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Atheists & Mormons Go Head-to-Head in Public Panel

Faceb00k Event is here.

Update: We have made arrangements for an American Sign Language interpreter to be available at the panel.
Update 2: We have made arrangements for the panel to be filmed. We are working on the possibility of a live-stream as well.

Salt Lake City, UT—The national nonprofit American Atheists will host a panel discussion with two Mormon professors and two atheist experts on Wednesday, April 16 at 7:00 pm at the Salt Lake City Public Library’s Nancy Tessman Auditorium. The public is invited to this free event.

The panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Paul Reeve of the University of Utah, will address public perceptions of atheists and Mormons. The panelists will tackle common stereotypes of both groups, dispel myths, and answer audience questions. The panel is a “warm-up” event for the American Atheists National Convention, which is kicking off the next day (April 17) at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center.


The panel comprises renowned leaders in the public perception of atheists and Mormons. Dr. J.B. Haws, author of The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception, and Dr. Richard Holzapfel, prolific author and expert on Latter-Day Saints Church history, will represent Mormon beliefs. Both Haws and Holzapfel are professors at Brigham Young University.


The atheist panelists are American Atheists President David Silverman and Joanne Hanks, author of “It’s Not About the Sex” My Ass: Confessions of an Ex-Mormon Ex-Polygamist Ex-Wife. A book-signing with Professor Haws and Ms. Hanks will follow the Q&A at the close of the panel discussion.


“We are challenging how atheists and religious people think of each other,” said Silverman. “It’s true that many atheist Utahns are ex-Mormons, but many atheists around the country have very little direct experience with Mormons. And many Mormons have very little real-world experience with or knowledge of atheists and how atheism approaches questions of morals, meaning, happiness, and much more. We want to fix that because a better understanding of where we’re all coming from is needed to share political and social space. We’re happy to hear that both sides want to close that gap and are willing to take part in doing so, and we invite the people of Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Front to join us.”


Anyone attending the panel or booksigning will also be able to register for the American Atheists National Convention for one-day passes and full convention tickets. The four-day convention runs from Thursday, April 17 to Sunday, April 20 at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center.


The convention will feature such speakers as former NFL punter Chris Kluwe, Survivor®: Philippines winner Denise Stapley, Grammy-nominated Spin Doctors bass player Mark White, Academy Award-nominated director of The Simpsons Movie and Monsters, Inc David A. Silverman, NASA and SETI-renowned astrobiologist Dr. David Morrison, Maryam Namazie of the Council of Ex-Muslims, 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, and national and local exhibitors. The convention takes place the weekend of April 17-20, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah.


The main branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library is located at 210 East 400 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111. The phone number is (801) 524-8200. The event is in the Nancy Tessman Auditorium (capacity 300) and the speakers will be available from 6:00 to 6:45 for press interviews. The event runs from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM and a book-signing will follow until 9:00 PM.


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2014 National Convention Promo Video:


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.