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Atheist Leader, Scholar to Tackle Religion’s Place in Puerto Rico During Debate

San Juan, PR—American Atheists today announced a public discussion in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a religious scholar and its president the day before the organization hosts the first atheist conference on the island. The forum, which is free and open to the public and media, will be held at noon on Thursday, August 20, at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel.

The panel discussion will feature Professor Luis Rivera-Pagán, a professor emeritus of the Princeton Theological Seminary and Puerto Rico native and David Silverman, president of American Atheists.

“There is huge stigma surrounding atheism here in Puerto Rico,” said Silverman. “Bringing our convention to Puerto Rico is just one step we’re taking to break down the stigma and show just how diverse our community is.”

The panel will discuss areas of disagreement about the issue of religion in public life with a focus on the challenges facing Puerto Rico, where nearly 60% of the population identifies as Roman Catholic and almost 90% of people are Christians.

“When we hear reports of police pulling over motorists to preach at them, obviously that is a cause for concern,” added Silverman. “People of all faiths, and none, must be recognized as full members of the community. There is a lot of work to do and this discussion is just the beginning.”

The American Atheists regional convention will be held Friday and Saturday, August 21-22, at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino in San Juan, and will feature more than a dozen speakers including Matt Dillahunty, scholar Dr. Richard Carrier, poet and author Yolanda Arroyo Pizarro, civil rights attorney Mariana Nogales, and atheist activist Eva Quiñones. Tickets for the convention are available at the door for $79.