West Point Invites Atheist Leader, Gay Author to Speak at Diversity Conference

October 18, 2011 - 6:20 PM

Jason Torpy, Military Atheists and Freethinkers

Jason Torpy, president of Military Atheists and FreeThinkers. (Photo courtesy MAAF and West Point)

(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Military Academy at West Point has invited both an atheist leader and a gay rights author to be panelists at its 12th Annual Diversity Leadership Conference, which begins Wednesday.

Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, will join a list of speakers invited to address the topic “Cultivating Leadership and Inclusion for Service to the Nation.”

Torpy will speak at two sessions of the conference, which “brings together alumni, faculty, staff and cadets to discuss topics relevant to the future of West Point and the Army,” according to conference materials.

“He will comment on reforms necessary to provide equal opportunity for atheists and humanists and to improve the diversity of the military chaplaincy,” the West Point Web site states.

The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) is described as “a national non-profit building community for non-theistic veterans.”

Torpy also holds seats on the board of the Secular Coalition for America, “the premier lobbying organization for secular issues,” and the American Humanist Association, which fosters Humanist community and ethics, West Point said.

Nathaniel Frank, an author and gay rights activist “specializing in the stories of homosexual military personnel,” has also been invited to participate.

Frank is the author of  Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America, which won the American Library Association's Stonewall Book Award for non-fiction. He teaches at New York University.

“Known for breaking the story of the Army firing of gay Arabic linguists, he is an internationally recognized authority on the subject of gays in the military and was an expert witness in two successful constitutional challenges to ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ in federal courts,” according to conference materials.

The conference will be held from Oct. 19-21 and is sponsored by the United States Military Academy Diversity Leadership Council.

“(T)his is (a) West Point event -- the Association of Graduates and academy personnel make up the participants referred to as the Diversity Leadership Council. This event is by invitation,” West Point spokeswoman Theresa Brinkerhoff told CNSNews.com in an e-mail.

The event is not open to the media, she said.

gay, rainbow

(AP Photo)

“The conference invites major corporations and speakers to a premier leadership institution to discuss challenges and opportunities in the areas of diversity and inclusion,” according to the USMA conference materials.

“Our facilitators will cover a broad range of topics, among which will include the importance of diversity in complex problem solving, managing talent to optimize output, and facilitating a culture of inclusion. We will do so by focusing our attention on five key areas: Culture, Talent Management, Outreach, Workforce, and Respect.”

The conference is sponsored by West Point, but receives sponsorship funding from BoozAllenHamilton, Accenture, GE, ITT contractors, Walmart, USAA Bank and Wiley publishing.