2018 Global Atheist Convention that was cancelled

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Salman Rushdie was scheduled to be a speaker at the 2018 Global Atheist Convention. On November 6, 2017, atheist PZ Myers announced the 2018 Global Atheist Convention was cancelled.[1][2]

The 2018 Global Atheist Convention that was cancelled was billed as the third Global Atheist Convention and its theme was "Reason to Hope".[3][4] It was sponsored by the Atheist Foundation of Australia.[5] See also: Irreligion in Australia

Robert Martin from Melbourne’s City Bible Forum indicated about the cancellation of the 2018 Global Atheist Convention: "This is a massive blow to the Atheist Foundation as an organisation and to organised atheism in Australia. Where to next? What do they stand for?”[6] According to Martin, fragmentation within today's atheist movement in Australia is a key reason that the convention may have been difficult to sell (see also: Atheist factions).[7]

A very sizable portion of the alt-right movement is made up of atheists. agnostics, and the non-religious (See: Atheism and the alt-right). The alt-right is influencing Australia politics.[8] The growth of right-wing/alt-right atheism is creating divisions/infighting among atheists in the Western World due to political polarization (see: Western atheism, schisms and political polarization).

The 2018 Global Atheist Convention was to be held from 9–11 February 2018, at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia.[9] The sponsor of the convention is the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA).[10]

Some of the atheist speakers that were scheduled were: Sir Salman Rushdie, Greta Christina, Aron Ra, Anne Laurie Gaynor (co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation), Dan Barker, Sikivu Hutchinson, Maryam Namazie (Iranian secularist and communist) and Clementine Ford (actress and feminist author/commentator)[11]

The first two global atheist conventions were in 2010 and 2012 and also held in Melbourne[12] The Atheist Foundation of Australia and Atheist Alliance International were the sponsors of the 2010 and 2012 global atheist conventions.

Cancelled 2018 Global Atheist Convention controversy about women speakers

See also: Atheism and women and Atheist feminism and Sexual harassment at atheist conferences and Atheism and rape

After the actress and feminist author/commentator Clementine Ford was picked as a speaker as part of creating gender parity in atheist speakers to the 2018 Global Atheist Convention, it was reported that a substantial number of rape and death threats occurred on a Facebook page promoting the convention.[13]

Andrew Street wrote in The Sydney Morning Herald about the 2018 Global Atheist Convention:

Thus in recent times there has been a concerted, deliberate effort to overcome the not-inaccurate perception that atheism is exclusively a boys' club. And there has been predictable pushback from members of said community who are deeply concerned that this progressive attitude may yet expose them to dangerous levels of girl germs.

The latest example came on Tuesday when the upcoming Atheist Global Convention in Melbourne announced that feminist author and commentator Clementine Ford would be one of the speakers.

Predictably, this made a few people unhappy - but the venom levelled at Ford and the conference generally for daring to have a line up of speakers which approached gender parity was a shock.

And that's despite the moderators on the Facebook page making clear that "we have been deleting specific rape and death threats as they occur… there have been substantial numbers", just in case there was any doubt about the calibre of awesome dudes weighing in with their important opinions about the line up.[14]

The atheist Adam Lee wrote about Clementine Ford and the online hostility about her being a speaker at the 2018 Global Atheist Convention:

Even so, the sheer number of comments that had to be deleted for extreme rudeness, slurs, misogyny or outright threats of violence is a depressing commentary on how unenlightened the atheist community is.[15]

Reason to hope theme

See also: Atheism and death and Hopelessness of atheism and Atheism, agnosticism and pessimism and Atheism and inspiration

The Atheist Foundation of Australia released in a press release:

Hosted by the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA) the Convention’s theme is Reason to Hope.

“There is reason to hope,” AFA President Kylie Sturgess says, “in a gathering such as this that welcomes all audiences. At past conventions we’ve had people from a broad range of backgrounds and seen committed atheists engaging with religious-but-curious types on issues that matter to all of us.

Is a humanist, skeptical, secular approach our best hope for the future? Increasing numbers of Australians think so and this event is about finding a place for the godless in contemporary Australia and the world.”[16]

The Atheist Forum website wrote about the cancelled 2018 Global Atheist Convention's theme of "Reason to hope":

The title is intriguing: reason to hope. I’m not entirely sure what atheists have to share about hope, because ultimately atheism is a hopeless philosophy i.e. there is no individual, personal hope beyond my death. This is obviously a moot point because many atheists do claim to have hope (and this convention will obviously deal with that topic). So I am intrigued as to exactly what is the ‘hope’ spoken of here.[17]

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