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Started by Whitney, June 13, 2010, 08:20:46 PM
QuoteIrving to host Texas Freethought Convention this weekend07:08 AM CDT on Friday, October 8, 2010By SAM HODGES / The Dallas Morning Newshttp://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent ... 363a7.html
QuoteAtheist Convention Not Skeptic About GrowthReportingJay GormleyIRVING (CBS 11 / TXA 21) â€•It's not your typical convention. Then again, those in attendance do not follow conventional beliefs.Nearly 300 atheists, agnostics and skeptics from around the state have converged on the Sheraton in Irving for the annual Texas Freethought Convention."A lot of people are coming out to this convention and didn't know this guy lived next door to me or that I work with this person and didn't know he's agnostic and that I'm an atheist. People feel a little better when they realize they're not alone."Paul Mitchell is the Texas Freethought Convention president "Little by little, there's a paradigm shift with society that is allowing for people to come out more and more."This is the third year for the convention, and it's growing in size. And according to the American Religious Identification Survey of 2008, skepticism is also growing. 15% of Americans surveyed said they had no religious affiliation. That's up from 8% in 1990.Despite the fact that this is the third time that the convention has been held in a state that many consider to be very religious, the president of the convention says that Texas has always been welcoming and that they have never received any serious threats.But Alix Jules of Allen says he still encounters intolerance. "It was very much so in the African American community, because it is so very much taboo. Minorities in general tend to be significantly more religious."In years past, atheists and agnostics have chosen to fly under the radar. Today however, they are more outspoken than ever. From posting billboards in North Texas and around the country to sponsoring camps for kids, including Camp Quest just east of McKinney."I don't regard atheism or encroaching atheism as a threat to Christianity'" says Dallas Theological Seminary Professor Reg Grant. "Christianity has withstood atheism ever since its inception."Grant believes skepticism is on the rise, because of what he calls a 'spiritual malaise.'"There has been a gradual declension, a gradual pulling away from the standards and authority of scripture. Once you abandon that standard, then anything is up for grabs."Scandals in the church have also chased away many followers; making it harder to determine if some are simply fed up with religion or if they truly no longer believe.