Cranford, NJ—On Tuesday, American Atheists announced the opening of online registration and early bird pricing for its 2015 National Convention to be held in Memphis, Tennessee, at the Peabody Hotel, April 2-5. The group also announced two new speakers: Bangladeshi atheist blogger Asif Mohiuddin and Lucien Greaves of The Satanic Temple. The keynote speaker, announced in late July, will be the ex-Muslim and women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
“Two ex-Muslims and a Satanist walk into an atheist convention,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “It sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s coming true next Easter weekend in the South—an area of the country where atheists are under great pressure to conform to religious traditions that don’t apply to them. We expect more than 1,000 atheists to gather to be part of a celebration of rational thought.”
The group plans to reveal 20 more speakers in the coming weeks, and the convention will also feature a “Cards Against Humanity” charity tournament, a costume party and dinner, an art show, a comedy show, a bookstore, a game room, a trivia party with free food, “Dinner with the Stars,” a movie screening, panel discussions, workshops, and an exhibitor and vendor room.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born ex-Muslim atheist and victim of ritual female genital mutilation, escaped an arranged marriage and later became a member of Parliament in the Netherlands. Today she is a U.S. citizen, a Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and an outspoken activist against religious abuses, particularly those of Islam. On Monday, September 15, Hirsi Ali spoke at Yale University, where she faced criticism from the Yale Muslim Students Association (MSA) and other student organizations because of her criticism of Islam.
Asif Mohiuddin, a 30-year-old activist, is from Bangladesh, which is home to about one-tenth of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims. He is one of the most widely read Bengali-language atheist bloggers worldwide and in 2013, he was attacked and stabbed by three men for his activism. He was later arrested for insulting Islam online, a crime in Bangladesh. Following his arrest, riots broke out in the capital city of Dhaka, with Muslim extremists calling for his execution and a restoration of the country’s blasphemy laws as a capital crime, threatening to use “suicide squads” if their demands were not met. In the U.S., American Atheists organized rallies in New York City at the Consulate General of Bangladesh and the UN calling for his immediate release. Mohiuddin is currently free on bail and living in Germany, but the charges against him are still pending, and he speaks out against religion at great personal risk.
Lucien Greaves, co-founder and spokesperson of The Satanic Temple, will speak about non-theistic Satanism, separation of church and state, and the Temple’s widely publicized recent push to place a crowdfunded 7-foot cast bronze statue of the goat-headed idol Baphomet at the Oklahoma Capitol. The statue, if approved, will sit alongside a monument of the Ten Commandments placed there in November 2012.
Attendees may register for the convention at early bird pricing at https://atheists.org/
American Atheists is soliciting sponsors for various events at its 2015 convention. To learn about sponsorship or to exhibit or table as a vendor, register at https://atheists.org/
For a schedule of the convention, subject to change, visit http://atheists.org/
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.
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