a good point I forgot about election time. I like that it's not just for atheists but humanists and agnostics too. I just don't know about it not turning to routy and people getting drunk making everyone look like idiots. If it's going to be political then we have to watch that. Then again even if it's not political we still have to be on best behavior and that's a bit hard for the younger generation if we can college kids involved. It would have to be when it's easier for most people to attend.

We also need to know if it will be family oriented so people can take their children with them for a day. That will look real good to the public and politicians. Also make it clear what exactly we are there for so the media won't have a chance to attack with any justification. Remember there's an e-mail going around saying atheists day is april fools day and we don't want that promoted even though we can take a joke.
 
Hypatia
Sinny wrote:
Hypatia wrote:
catman wrote:
That will be after the next Presidential election.


Right now I believe Margaret Downey is targeting 2013 as the year, but there seem to be many who are asking if it could happen in 2012 since that will be an election year, and the prospect of having a huge non-theist turn out in DC could have a bigger impact on sending the message of just how many American voters are atheist, agnostic, humanist, etc., along with the message that we've had enough of being marginalized and denied a seat at the table - most importantly the political table.


That's a good point I forgot about election time. I like that it's not just for atheists but humanists and agnostics too. I just don't know about it not turning to routy and people getting drunk making everyone look like idiots. If it's going to be political then we have to watch that. Then again even if it's not political we still have to be on best behavior and that's a bit hard for the younger generation if we can college kids involved. It would have to be when it's easier for most people to attend.

We also need to know if it will be family oriented so people can take their children with them for a day. That will look real good to the public and politicians. Also make it clear what exactly we are there for so the media won't have a chance to attack with any justification. Remember there's an e-mail going around saying atheists day is april fools day and we don't want that promoted even though we can take a joke.


Mostly it's adults that attend these things, though some do take their kids along. There's no more concern that people will get out of line than with any other kind of gathering, and organizers of these events do take into consideration the fact that there will be kids of various ages in attendance. If there's a point in the program where there might be some kind of 'adult only' oriented material they're good about letting parents know they'll need to use their discretion about whether they allow their kids to remain in the audience for that segment, and there usually isn't much, if any, content like that. The atheist groups generally encourage the attendance of kids, they want these things to be something families can attend together, so naturally they're conscience of the content of their programs.

These groups have been doing their national conventions for a long time and are accustomed to the kinds of attendees they get and how to handle situations.

I attended the Godless American's March on Washington (GAMOW) in 2002. There were over 2000 attendees there and I wasn't aware of any rowdiness or public drunkenness by any of the participants. There were quite a number of children, of all ages, present and none of the content during the entire three days was anything that wouldn't be suitable for a crowd of all ages.

I think if there were a few that did something that could be viewed as out of hand it would be just that - a very few, and while no one wants a bad light shown on a group event like that, a few wouldn't be enough to make it look any worse than any other kind of group event where something like that might happen.
 
catman
Unfortunately, Sinny, a few people behaving badly would matter more at such a gathering than at most, since it will be under the religious microscope which will be studiously looking for anything to defame the gathering. I can see the comment now: 'Just see how those godless heathens behave, and allow their children to run wild!' We'll need to be on our very best behavior not to give them any ammunition. It isn't 'fair', but what else is new?
Edited by catman on 01/11/2010 15:07
 
Sinny
I hope you're right Patia because what Catman just said is exactly what I am thinking. We must all be on our best behavior. I am thinking mostly of college kids on break and we know how much they like to drink when out of School LOL. Theists normally complain about that and for the most part I must admit I don't like it when they go way overboard to the point where it's dangerous but we had our time Smile

We will be under the religious microscope that is a given. It's bad enough people confuse us with satanists and even think we worship the devil or do the devils work why give them reason to make the accusation and then justify it. I won't worry I'm sure the people in charge of putting it all together will know to get the message out be on your best behavior. I'm not sure if I would go but I like the idea of having this. Although anyone who's' in the atheist, agnostic, humanist closet could say they were there supporting friends and/or relatives.
Edited by Sinny on 01/11/2010 19:00
 
Hypatia
Seems like we atheists, any non-theists really, are always kind of under the microscope. But yes, with these kinds of gatherings it is even more so.

 
Doubting Thomas
Yes, Catman, it's just like how at the gay pride parades the news cameras focus on the most outrageous behavior and the most shockingly dressed. I've never been to a gay pride parade, but I'm guessing the majority of people are fairly well behaved and attired normally, but every time you see it in the news it's always the guy in a woman's wig kissing the guy dressed in leather and assless chaps.
You're just jealous because the voices are talking to me and not you.
 
catman
Exactly, DT! The über-Christians will doubtless find pleanty to complain about, even if the 'unity' conventioneers are perfectly attired and behaved. It amazes me how the majority sheeple can be so threatened by anyone whose views differ.
Edited by catman on 01/12/2010 15:30
 
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