Last weekend marked the 5th Annual PA State Atheist/Humanist Conference. It was a weekend packed with amazing speakers and entertainers ending Sunday afternoon with the Atheists Fight Hunger meal packing project done in partnership with the Outreach Project to benefit Philabundance.
I could provide endless commentary on the various speakers who presented throughout the weekend, Hemant Mehta, David Silverman, Tracie Harris, and Alix Jules, to name a few, but their talks will all be available to watch online so I won’t waste my breath. What I will write about is what makes PAStAHCon uniquely awesome – Atheists Fight Hunger.
Atheists Fight Hunger was done for the first time at PAStAHCon in 2015 as part of the conference, but since then interest in the project has grown, and it is being incorporated into more atheist and humanist conferences around the country. American Atheists recently announced that they will be including the project in their annual conference next year.
I’ve been avoiding directly calling myself an atheist up to this point, but after working with a group of fellow non-believers to pack 26,000 meals for people in need in southeastern PA, I’ve come to realize that my atheist/humanist values are something to be proud of. Among the people packing meals were conference attendees, organizers, and speakers with very little in common beyond humanistic values and a desire to help; each person playing a small but important role in the process.
In the 2 1/4 hours that I was packing meals I performed various mundane tasks from filling bags with oatmeal, to sealing bags of mac and cheese, to packing finished meals in boxes alongside fellow atheists. I even had the chance to teach David Silverman how to seal bags of mac and cheese which is basically the atheist equivalent of teaching Jesus to break loaves of bread.
The reason I am writing this is not to brag about what we did over the weekend (ok maybe a little), but rather to say that being an atheist is not something to be ashamed of, or something that people should be afraid to talk about. Many people, even including some atheists, have a negative view of atheism. I used to as well, but after seeing what atheism can be, I am proud to call myself an atheist and to be a part of the atheist/humanist community.