As the annual Conservative Political Action Conference kicks off in Orlando, Florida, Thursday afternoon, a new exhibitor is raising eyebrows. Atheists for Liberty, an organization of libertarian-leaning Republicans who profess disbelief in a personal deity, will be part of this year's event.
The organization describes itself as dedicated to the idea that government and religion should be isolated from one another, a concept often associated with progressive ideology. But the group also says it is committed to "liberty for all."
"Atheists for Liberty is an educational, nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting for and sustaining individual rights and the separation of religion & government," the group's website reads. "We work to defend the fundamental freedoms that support the human quest for knowledge."
The inclusion of the organization has been a source of some controversy for many conservatives who view the existence of God and His enduring moral order that is sometimes referred to as natural law as being fundamental to conservative ideology.
"There is no liberty without God," conservative author Michael Chapman said. "Conservatives know this. Atheists for Liberty is preposterous, like Racists for Equality. It doesn't make sense. And it is not conservative," he wrote.
Similar controversy occurred in 2011 when the conference invited GOProud, a gay Republican group, to participate in the annual meeting. At that time, leading conservative organizations like the Family Research Council, Heritage Foundation, Concerned Women for America, and the Media Research Center all boycotted the event.