Published: Apr 18, 2014 3:15 PM EDT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Leaders of a prominent atheist group say the best spot to find a nonbeliever is in a place of faith.

To that end, the American Atheists, in an effort to raise awareness and attract new members, are holding their national conference over Easter weekend in the home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

They say the church's large influence in Utah has made atheists in the state reluctant to speak about religious doubts for fear of being shunned. Atheist group leasers also criticize the LDS influence as having overstepped its boundaries in areas of public policy.

A family studies professor at the University of Utah, however, says many residents view the church's influence as responsible for what they consider a pro-family atmosphere that makes the state attractive.