History of the Carolinas Secular Association

In 2010, the vice-president of FreeThoughtAction Joseph McDaniel Stewart organized a loose coalition of secular groups in North Carolina to pull off a statewide billboard campaign. The name of the coalition was the North Carolina Secular Association and six billboards were placed in six cities across North Carolina from the mountains to the sea during the July 4th holiday. The billboards read “One Nation Indivisible” over an American flag background. The campaign was a smashing success, and those involved received round after round of media attention–local, national, and international–for over six weeks. (More about the billboard campaign can be found HERE.)

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After the campaign was over, Joseph attempted to get the leaders of the various groups involved to get together for a conference in Wilmington, NC in the coming fall to make the coalition into something more than just an organization created to pull off a billboard campaign. Unfortunately, the conference required more effort to pull off than Joseph had energy for in the wake of the campaign, so he postponed his plans until the following year.

In early 2011, Joseph was contacted by then president of Humanists & Freethinkers of Cape Fear Han Hills. Han relayed his ideas for a regional conference for the leaders and activists across both North and South Carolina. Han’s ideas were much more elaborate than what Joseph’s had been, but because his ideas aligned so well with Joseph’s, they agreed to work together to hold a conference in the fall.

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Han deserves the great bulk of the credit for organizing the first Carolinas Secular Conference at Carolina Beach, NC in the fall of 2011. The conference was a huge success. Han and Joseph attempted to organize a Carolinas Secular Association coming out of the conference (an evolution of the North Carolina Secular Association). During the conference, several ways were suggested that the groups in NC and SC might work together, and different people volunteered to get involved in different teams to flesh it out. After the conference, Han created a website with forums for the various teams to engage with each other.

By the time of the second conference in Charleston, SC the Carolinas Secular Association was incorporated. After the conference, Han stepped down from his direct involvement to take on an advisory role, passing the torch off to president of WNC Humanists Jennifer Lovejoy.

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At the 3rd annual conference held in Charlotte, NC on Oct. 4-6, 2013, CSA formed a board to elect officers and form committees to: draft by-laws, present suggestions on how the various groups in NC and SC might work together, and to begin planning the next conference.

In order to better facilitate the objectives of CSA, we decided a new website was in order. The new website was completed in March 2014.

The 2014 Conference was also held in Charlotte. In 2015, it was held in Myrtle Beach. In order to encourage as many as possible to attend the 2016 Reason Rally in Washington, DC, the conference was put on hold.

More information about previous conferences can be found HERE.