Well, Bellevue, anyway. Close enough.
I want to thank you, my darlings. I have no idea how many of you made it – I only ran in to one of you (hello!), but the crowd was astounding. I got there just after two, and atheists had filled a very large high school. We can haz horde! Next time there’s an event like this, I’m going to have to have t-shirts or something so we can find each other. Who wants to design an ETEV viking ship logo?
The reason I’d like to do this is because while it’s awesome to see folks like Cornwell and Dawkins and Faircloth, it’s far more awesome meeting you. I love my readers. I love seeing my readers. I love hearing you talk about yourselves (not me, please, I talk about me enough). So I just want to put that up front: I can’t wait to meet more of you.
And I’m thrilled we packed that gym with atheists. Lots of diverse atheists: younger, older, men and women, transgender and cis, LGBQ and straight, and it wasn’t a sea of lily white. The faces in that crowd could trace their ancestry all over the world. Greta’s right: we’re making progress.
I also got to preach the good news of the Kindle Fire to a very wonderful couple. Hee.
So, those of you who weren’t there probably want to know what went on. You’ll know all about it soon enough – the whole event was recorded. I’ll post it here when it’s live. For now, we’ll do some photos and highlights.
Jerry DeWitt opened. He was a Pentecostal preacher until a few months ago, and Daniel was right – he’s great at turning that rhetorical skill to good use for atheism. Seattle-area atheists seemed a bit taken aback by the idea of shouting “Amen!” at things, but certainly enjoyed the Southern-style revival rhythm. Also, he’s got a fine sense of humor, and I hope I get to see him again when he’s the headliner. Book! Book! Book! I’d like to see him waving his own books around someday. But he waved around other peoples’ books, and talked about being in darkness until he found the Clergy Project and made it out.
Elisabeth Cornwell certainly earned my respect. She’s the driving force behind the Out Campaign, which now has reached Afghanistan. She’s executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation, had a major hand in getting the Clergy Project going and continuing, and we probably didn’t have time to go in to everything else she does. She talked about the Clergy Project, and introduced us to Teresa MacBain, who just came out as an atheist a few days ago.
She told us the RDF is about to launch a new website, with many new features, one of which will allow local and national groups to announce their events. And she told us that the president of Campus Crusade for Christ said that the internet is one of the most dangerous things facing Christianity today. Elisabeth said, “I want to make sure that we make that statement true. Expand the movement!”
There are many excellent reasons for expanding the movement. That one’s the very tasty icing. Hee.
Sean Faircloth, Director of Strategy and Policy for RDF, spoke out about the outrages that result from laws that allow religious daycares and parents avoid the laws that secular daycares and parents must follow. He has a good term for faith-healing: “faith-harming.” He went through his 10 Point Vision of a Secular America, and talked about how important it is that we get involved in the political process. I hadn’t known this, but my home state of Arizona, red state extraordinaire, has a lobbyist for secular values. If they can, we can.
He’s also a lot of fun.
Richard Dawkins gave an excellent talk on “intelligent design.” He made the case for intelligently designing our morals, and our future.
There was a banner hanging in the auditorium, which I doubt had been put up for us but seemed appropriate anyway:
“We’re taking over,” it said. Richard pointed it out.
We’re growing in numbers. We’re finding our voices. We’re uniting with others who believe that the secular principles this country was founded on are vital for its continued existence. And we can make the world a better place.
Right here. Right now. Let’s get started.