By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Historically, the people of Alabama: Black, White, Republican, or Democrat have acknowledged God and have overwhelming thought of themselves as ‘Christians.’ That could change…..or at least that is the plan of a group who is holding their convention in Montgomery on Saturday.
The Alabama Freethought Convention says on Facebook that it is, “a statewide event for Freethinkers, Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists, and others concerned with separation of religion and government, human rights, and fact-based education. “
According to their announcement, “If you are trying to advance the cause and grow your local group you need to get to the Alabama Freethought Convention Saturday. You will have the opportunity to meet other group leaders at the local level and representatives of national groups including American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Atheist Alliance of America, and the Secular Coalition for America. Come to Montgomery for the day and take full advantage of this opportunity to meet you fellow leaders.” The event is being sponsored by the Secular Coalition for Alabama.
The speakers scheduled at the event include the Outreach Director for the American Atheists Blair Scott, the publishers of the JesusFetusFajitaFishsticks blog Mary & Robert Posey, the President of the American Humanist Association David Niose, Jamila Bey, Jon Smith, Chuck Miller, and the creator of the Atheist Nexus “Brother Richard” Haynes.
“Brother Richard” said on Facebook, “I am a former fundamentalist minister who has seen the light of science and reason. I find inspiration in music, art, literature and our awe inspiring universe. I believe the next step in humanity’s evolution is breaking the shackles of religious superstition. I am secularly ordained and have dedicated myself to encouraging and inspiring others to “come out” of the religious closet.”
The event includes: an overview of pertinent legislation the groups supports or opposes, “Debaptism Ceremonies”, a discussion panel on Secular Parenting, a discussion panel about secular teens, and entertainment by singer Shelley Segal. Representatives of national groups including the American Atheists, the American Humanist Association, the Atheist Alliance of America, and the Secular Coalition for America will be there to collaborate and recruit new members.
The event is being held at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center at 300 Tallapoosa Street in Montgomery. Advance tickets cost $40. Tickets at the door will cost $50. Student tickets are available at a discounted price of $30. There is free admission for children 12 and under, and complimentary day care with activities is being provided
According to a recently released study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, during the last five years, those who say they are unaffiliated with any religions have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all American adults. This includes more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public). It also includes nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14% of the U.S. public). These are the highest numbers ever in American history. The number of Americans who consider themselves a member of one of the many Protestant denominations has plummeted to just 48% (this is the first time ever that this group is not the majority of Americans. In 1972 62% of Americans were Protestants. This has dropped to just 48% today. The number of Catholics has dropped from 26% of the population in 1972 to 25% today.
According to Pew this has enormous political ramifications. 24% of Democrats or likely Democratic voters are unaffiliated religiously, 13% are Black Protestants, 14% consider are White mainline Protestants, 9% are White evangelical Protestants, 13% are White Catholics, 5% are Hispanic Catholics, and 18% are other. The fast growing unaffiliated group is now the largest subset within the Democratic Party’s voter base.