(Photo: Chris Calvey)
An atheist student group from a Wisconsin academic institution will be holding an "Atheist Pride Parade," said to be the first of its kind in the United States.
The Atheists, Humanists, & Agnostics of the University of Wisconsin-Madison expects hundreds to show up for the event, scheduled for Saturday.
Chris Calvey, executive director for the AHA, told The Christian Post that the Pride Parade was part of the student club's second annual Freethought Festival.
"Early on in the planning, I was inspired by the [LGBT] Wisconsin Capitol Pride Parade. I wondered if there had ever been an atheist version of a pride parade, and much to my surprise, it appears that no one has attempted anything like it before," said Calvey.
"We realized that we had the opportunity to do something groundbreaking, and that the Freethought Festival would be the perfect time to do it."
According to Calvey, the parade will begin at the Lowell Conference Center in Madison and continue State Street, which is the main pedestrian thoroughfare for the city.
Dan Barker, co-president of the national atheist organization Freedom From Religion Foundation, will be one of the speakers as the parade culminates at the Wisconsin State Capitol.
The event draws a parallel to the 2012 Reason Rally, which was held in Washington, D.C., and featured several famous atheist personalities. Calvey compared and contrasted the two events to CP.
"The motivations and the goals of our event are essentially the same as the Reason Rally. Of course, the Reason Rally was the culmination of many years of planning with the combined efforts of all the national atheist organizations," said Calvey.
"What is unique about our 'Atheist Pride Parade' is that it is a completely grassroots effort, organized by a handful of college students. We hope that our event will inspire other collegiate and local atheist groups to create pride parades in their own communities."
Last November, AHA of UW-Madison received $67,000 from the Student Services Finance Committee, reportedly the largest sum any atheist student group has received in any college in the United States.
Jake Heyka, president of Badger Catholic and an undergrad at UWM, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that while he disagrees with AHA's views he respected their right to the funding.
"In light of God granting us free will to act and believe as we choose, Badger Catholic respects the beliefs of AHA and their conscious decision to believe as they choose," said Heyka.
"My personal belief is that from a governance standpoint, one ideology has justification to be funded just as much as any other ideology should their service provided fit the criteria that [UWM student government] puts forth."