Nashville Nones Convention is for religiously unaffiliated and non-believers to connect and learn how to speak up about their beliefs.

For atheists and other people who do not have any affinity with a particular religion, life can feel extremely isolated within the Bible Belt. This is the reason a number of organizations in Tennessee like the Sunday Assembly Nashville and Murfreesboro Freethinkers, have joined together to organize a conference in Nashville.

According to the organizers, the event, which was named Nashville Nones Convention, or simply NaNoCon, lasted for a day and was free for participants. It was a day long extravaganza of engaging workshops, and a much-awaited dinner called Freethinkers' Feast. There was also an after-party which was given the name NaNoConda.

The workshops encompassed a wide range of topics, including how to discuss beliefs with relatives. Participants were taught to make speeches about personal values and beliefs. Key speakers included the President of American Atheists, David Silverman, who was a keynote speaker. Incidentally, he is also the convention's catalyst. Gayle Jordan, executive director, Recovering from Religion, and President of Murfreesboro Freethinkers, is a friend of Silverman. Silverman invited Jordan to discuss her new book Fighting God, An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World in the convention.

The NaNoCon offered the religiously unaffiliated and non-believers a chance to mingle with people holding similar views, get knowledge about pressing issues and also to connect with the resources. According to Patrick Horst, a co-organizer, it can be quite cathartic when people come together for a convention-like environment. People feel more engaged and there is a sense of belonging. A participant connects with the people and they no longer feel alone.

About 24 percent of Nashville residents are considered to be religiously unaffiliated in 2015, if one goes by the report published by Public Religion Research Institute's American Values Atlas. The report says “nones” comprise about 18 percent of Tennessee’s population. Horst, also the spokesperson for Sunday Assembly Nashville, a secular congregation, said that the religiously unaffiliated frequently feel undeserving, overlooked and at times ostracized and marginalized. Such a convention quenches demands of this nature. He said that this will result in a more assertive nature of the atheist community and which will ultimately be realized and the atheists will rightfully take their spot in the American sphere. Horst is himself a humanist and also an atheist.


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