Atheist summits aim to find community, and power, in networking nonbelievers

In early March, more than 30 atheist, humanist and secular leaders gathered at a residence overlooking Southern Californian vineyards to discuss politics, social issues and how to draw in more people at a first-ever SoCal Secular Leadership Summit.

The event was the first of three summits planned by Secular Coalition for America, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. Later this month, similar gatherings will be held in Greenville, S.C., and Nashville, Tenn. Like Temecula, Greenville is outside of an urban hub, and all three cities’ event atmospheres are more seminar than corporate convention. The organizers of the summit wanted their attendees to be able to see each other.

Sarah Levin, director of grass roots and community programs at Secular Coalition for America, said that her organization recently found that nonbelievers felt well-connected to national secular organizations but disconnected from others like them locally.

“We realized we need to help strengthen these networks of local groups so that they can be mobilized for political advocacy,” Levin said.

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