Ken Bronstein was excited to notify us of a great coup: six members of his organization, the New York City Atheists, attended Mayor Bloomberg’s annual Interfaith Breakfast this weekend. It’s believed to be the first time nonbelievers have been invited, as nonbelievers, to the event.
We asked Bronstein why atheists would even want to attend an Interfaith Breakfast, seeing as they don’t, in point of fact, have faith.
“Oh, we have faith,” Bronstein told us. “Just not in God.”
A spokesman from the Mayor’s office confirmed that the Mayor had invited the guests as members of NYC Atheists, and “in his remarks did certainly welcome those who, while not professing a particular faith, do love the city, recognizing the importance of working together for the common good of the people of New York City.”
Bronstein finds the invitation, like the mention President Obama made of nonbelievers in his Inaugural Address, a sign of a “dramatic shift” in attitudes toward unchurched Americans.
“When I first got involved with NYC Atheists five years ago,” he said, “we had to put all our newsletters in envelopes, because most of our [regular-mail] subscribers didn’t want peoiple to know they were getting mail from us. I don’t have to do that anymore.”
We were disappointed to learn that the atheists sat quietly at the breakfast at the New York Public Library, and did not give invocations, as representatives of God-based faiths did. “Maybe next year,” says Bronstein.