As a mother and Atheist ( for over 20 years) I've found the hardest aspect of being an Atheist and a parent - is finding community. Not just for myself - but for my children. Community and socialization are crucial in a child's development. I feel this in one of the most significant reasons there is less women in Atheism -  because there is less family in Atheism. In meet-ups, they are predominately male - and usually at libraries. 

They discuss philosophy and science ... Not child friendly. 
As you read statuses and updates by fellow Atheists- you'll notice us wives and our children omitted. Very rare - is the admission of wives, children, our family life. Women are the backbone of church -  they are what keeps 'faith' alive...But not faith in God, instead faith in family and community. If we want reason to grow - then we have to find a way to include the atheist family - to offer support and community for our growing families. To organize social groups that are centered on family life and provide that crucial social development and bonds through friendship and community that are for now , found mainly in church. We have to supply an alternative...This is what keeps many people I know from outting- fear of losing community and the bonds they've built. 

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So what are you going to be ? Just cass ? I'm just Angela most times. Socialization and organization - is highly sought out in most animals. We like to hang out and kill stuff together, eat together ...all sorts of vile stuff together. It's nature.

'it's important for religion to be a topic, otherwise it's nothing but a group of friends meeting to talk with no meaningful purpose.'

To be honest - once away from the pastor and etc - we never talked religion. We shared our lives; laughed, told on our husbands... silly shit. It was just friendship. I'd like to hang out and pick fleas.

I disagree with you saying "it's pointless without religion" - I don't want the religion. My ethics are such that I couldn't abide that. Youth need a place to belong too - a place where they can exchange and find commonality - other than porn. 

 

I do see the lack of community an issue. A lot of my theist friends network for jobs through church - they help one another out with keeping employed and usually exclusively use fellow Christians. If it weren't for the fact I fear I'd snap and burn the building down - I'd go for the networking. A friend of mine has a boy up in Ohio - he sought out the biggest church he could in his locality- started going there... he told them his parents were Atheists, they took him right in . He has a very lucrative business now and is 23.  He is an Atheist. He needed to network his area and so he did.

 

He goes to church, fellowship and can wicked debate....Smarter than us ?

I also feel it's important for kids to have that sense of belonging to something especially when they're surround by one major religion. that's why I may try out the local UU congregation as my son gets a bit older like four or five. So he can mingle with other kids and have opportunities for activities and comparative religion outside the home.

Feel sad for American atheists when I read exchanges like this. The problem barely arises in most of Western Europe, or SE Asia (Thailand). There is simply no stigma attached to atheism. A majority of people I meet are atheist or apatheist anyway. I can honestly say that in France, Spain, Italy, UK and Thailand where I've lived it's a non-issue.

What annoyed her greatly, from my reading, is you blithely telling her to do things she has already done or attempted to do and posted, right here in this thread, that she has done or attempted to do. I'm impressed that she continued to try to engage you rather than just ignoring you after about the second time you figuratively patted her on the head.

This would by why I discontinued discussion - when one surrenders a free mind to adhere to a ideology , they no longer are of relevance. I'm a free thinker - which led me to Atheism. However being atheist does not call for my defense of non belief to the point of irrationality or dissonance. If I have to lie, ignore or treat all claims against Atheism- even from Atheists as an attack, regardless of merit - then I have failed at being a free mind. Yes, she ignored the bulk of what is in thread - and repeatedly posted what I felt was patronizing replies for the most. However it also serves as an example to others that atheists can also irrationally defend or be guilty of cognitive dissonance. I truly felt as if I was in discussion with a theist... But with an atheist exhibiting same attributes. 

 

'such passion for the topic' 

 

Every atheist should have passion for this topic ... It is one of the of the most damning hurdles we face as a group. Those who realize it , are ahead of the game. 

Angela, early in my atheism I attended a few services at the UU church and found them extremely welcoming and accepting of atheism.  In fact the one I went to celebrated Darwin's birthday like a holiday!  You do need to put up with some religious dogma, but they vary and along with Christian, Jewish, Native American, and Buddhist talks/sermons there are plenty of humanist and atheist speakers and messages as well.  It's a safe haven for homosexual Christians to serve also.  Granted it's not necessarily atheist, but it's really nice.

I also take my daughter to a MOPS group, where other moms visit and drink coffee while the kids play.  I've found a lot of secular activities and groups in our community.  I take my ten year old to volunteer at an animal shelter, she gathers towels and blankets to donate to them. We attend family events that are open to the public.  Our kids are in city sports, I've met a lot of parents there and we've had plenty of playdates. Again, it's not atheist but it scratches the itch for me.

Another idea is to start your own atheist/agnostic meetup for families or for moms who are at home with little ones.  If you boast coffee and playtime for kids, I'd sure come!  You could also attend one of those library atheist meetups and suggest your ideas for a more family friendly meetup in addition to the one they're running.

I started a support group here in my hometown because there was a need.  I've been fulfilled and enriched by it, I think you should consider starting your own group.  They aren't there because no one bothered to get it going. 

I def have tried - the problem is , is that most are interested in low key educational enriched activity - such as library or social drinking meet ups. There are some suggesting opening centers for family enrichment that are similar to church.  I also attend charity events and etc - I do mostly the same things as you , however - this does not build lifelong relationships and stability in a child's life through bonding , or in mine... consistent involvement is why women stay in church - even if a non believer. imply sitting or standing aside strangers , even if in good intent - is not making the connections children would otherwise receive in church . it is a wholly different type of community - and very hard to grasp if you've never had this. I have community - of strangers in an concerted attempt to bring change or help to someone ... I don't have intimate community. There is a difference. 'intimate' community is what keeps women in the church and what make sit so hard for women to walk away from... Atheism can't do this because atheism is geared toward autonomy - for now. In order to survive or be adopted wide scale - it will have to realize human needs for bonding, community and intimacy within a group. 

 

Until such a day, I will do what i do , or must - and hope one day my daughters/sons will be a free minds. My hope is they have intimate community for themselves and their children.  The topic seems to get - strayed into other areas and not comprehended fully in its context. it can't be solved by saying - take your kid to public events - because public won't satisfy the need for long - it's our mature to find like minds.  I've been an Atheist most my life - and I've raised two adult atheist children , and now have two toddlers... the issues are the same.  Maybe most new atheist mothers haven't given it great depth of thought - or they misunderstand that need of children , and even themselves , to have deep meaningful relationships with like minded people. It can't be found on forums & etc.  It's a tough topic and many are defensive of Atheism or anything that casts a shadow on Atheism - whereas people such as myself see it as a respect and continuance of our free minds. 

 

Thank you for the responses - do continue your journey. It is my hope you find the enriching bonds of motherhood and womanhood with like minds. 

I haven't read the posts here past the first page so maybe this has been addressed already but I don't have time to read all of them so I'll just go ahead and post this.

 

I totally understand the lack of community and I see this as the number one factor as to why there aren't more women active in the atheist movement and why more women stay in church. It is our evolutionary instinct to find community and since so many of us were raised in religion it may sometimes be easier to just join a church to find that community than to do the work that it would take to create that community in a non-theistic environment. Women are usually responsible for a greater variety of responsibilities and adding the responsibility of creating community from scratch is probably too much for most Mom's who are juggling work, babies, school, home, etc. 

 

There are few alternatives available but it might be worth looking into and, even if you aren't a parent or your children are grown, it might behoove those interested in supporting the atheist movement to consider supporting, financially and with you volunteering time, some of these alternatives in order to make more of them available for those busy Mom's who are raising our next generations of non-theistics.

 

  • Unitarian Universalism-this alternative is easy and fairly common. It may not be the solution for all but it's a great way to find community. Yes, some are churches but UUism is more like a civic organization than a religious community and you and your children can learn about different religions without dogma or doctrine. A great educational opportunity and they do great social justice work as well.
  • Atheist/humanist sunday schools-I have no idea how common they are but I have heard they exist. Another great educational and community opportunity if you are lucky enough to have something like this.
  • Secular parenting groups-I was inspired after reading Dale McGowan's books, Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, to start a secular parenting group here in the babble belt. We have regular play groups for the preschoolers, picnics, workshops (Dale McGowan is doing a seminar here next month! Yay!) and discussion groups. I started this even though my children are now grown. I want something like this to be available to my kids when they have kids!

 

I'm sure there are many other options as well. Hopefully these alternatives will become available for families because if we don't support young families, we will remain in the dark ages!

 

If you are interested in starting a group in your area please feel free to contact me. I'm happy to share my ideas. 

 

I could also use your financial help to support this cause if you are able. You can see some of the things we are doing (I'll be adding more but our website is new-if you blog about secular parenting let me know!) you can visit our website. http://secularfamilynetwork.com

 

It's fine to say that parents should just create a secular community but in reality, it's not easy! But it can be done. 

way late to the discussion, but I joined a UU church for the community and religious education/protection for my kids. Most of our congregation are atheist/agnostic/secular humanists, as are at least 50% of UUs. Even those who call themselves pagan tend to be more skeptical of the supernatural and magic than mainstream Christianity.

 

There is a reason why there is an old joke of new UUs being "atheists with kids" .

 

Seriously, before we started attending church, we got pressure all around us to come to this or that church event. Once I joined the UU church, so many needs were met- friendship, ethical and moral instructions for my kids and discussions with adults that respected my and my husband's belief, and "cover" for my kids - we were now "churched" so the pressure was off from the well-meaning christians around us.

Angela: I closely relate to what you mention on your message.

My wife is christian and now enrolled into a Scout group in Mexico. she is now engaged on her activities, including going to church on Sunday.

Whenever I think on the cultural war that should be going in my kids mind, I have to highly ponder the sense of community they get when going to meet their friends at the Scout group or when meeting the same friends at church.

I am now enrolling on activities with the local museum, but they don't have weekly get togethers. Right now is the only think that came to my mind.

What are you doing?

On Facebook look for my "community" page called HOPE (Humans On Planet Earth), It's new.  A link I posted will take you to The Reason Project forums and a discussion I started on this very issue which has haunted me since I was in my twenties.  I'm trying to start a SW Alabama Secularists Meetup group and will take your message seriously for sure.  More family picnics, etc., and less intellectual discussions.  Times are ripe for my idea to bloom.  Need financing for a prototype.

I may be wrong, but I don't think Angela was making any sweeping generalizations when she voiced her concern that it was difficult for her to find a group of atheists that were as cohesive and family friendly as a Christian or other religious groups can be.

 

She did not say there were not any such athesit groups. She said they were difficult to come by, if even you do happen to live close enough to one, compared to finding a local organized religious affiliated group. As far as starting up her own group, she seems to have communicated plainly, that she has, in fact, tried very hard to solve this problem. Again, I don't understand the hostility that was directed toward her in this thread.

 

I read the thread several times and I have to agree with Angela. Atheists are a hated breed in the US and don't have the equal social footing that religious groups have. Hopefully, in the future, this will change and it will be more like it is in other countries, where it is not such an issue.

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