Atheists, skeptics, humanists, church-and-state separatists and others punching cards for one-way trips to H-E-DOUBLE-MATCHSTICKS gather in Irvine this the Lord's Day to get their godless freak on.
Sunday's second annual Freethought Alliance Conference at the Hilton Irvine presents 11 secular speakers aimed at helping a large chunk of your friends and neighbors cope.
These are the more than 15 percent of Americans who check “none” when asked their religious affiliation.
The Freethought Alliance is a coalition of 13 separate secular groups. Its mission: “To offer a place for people of non-belief to gather, discuss cultural and political issues and to improve the quality of life for the non-religious. To promote dialogue between the religious and non-religious and to gain understanding between the two.”
The Orange County Coalition for Reason recently unveiled a billboard proclaiming, “Don't Believe in God? You Are Not Alone” at Beach Boulevard and 19th Street in Westminster. While many believers find this distasteful, most agree that if, say, the Harvest Crusade can advertise on billboards, non-believers should be able to also.
But one thing these folks don't have in common with those who honor deities is a place to gather with others who think the same way they do. That's the point of the annual conference. Speakers are:
- Brian Dalton, whose Mr. Deity web shorts play regularly on YouTube.
- Sean Faircloth, director for the Secular Coalition, “which promotes reason and science in government.”
- Brian Dunning, host of the podcast for skeptics Skeptoid.
- Jim Underdown, director of Center For Inquiry in Los Angeles.
- Rebecca Watson, one of the five members of The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe podcast said to have more than 80,000 listeners a week worldwide.
- Eugenie Scott, a physical anthropologist, National Center for Science Education executive director and leading critic of young earth creationism and intelligent design.
- Victor Stenger, publisher of nine books on physics, quantum mechanics, cosmology, philosophy, religion, atheism, and pseudoscience.
- Sadie Crabtree, media advisor to the Florida-based James Randi Educational Foundation, whose mission is to educate the public and media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims, and to support research into paranormal claims in controlled scientific experimental conditions.
Saturday, the day before the conference, participants plan to tour the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena during the day and party at Muldoon's pub in Newport Beach that night.
The conference is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday at the Hilton, 18800 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine. Admission is $89 if you reserve a seat before Sunday, $99 the day of the event and $25 for students. There are also deals on meals, lodging and parking. For more details, visit freethoughtalliance.org.