Could we hold the ultimate atheist conference?!
Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, best known for having sold his soul on eBay, has opened discussion on the topic of having a MAJOR atheist/nontheist/secularist/humanist/freethinker conference in 2010. The conference would bring people from across the continent together to meet, network, exchange ideas, establish new directions and concerns for secular activism, and show Washington, the nation, and the world how many nontheists there are in the US (with a few from places like Canada, too) and that they are going to continue to stand up for church-state separation, the status of nonbelievers, science, and reason.
I REALLY like this idea. The idea, essentially, is for major secular organizations (e.g., Center For Inquiry, Secular Students Alliance, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Secular Coalition for America, American Atheists, American Atheist Alliance, Rational Response Squad, etc.—I would also had the Freethought Association of Canada and the Humanist Association of Canada) as well as smaller ones to come together to co-run a mega conference. This could be HUGE. If all of these organizations cooperated to put on a big conference, say in Washington DC, many thousands of people would definitely go. Given the unprecedented amount of major media coverage that atheism is receiving and the abundance of secularist/nontheist/atheist/skeptic/humanist/freethinker blogs that are tearing up the information super highway, this event would receive extensive coverage at all levels of media.
I can see it now. Thousands and thousands and thousands of people marching on Washington; every known major secularist and atheist personality in attendance (e.g., Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, the beautiful Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Victor Stenger, Ibn Warraq, Paul Kurtz, Ellen Johnson, Dan Barker, PZ Myers, Michael Shermer, Barbara Forrest, Greg Epstein, Hemant Mehta, Bobby Henderson), people from the entertainment industry (e.g., George Carlin, David Usher, Tool, Phillip Pullman, Bill Maher, Lewis Black, Julia Sweeney, Greydon Square, Kathy Griffin, Jodie Foster, David Cronenberg, Pat Condell, David Cross), secular members of religious communities like Christopher Hedges, Tarek Fatah, and Farzana Hassan, and the few politicians and media figures that are admitedly nontheistic, or at minimum are strongly in favour of church-state separation, reason, and the understanding of nontheism.
An impact anywhere near the type of magnitude that this event could reach would certainly leave a lasting impact. And what a great way to bring nontheists and secularists from across the continent together. I attended at CFI conference at the headquarters in Amherst, NY this past summer, and it was great. The type of mega-conference being discussed here and by Hemant would take secular/nontheist activism to unprecedented heights!