Monday, April 27, 2015

Media Covers Psychic Fair But Ignores Secular Conference Honoring a Veteran in North Carolina

Last Sunday 118 people attended a psychic fair in Raleigh, and the News & Observer was on the scene to cover it. But on the other end of the state, in Hickory, one of the largest secular conferences ever held in the Carolinas was ending without a peep from the local (or national) press. Perhaps that's a good thing. Many of us long for the day when it's no longer news for hundreds of atheists, agnostics, skeptics, or secular humanists to gather for a conference in the Bible Belt. Still, I think there were a few news items worth mentioning about ReasonCon 2015.

The conference opened Friday night with a VIP dinner featuring Sarah Morehead, Executive Director of Recovering From Religion. Sarah talked about the Hotline Project and shared some heart breaking transcripts from callers struggling with their doubt or leaving their religion.

On Saturday the 287 official conference attendees listened to talks by a number of popular atheist authors and podcasters, including an "atheist feminist secular humanist" ex-Muslim currently writing a book titled A Skeptic's Guide to Islam.

But the most local news-worthy item was the "Champion of Reason" award that the conference hosts - the Hickory Humanist Alliance - gave to a brave local veteran of the Afghanistan war...

I would like to thank the Hickory Humanist Alliance for Honoring me with the Champion of ReAson at this years ReAsonCon....
Posted by Steven Hewett on Sunday, April 26, 2015

In addition to being a decorated war hero, Steven is also a local First Amendment hero in a long, sad national tradition stretching from "that awful woman" to an "evil little thing." In January, the King, NC City Council settled a case with Steven by removing a cross and Christian flag from their Veteran's Memorial. Tonight Steven is petitioning the Stokes County Commission to let him put an "In Reason We Trust" motto on the county courthouse alongside a privately funded "In God We Trust" motto that was just approved (unanimously) by the commissioners. (Update: The commissioners will vote of Steven's request on May 11).

I salute Steven for challenging our local government officials to follow the constitution - at great personal risk to himself and his family. From Vashti McCollum's lynched cat to police escorts for Jessica Ahlquist to go to high school, when will majority "Christian" communities stop punishing people like Steven who point out that their local government officials are not following the law?

"Our constitution mentions religion just twice. And both times the word 'no' is attached." 
- Ellery Schempp
Here's some more of the social media coverage for #ReasonCon2015...

Full disclaimer: I am a founding member (but not an officer) of the Hickory Humanist Alliance and co-founder of the Metrolina Chapter of Recovering From Religion.

The Hotline Project

1 comment:

  1. Kudos to the Stokes News for breaking the media silence on this event/award.