CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A conference for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and humanists from across the Carolinas is scheduled to begin today at the Hilton Charlotte Executive Park Hotel in South Charlotte.

Organizers of the Carolinas Secular Conference have been promoting their event as the “Godless Conference.” And, in phrasing familiar to many an LGBT person, the conference theme is “Coming Out.” Organizers want non-theists to be more public with their views.

“It is only by coming out that we can let the world know that there is a growing community of nontheists in the Charlotte metropolitan area,” said Steve Bivens, coordinator of Charlotte Coalition of Reason, a group celebrating its launch this weekend. “The general public does not realize that we are their friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members. And we should be as free as anyone to express our views openly.”

The national sponsor of the conference said too many non-theists often think they are alone in their views.

“Nontheists sometimes don’t realize there’s a community for them because they’re inundated with religious messages at every turn,” said Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR), the Washington D.C.-based parent organization of the Charlotte Coalition of Reason and a funder of the conference. “Being visible is therefore important to us.”

This is the third year the conference has been held, but the first time it’s been held in Charlotte. It was organized in Carolina Beach in 2011 and held in Charleston last year.

For more information on the conference, visit

Compiled from release

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.