Hey everyone, I live in Idaho in a community that, while growing, is where plenty of people have come to live out their last days being stuck in their ways. That being said, the population is very religious and the Atheist community doesn't seem to exist here, I'm sure that, if they haven't all been entirely indoctrinated they would be too scared to "come out" so I was wanting to start a group dedicated simply to the movement of secularism. I want everyone to at least know there is the option of not being part of a religion.
How do I go about getting together a group like this with very little funds, very few friends, and without throwing my hometown into a rage about such "blasphemous" activity?
Meetup is great. That's how I found the local atheist/skeptics groups in Cinti. Craigslist will forever be associated with booty calls and serial killers in my mind, like AOL. But whatever floats your boat.
For a place to meet...think about library meeting rooms (they're free, but may be tricky depending on church/state laws and whether the locals want to claim atheism is a religion), the YMCA, paying for a meal each to reserve a back room at a restaurant (everyone buys half a sandwhich at Panera Bread), or hotels with seasonally low traffic (they may be open to negotiating a lower conference room rental fee).
To avoid a backlash...think about the way you "brand" your group. Are you an "atheist" group, a "secular" group, or a "freethought" group? How will you describe your group's purpose on flyers, on websites, or to curious locals? What types of activities or disgussions will take place? With this in mind, think about how you can convey what you are interested in doing with the least threatening rhetoric.
Be transparent but most of all, be strategically transparent. How can you show the community that your group does not represent their worst fears incarnate? Can you show them how your secular values benefit the community? Perhaps that could be part of your group's mission. Our local group does charity work, is open to all newcomers, and is respectful and lighthearted around waiters and restaurant management.
It may be a good idea to bounce your ideas off of someone who has a leadership role in a secular group and learn from their mistakes and successes.
Best of luck!
Bah humbug. That's what they told young gay kids to do in the 80s and 90s--move to a big city where you can be who you are.
Here's a better idea...push for change that will make it safe for you to hold your head high in your home town.
That's what I'd do if I was gay in this town. That's probably what I'll do anyway, it's too hard to meet any singles here, especially any single atheists.
Craigslist community section? I see a little posted there for a few areas of Idaho. And/or just a simple, free website containing the right keywords could get it listed on google.
Oh, and here at TA, of course. But I'd make it for the whole state of Idaho, just for more fun.
Do you really need a group? There's one in my area and I don't even attend their meetings.
I just noticed a cool, TA search feature: