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.