A direct message from Daves not home to me.

I can only imagine that you're becoming increasingly inundated with mail of all kinds, from criticism and hate to props and suggestions of how to make this better. So I'm somewhat reluctant to put my note onto the "suggestion pile" but I have so many "atheist ambitions" that I feel I must say something.

A thought that has continually plagued me since leaving "the faith" is that as a group, we have a difficult time finding a representative place where we can direct our intent to do something positive or good. Know what I mean? There was a time when I could just call the preacher and suggest that we might have an opportunity to something for some homeless guys under the bridge and that suggestion could usually be turned into action rather quickly.
Now I find myself at a point where I see unexplored opportunity but I have nowhere to turn for support. I recently saw a documentary, FLOW, about water shortages in developing countries and I wished I could go there and help.

A few days ago I saw the Diane Sawyer special on the children of the Appalachians and again, I wanted to do something, I wanted to go there and lend whatever skill or muscle that I have. But the last thing I wanted was to go with a religious group, even though they seem to be the first ones to respond. There should be an opportunity for us as a group to make a difference in parts of the world where we are needed. Generally, Atheist are better educated and of higher intelligence (me being an exception) than the average American so you would thing they would have more to offer.

Anyway, I would like to know your thoughts and the thoughts of some of the other members as well.

//End of transmission//

I think this is an important issue to discuss. Dave brings up a good point. I am willing to do what ever it takes, site wise. I would love to hear your input on this matter.

Views: 70

Comment by Greg R Perry on February 16, 2009 at 5:31pm
Kiva.org arranges microloans in third-world countries, so entrepreneurs can make a better life for themselves. The largest group of contributors is an atheist/freethinker group.
Comment by Rev. Tom Hicks, D.D. on February 16, 2009 at 5:32pm
Like startin' up our own atheist community servus?
Comment by Morgan Matthew on February 16, 2009 at 5:37pm
Thanks Greg for that link.
Comment by Dan Snell on February 16, 2009 at 5:42pm
A few years ago, I was participating in a discussion, when a prominent Atheist (whom I won't name) told me that it is virtually impossible to get Atheists to organize. It had always stuck with me. I recently wrote to him on Facebook to ask what he meant by that. Unfortunately, he answered another question I had asked, but failed to answer the question about organizing.

I think that my question, "Why is it difficult or next to impossible to get Atheist to organize?" is related to your quest. An answer to this question may provide information that can make organizing for a cause a future reality.

I don't think Atheists should organize about their Atheism, necessarily. But when a cause comes up, it would be good to know that they're out there in the world, lending support to others.
Comment by Frank on February 16, 2009 at 5:46pm
I think it's a great idea, if we had a humanist organization where we proudly promoted our ideas and that it's not true that atheists don't care about anyone but themselves.
Comment by Rev. Tom Hicks, D.D. on February 16, 2009 at 5:49pm
But I would love to help start an atheist AA, NA, SAA meetin' place for people that hate the cult aspects of the 12 step program. Of course, I'm not a leader so I'd need guidance to point a potential leader in the right direction for my local community.
Comment by Luke on February 16, 2009 at 9:14pm
A cool thing that kiva.org did was let you attitbute your loans to a group. AtheistMonkey started the Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious group. This group, my loans included, now totals USD256,700 of loans. One of the cool things about this organisation is that there are no strings attached to the money beyond repaying it. We aren't asking them to embrace our world view. Unlike religious groups, Kiva encourages people to be independent.
Comment by Sniz on February 17, 2009 at 2:28pm
I totally agree with this! Its really frustrating so much of the humanitarian work that goes on out there comes with the ulterior motive of spreading "Christ's love." However, if you really want to get involved, sucking it up and dealing with some religious people for a while when you consider the good you might do might be worth it. I have done this in the past.
Comment by Aric on February 17, 2009 at 11:58pm
I've volunteered in the past with religious organizations simply because I wanted to help and they were the closest volunteer oppurtunities near me. I felt good for helping but I also felt bad because the only people that were being helped by the group were religious. I think that an Atheist volunteer organization is an excellent and tangible idea that would be able to help whoever needed it regardless of religious affiliation.
Comment by sjtoupin on February 18, 2009 at 1:31am
As atheists, we have an "image" problem. We are considered untrustworthy because we are "godless." It is known that most people would trust a "born again" rapist or murderer over a law abiding Atheist. Due to the unholy matrimony of religion and politics, we are excluded. I think President Obama is one of the few presidents, if not the only POTUS, who openly acknowledged "non-believers" in his inaugural acceptance speech. Outside of this, we, as a group, are disdained and forced underground by stigma and negative image.

I see, among many issues, the inability to complete and be believable in a society entrenched with the belief that religion = good.

We are a threat because we pursue truth via rationale and logic. The religions claim to pursue truth but without question. We question. A quote I read: "Truth never fears interrogation." Religions do.

I live in a city located approximately 20 minutes East of down-town Los Angeles, California. I walked my neighborhood this past Sunday afternoon (15 Feb 2009). Within a half-mile radius from my residence, I counted *ELEVEN* (11) churches ranging from all denominations: Mandarin Baptist, Chinese Catholic, Chinese Christian, El Salvadorian, Roman Catholic among others. I never realized there were so many! It is a sad sign when the Christian book store on Main Street is in business and the educational supply store immediately next door is boarded up.

Religions are better organized because of their common thread which is their belief system. By definition, an Atheist has no belief system; unless reason and rationale is considered a belief system -- which it isn't as far as I am concerned; it is more of a method.

Religions are more accepted in the community because of the previously mentioned religion = good entrenched mentality (thousands of years in the making). Not to mention believing is fun! It takes no effort, thinking, or hard work. Somehow, people are happier because of that.

Why is it difficult or next to impossible to get Atheist to organize?
An Atheist is a "free thinker." Consequently, we are independent, dislike control or rules to some extent, are considered "rebellious" simply because we do not follow the crowd, and we rely on reason and logic (a strange concept today). The adversity and negative image the general public has of "us" forces us as outcasts, causes us to be loners, and to seek refuge "underground." We are a despised minority.

This web site seems to do a good job at creating a community. From here we need to grow. Like the African-Americans during the segregation era, they fought, died, and persevered. They had great leaders like the Reverend Dr. martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and Rosa Parks amongst many others who all championed this worthy cause. Now, we have the first President with true and traceable African-American heritage. Like woman's suffrage, they organized and fought, created and passed the 19th Amendment, and had heroines as Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

I do not think we are too far off. Great things happen in small stages. There is the Freedom From Religion Foundation (ffrf.org) which focuses on separation of church and state issues. There are intellectual Atheists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. Do not forget some very famous Atheists throughout history (Carl Sagan, Mark Twain, Gene Roddenberry, and Sigmund Freud amongst many, many others)

We need good PR. It is seldom mentioned the person who rescued a baby from a burning building is an Atheist or the rich philanthropist is a non-believer.

In closing, I respectfully present the following questions: What is our common thread (like ffrf.org)? What binds us together? I heard it said "humanity and not Christianity." How does that sell? How to improve the image and reduce the stigma? Religions can sell because they have answers to these questions that are acceptable to the general public.

P.S.: Please forgive the lengthy post!

Kind regards,

~ST

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