Here’s What The Annual Secularists’ Convention Has Planned

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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Five Democratic lawmakers are set to speak at a large annual conference for secularists and nontheists which begins Wednesday in Washington D.C.

The keynote speaker for the Secular Coalition for America’s annual Lobby Day and Secular Summit will be Rhode Island U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat; the convention also includes a screening of a documentary critical of African American churches.

Through the “lobby day,” attendees will “visit en masse many Congressional offices in one day in order to show their strength, commitment and voting concerns,” according to the coalition’s website.

Other events include a panel titled “Supporting Science In Lawmaking,” which will address “climate change deniers” and other groups who “refuse to accept science we all know to be true.”

The coalition also promotes its conference as a way for secularists and nontheists to learn to shape public policy, meet lawmakers and “party with open bar at the hottest rooftop pool in the city.”

While the listed cost of attending the event is $99, admission is free to students, minorities, women and members of the gay and lesbian community, according to the site.

Other lawmakers speaking at the event include Democratic U.S. Reps. Rush Holt, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren and Robert Scott, who will speak after Whitehouse’s keynote on Thursday.

Later that evening, participants will screen a film titled “Contradiction,” a documentary that “explores the black community’s dedication and commitment to the church and religion.”

“Despite this respectful approach, there is no doubt that many viewers will feel the discomfort of cognitive dissonance [with the black church],” reads the documentary’s website.

The film “creates a historical and cultural context, which forces us to confront many nonsensical aspects about our beliefs while challenging our assumptions and fostering a long overdue dialogue about faith.”

Iowa U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin and New York U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler attended last year’s event.

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