The 3-minute interview: Margaret Downey

BALTIMORE- Margaret Downey is president of the Atheist Alliance International, a Web-based group dedicated to defending atheists from what they consider clerical bullying.

Downey convened a conference of atheists in D.C. this weekend, drawing such heavy-hitters as Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Samuel Harris and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Why do we need an atheist conference?

We bring people together to meet, socialize and exchange ideas. And we also have the goal of educating future leaders of atheism by bringing in student representatives from college campuses and we educate the public at large in an attempt to dispel myths about atheists. It is extremely difficult in the United States and in some parts of the world to dismiss the notion of believing in a supernatural god.

Some people would say that thesecular, if not atheist, mindset, is already too dominant in American culture. How do you respond?

I don’t see that. From the perspective of the Christian community, it looks like sure, it looks like we’re a dominant force. But when you look around the world at the overtly religious countries and the problems they have, it’s obvious that secularism should be dominant. We’re looking at world problems such as fundamentalists who think nothing of flying airplanes into buildings.

Some prominent conservatives — like Leo Strauss and Ayn Rand — have been atheists. So why do so many people associate atheism with liberalism?

It is a liberal mindset. We have conservative as well as liberal secularists. But the entire philosophy is a live-and-let-live mindset.

source: The 3 minute interview Margaret_Downey