A new coalition of atheists, humanists and freethinkers in Connecticut will have its first statewide convention Saturday at the University of New Haven.
The conference, called the Secular Assembly for the North East, or SANE, is part of the first big public push by the group to reach out to like-minded thinkers in the state, said Dan Blinn, coalition coordinator in the state.
As part of that push, the group this week launched a billboard campaign. Two digital billboards — one visible from I-91 South in Hartford, one from I-91 South in New Haven — proclaim: “Are you good without God? You aren’t alone. ConnecticutCoR.org”
“It really is our intention to reach out to similarly minded people … we don’t attack any religion. We’re not trying to convert anybody,” Blinn said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“Religious people are free to express their beliefs, and we see no reason why we should not have the same freedom,” he said. “We’ re not trying to challenge anyone else’s beliefs.”
The state coalition had its seeds in a dinner meeting that Blinn helped organize in Portland two years ago with members from a variety of atheist, humanist and freethinker groups in the state. The organization formed about a year and a half ago, he said, but only this year became affiliated with the national group the United Coalition of Reason, or UnitedCoR.
The national group put up $10,000 for the billboards, Blinn said.
The eight organizations in the state coalition are the Atheist Humanist Society of CT/RI, Camp Quest New England, the Connecticut Valley Atheists, the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism of Fairfield County, the Hartford Area Humanists, the Humanist Association of CT, Humanists and Freethinkers of Fairfield County, and the Secular Coalition for Connecticut.
Among the featured speakers at Saturday’s conference are David Silverman, president of Amerian Atheists, and Jessica Ahlquist, a high school student in Rhode Island who challenged a prayer mural at her school. Tickets are $35 and are available at the coalition’s website: saneonline.org. The conference, in Bartels Hall at the University of New Haven, starts at 9 a.m.