Organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) have changed their mind and won’t allow an atheist group to host an information booth at this year’s event.

The decision came several hours after American Atheists announced they would attend the March 6-8 conference, and the group’s president questioned the stated reasoning.

CPAC spokeswoman Meghan Snyder said American Atheists had misrepresented “their willingness to engage in positive dialogue and work together to promote limited government.”

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, had told CNN on Monday night that his group hoped to bring conservative atheists “out of the closet,” and he said he wasn’t worried about angering the Christian right because “the Christian right should be threatened by us.”

Snyder said CPAC contacted Silverman about his remarks, which she said attacked “the very idea that Christianity is an important element of conservatism.

“People of any faith tradition should not be attacked for their beliefs, especially at our conference,” Snyder said. “He has left us with no choice but to return his money.”

But Silverman told The Raw Story he isn’t buying it.

“The (American Conservative Union), which has invited CPAC speakers such as Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Sarah Palin, is afraid of my tone?” he said. “My ‘tone’ was clearly an excuse to back out after our press release angered religious conservatives.”

Silverman said the continuing conflation of religion and conservative was “not a viable strategy.”

“This was apparently too scary for CPAC attendees to hear,” Silverman said. “America’s religious conservatives can deny it all they want, but soon they’re going to realize that ignoring the growing number of atheist constituents is a losing proposition.”

[image of David Silverman via American Atheists' Flickr photostream, Creative Commons licensed]