First Ever 'Godless' Conference in Colo.
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- Nonreligious people from all over the country traveled to Grand Junction Saturday for the inaugural Colorado Secular Conference. The event was organized by Humanists Doing Good.
Over 120 people gathered at Colorado Mesa University for the event.
Founder of Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers, Anne Landman, said, “Huge milestone, something that just hasn’t happened in Colorado before. It’s here, its 21st century and we’re doing it.”
Co-director of the Colorado Secular Coalition, Murray Wallace, said, “It’s not about removing religion or supporting one specific ideology. It’s about allowing every ideology to be prevalent.”
Speakers from various organizations talked about what they hope to achieve in the future.
Kathleen Hynes, a volunteer speaker with the ACLU, said, “We always appreciate an opportunity to speak to people about their civil rights and their civil liberties.”
Research and advocacy manager for the Secular Coalition of America, Kelly Damerow, said, “While we’re working in D.C. to fight religious privileging on a federal level, we’re really noticing that the most egregious violations of church and state are happening on the state level.”
Michael Werner with the United Coalition of Reason said, “I’m from Wilmington, North Carolina. There we have the city council, as I may understand you have here, still doing sectarian prayers. That’s just not playing fair.”
Local leaders within the secular community say prayer before public meetings is an issue they're tackling, too
Landman said, “It’s completely illegal and we’ve raised that point with the County Commissioners just as we raised it with the city. The two entities acted completely differently."
Landman says that only the city really acknowledged they were violating the constitution.
“The County Commissioners instead dug in and worked to find a way to keep prayer ... simply by gaveling the meeting to start immediately after the prayer.”
Despite these conflicts, organizers say there’s an important message they are trying to send.
Velvet Johnson, the volunteer coordinator for Humanists Doing Good, said, “To work with the religious and the nonreligious to bring everyone together to make Mesa County a better place to live.”
Benjamin Donahue with the Colorado Secular Coalition said, “Secularism is not anti-religion. It is recognition that the government should not be taking sides in religious disputes."
They hope this conference and ones in the future will unite people, no matter what they do or do not believe in.