The nonprofit (and nonprophet) group American Atheists will hold its annual convention in Memphis, Tennessee next year during Easter weekend, and you know what that means: Commence hilarious, barely-restrained freakout by the locals, including a seemingly incredulous WMC Action 5 field reporter.
Sasha Jones: More than a thousand atheists from across the country are expected to be here at the Peabody Hotel on Easter, and many people believe that this is just a slap in the face to people who do believe in god.
Guy on the street: I don’t think it’s right.
Guy on the street II: It’s kind of disrespectful to people who do believe.
Jones: We did reach out to the Peabody Hotel for a comment, but we have not heard back from them just yet. And the American Atheist group says that they choose Easter weekend to hold their conference each and every year because it’s a good time of the year to travel, and a lot of atheists don’t have much to do on Easter.
Atheists! Satanic Temple! Easter weekend! Atheists!
A one-off atheist convention is “a slap in the face” and “disrespectful” in a country where there’s seemingly a house of worship every 20 feet. High comedy.
Easily the best part of the segment is when the reporter said she reached out to the hotel for comment, as if it’s NAMBLA that will be staying there. Of course, the broader point is that this shouldn’t even be a story. If this had been a group of Baptists or Catholics holding their convention at the hotel, it would’ve been met with yawns of unconcern because in the United States, and in Tennessee especially, Christianity is the norm. And anything that deviates from that is considered suspect.
As we’ve previously noted, the amount of privilege some Christians afford themselves is staggering. This is especially true of white evangelical Christians, who according to a recent Pew poll, think they are discriminated against more than black people, Jews, Muslims, and atheists. And it just so happens that Tennessee has the highest percentage of white evangelicals of any state, with 47% of Tennesseans identifying as such according to statistics compiled by Prof. John Green of the University of Akron.
No doubt producers at WMC Action 5 are well aware of the sensitivities that would be offended at the thought of godless heathens descending on Memphis. Hence this fatuous news report.