My talk at the forthcoming Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne is scheduled at 9.30 am next Saturday, 13 March. I'll also be signing books that morning (most likely copies of 50 Voices of Disbelief ... but hey, if you have copies of any of my other books I'm happy to sign them).
Here's what I'll be talking about:
Topic: Freedom From Religion: Atheists for Individual Liberty
Synopsis: One of the best reasons for challenging the authority of religion is that religion is, all too often, a powerful enemy of individual liberty and freedom of speech. Those things are worth defending for their own sake, but atheists and other critics of religion have especially strong reasons to defend them. We need the freedom to speak out against religion's flaws and its numerous attempts to control people's lives; and we need a social environment that favours individual liberty, since this provides us with room to organise and to live our own lives by standards of that we have chosen. There is a strong synergy between atheistic thought and classical notions of political freedom such as those advocated by John Stuart Mill. Atheists should work to defend such ideas as free speech, separation of church and state, and Mill's harm principle, which forbids the use of the criminal law merely to enforce religious or other ideas of morals. Beyond this, we must develop strategies to push religion's political influence to the margins. This will require a consistent political vision, and decisive actions to achieve both short-term and long-term goals. In that regard, we have much to learn from our conservative Christian opponents.