Atheists and Mormons Host Joint Panel to Dispel Myths and Stereotypes About Their Beliefs

Mormons will share the stage with atheists Wednesday as part of a joint panel held in Salt Lake City, Utah, to discuss and dispel the myths and stereotypes that are believed about the two groups.

In a statement released last week, American Atheists President David Silverman explained that the panel will "challenge how atheists and religious people think of each other."

He continued: "It's true that many atheist Utahans are ex-Mormons, but many atheists around the country have very little direct experience with Mormons. And many Mormons have very little real-world experience with or knowledge of atheists. We want to fix that because a better understanding of where we're all coming from is needed to share political and social space."

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Titled "Atheists and Mormons Panel Discussion: Exposing Myths, Dispelling Stereotypes (Public Perception and Reality)," the panel will be moderated by Paul Reeve of the University of Utah, and will feature Silverman, ex-Mormon author Joanne Hanks, and Brigham Young University professors  J.B. Haws and Richard Holzapfel.

The Mormon-atheist panel comes not long after the conclusion of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' general conference, and one day before the atheists are to hold their annual national convention in the same city.

Held on the first weekend of April, the Mormons' general conference drew an estimated 100,000 attendees to Salt Lake City's Convention Center. The American Atheists annual national convention will be held at the Hilton Salt Lake Center Thursday through Sunday.

Speakers confirmed for the atheists' national convention include: the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of American United for the Separation of Church and State; PZ Myers, biologist and blogger; Marsha Botzer, founder of the Ingersoll Gender Center and LGBT activist; and Faisal Saeed al Mutar, founder of the Global Secular Humanist Movement.

The keynote speaker will be Chris Kluwe, a former punter for the Minnesota Vikings who also believes that marriage should be redefined to include same-sex couples.

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