“Our national conventions are always on Easter weekend,” Muscato says, dispelling any rumors that the date was chosen as a personal affront to Robertson or anybody else celebrating the holiday. “We choose Easter for practical reasons: We can get a great deal on hotel and convention space. And we’re atheists, so we don’t have anything else to do.”
Peabody Hotel publicist Kelly Brock Earnest corroborates Muscato’s story. She describes the atheist booking as a “good piece of business” for a holiday weekend that is a historically slow time for local convention and hospitality industries. “For us, this is like hosting a Canadian group over the Fourth of July. It’s not their holiday.”
Chris Davis‘ lengthy article also features the stories of several local atheists:
After his divorce, [Paul] Ringer started looking into online dating services like eHarmony and OkCupid. He wanted to meet new people with a similar cultural background and see what it might be like to go out on dates in the Memphis area with people who shared his interests. “I did a questionnaire for eHarmony. I’d seen it on TV and thought I’d check it out,” Ringer says. “They said, ‘Sorry there’s no one compatible with you on here.’
“I’m a nerd,” Ringer says, laying out his next move. He went online and found user forums that collected data from dating sites related to things like education, religion, and how far a person has traveled from their home over the course of his or her life. Using that information, he created a series of dating maps. And then he combined them in photoshop in order to discover just how far he’d have to travel for a match.
“It was like I lived in this black hole,” he says, describing what the map told him about his pitiful hometown prospects.
Thankfully, other anecdotes are more upbeat 🙂
It’s great coverage for the conference, which seems to make a splash each year no matter where its held. I’m not in Memphis this weekend, but my podcasting partner Jessica will be to conduct some interviews. Can’t wait to hear those conversations!