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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

'Godless conference coming to Little Rock'

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 9:53 AM

REMEMBER THE BUS ADS CONTROVERSY?: Sponsoring group is among organizers of coming gathering of atheists, agnostics, humanists.
  • REMEMBER THE BUS ADS CONTROVERSY?: Sponsor of bus ads is among organizers of coming gathering of atheists, agnostics, humanists.

My headline is that written for a news release for an event Oct. 27 in Little Rock being billed as "Reason in the Rock."

Atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other secular people from all over Arkansas will gather from 9 to 5:30 p.m. at the Darragh Center of the downtown library.

"There are more nonreligious people in Arkansas than many might think," said Susan Heffington, president of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers. "Many of us feel strongly about separation of church and state and want to be sure that a loud contingent of religious advocates does not drown out other voices. We all bring something significant to the table."

Full release follows:

Atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other secular people from all over Arkansas are traveling to Little Rock for the inaugural Reason in the Rock conference. The one-day event will be held Saturday, October 27, from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM in the Darragh Center Auditorium of the Central Arkansas Library, 100 Rock Street, in the River Market District of downtown Little Rock.

Speakers will be from Arkansas and adjoining states as well as from Ohio, New Jersey and North Carolina, and will represent varied aspects of the secular movement. The primary sponsors of the event are the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers and the Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason. Funding has been provided by the national United Coalition of Reason and the James Randi Educational Foundation. Other organizations supporting the event are American Atheists, Camp Quest Oklahoma, the Secular Student Alliance, and Recovering from Religion.

"There are more nonreligious people in Arkansas than many might think," said Susan Heffington, president of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers. "Many of us feel strongly about separation of church and state and want to be sure that a loud contingent of religious advocates does not drown out other voices. We all bring something significant to the table."

"This event will bring people together in an important way," added co-organizer Anne Orsi. "People without religious belief often feel isolated and marginalized. Sometimes we don't know that our neighbors share our nonbelief because talking about it is practically taboo. Conferences like Reason in the Rock let nonreligious people know that they aren't alone."

At Reason in the Rock, the Randall "Doc" Fleck Common Sense Plus Award will be initiated and presented by the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers to the family of Dr. Fleck. Dr. Fleck died this year after a long illness. He was one of the primary activists in the Arkansas secular movement and was instrumental in organizing a number of the secular movement's groups around the state. This included the Northwest Arkansas Coalition of Reason in Fayetteville.

The speaker lineup will consist of the following:

- Seth Andrews (keynote speaker), an Oklahoma resident who produces the Thinking Atheist podcast and YouTube channel

- Jerry DeWitt, a former Pentecostal minister who is now president of Recovering From Religion

- Teresa MacBain, a former Methodist minister who is now public relations director for American Atheists

- Mike Thom, the Arkansas state chapter leader for the National Atheist Party

- Tod Billings, founder of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers

- J. T. Eberhard, an Arkansas native and freethought blogger now with the Secular Student Alliance headquartered in Ohio

- Lauren Lane, co-founder of Skepticon in Missouri and guest blogger on The Friendly Atheist

- Aron Ra, vlogger and Texas state director for American Atheists

- Cindy Cooper from Camp Quest Oklahoma, the summer camp for freethinking children and teens

The conference is free and open to the public but there is limited seating. All interested in attending need to register on the conference's website at ReasonInTheRock.org where they will find links to nearby lodging and opportunities to donate.


The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers is an Arkansas nonprofit corporation that promotes a secular, non-theistic, humanist viewpoint as a valid contribution to public discourse, advocates the strict separation of church and state, and hosts weekly events geared to encourage and facilitate dialogue in matters of science, reason, critical thinking, and tolerance.

The Central Arkansas Coalition of Reason seeks to raise public awareness that people can be good without believing in a god. Central Arkansas CoR brings together ten humanistic, secular, and nontheistic organizations in the Central Arkansas region.

The United Coalition of Reason is made up of 57 local coalitions nationwide and works to raise the visibility and sense of unity among non-theistic groups. Its website is UnitedCoR.org

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