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1st World Atheist Conference, December 1972
"Atheism liberates humans from all kinds of bondage and restores the lost dignity to the individual to stand on his feet as a free and responsible person," declared Gora inaugurating the first World Atheist Meet. He further said: "The essence of atheism is the freedom of the individual. Freedom releases the immense potentialities of human imagination, initiative and effort that lay suppressed under theistic faith. The mood of supplication and complaint, inherent in prayers to god and petitions to government, has no place in atheistic way of life."
The World Atheist Meet, first of its kind in history, was held at the Atheist Centre, Vijayawada, India, for five days from December 22 to 26, 1972. About 120 delegates and observers from India and abroad attended the conference. Many delegates from India and other countries could not attend because of the tense political situation around Vijayawada for a separate statehood. Normal life was disturbed as communications were disrupted. Many foreign delegates, including Mrs. Madalyn Murray O’Hair from the United States could not attend as visas were not granted in time. In the historic conference many atheists, rationalists, humanists, freethinkers and secularists belonging to different walks of life assembled together.
In his key-note address to the Conference Gora said that atheism and theism were two ways of life. Atheism makes man independent and responsible whereas theism enables man to shift his responsibility on a god.
Referring to various efforts in history to establish the supremacy of man, Gora said that, in fact, every prophet was more atheistic than those before him. The atheistic content in the teachings of prophets set more men more free. The release of freedom raised popular rebellions against dishonesty and inequality. But the prophets failed because they compromised with theistic beliefs in vogue with a view to communicate effectively with their contemporaries.
Many delegates stated diverse programs which include eradication of superstitions, opposition to communal and religious fanaticism, working for secularism, removal of caste and religious symbols, promotion of mixed marriages, exposing myths and miracles, struggle for partyless and pompless democracy, fight for economic and political equality, working for integrated neighborhoods of untouchables and the so-called Upper-castes in India and of blacks and whites in the West, production of atheist literature and financial support to atheist activities. It was It was felt that no program of action was small if it was undertaken with devotion.
An Exhibition of Atheist Literature from different corners of the globe was arranged. One of the important events of this historic Meet was the release of Gora’s book Positive Atheism. The book reflects Gora’s principles, struggles and achievements in the march towards social change. Mr. R. Kasturi, released the book.
The Conference, first of its kind, received national and international attention.