Salt Lake City, UT will host the atheist convention this coming weekend. So as a "warm-up event," two Mormon professors from Brigham Young and two atheist experts held a panel to discuss "public perceptions of atheists and Mormons." The panel was moderated by University of Utah history professor Paul Reeve.
"The panelists will tackle common stereotypes of both groups, dispel myths and answer audience questions." Once of the panelists was American Atheists President David Silverman. He has been with the group since 1997. He worked his way up to director, national spokesman, vice president, and then became president in 2010.
In an interview with the Salt Lake City Tribune, when asked what he thought about Mormonism, Silverman said "Mormonism demonstrates the power of indoctrination." He goes on to say "Mormonism has been proven wrong beyond reasonable doubt, yet it persists, due to the power of indoctrination."
Silverman said American Atheists aim to target "closeted atheists," those who still go to church and practice religion even though they are not Christian, Jews, Muslims, or Mormons. He targets all types of people and urges them to come out as atheist and express themselves freely. Before the debate, Silverman tried to purchase billboards in the city, but was unable to because businesses would not sell him the space. He said he wanted to say things like "Hey we're atheists. Come party with us." But there was no company willing to put up his billboards.
The panel went smoothly even though both sides disagreed on everything. Both sides related their experience with the other side and tried to dispel myths that may be out there about their beliefs.