Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Why do you atheists feel the need to meet up?"

"What are you going to do, sit around and talk about how much you hate god?"

"I think hanging out with an organization that is defined as non-religious sounds as much fun as hanging out with an organization that defines itself as religious."

"I've hung out with atheists before. I'd rather iron my dick."

Oh, the questions I hear about atheist groups. Even atheists themselves seem to question why other atheists would want to meet up as a group or go to a conference (by the way-- those are actual quotes that people have said to me).

To explain my thoughts on it, I'll give some history. I was raised Catholic and in a really conservative area. As a kid, I loved going to church. The feeling of community and the fact that there's a large group of people care about you and what happens to you, who support you...that was such a good feeling! Then when I started to question my faith and stopped going to church...I lost that community. And it sucked. Especially since my family didn't support me.

So then I went to college (in a really Christian area), and anytime something bad happened to me, or I was struggling with something, I tried to turn to people, but all the responses I got were "Pray, because Jesus will help you," or "God has a plan." That sucked as well. It actually made me feel worse. 

I didn't really have anyone to turn to. So I started an atheist group on my campus, because I didn't know any other atheists on campus, and I figured I had to try.

The response was overwhelming. People came out of the woodwork and said they felt the same way I did, and they just wanted a place where they could feel like everyone didn't hate them for simply believing something different.

I've now been a part of a lot of atheist groups, and I actually see a lot of dissent in ideas and actions people want to do. It's great, because we have fantastic conversations and we're all exposed to new ideas that we may not have considered before. The only time I've seen someone ostracized was when they act like jerks (I've only seen it once, and the guy claimed that because he was a white, heterosexual male, he didn't care about equal rights for any group other than himself, and no amount of talk could convince him otherwise...and he chose to leave, we didn't kick him out).

Why does anyone go to any group ever? Because humans are social creatures and we like being around other people, especially people who agree with us. What bothers me is that people get on the case of atheists (or skeptics, or agnostics, or whatever you title is) for wanting to meet up and/or go to conferences...but no one asks a religious person why they go to church. Like, okay, you believe in Jesus, now what? You sit around and talk about how much you hate atheists?

So, why should you go? 
Some people really need a safe space to be able to say, "Hey, I don't believe in a god." And if you don't need that, perhaps you can provide support for someone who does. Or perhaps you don't challenge yourself very me, someone will be there to challenge your ideas and make you work to defend them (or change them, which is also good). Most importantly, it will enable you to get active in the movement. Whether you're a firebrand who thinks we need to destroy religion or a diplomat who wants to coexist, we need to be out and active. 

If you've never been to a secular-type meetup before, I do suggest that you try it. It is a great way to be introduced to new ideas, or to get recommendations of things to watch/read, or just to have a safe place where no one is going to tell you that something is wrong with you because you didn't pray hard enough. :)

1 comment:

  1. Having just been at a convention, I can agree that it's a pretty awesome time. :)

    It's weird that the people who don't seem to get this are so often religious themselves. One guy on my blog the other week insisted that there was no point in having an atheists' convention because we would have nothing to talk about. When the topics of the talks we did have were listed for him, he switched to the backup complaint that we should have invited more theist speakers in the name of fairness. I think we might consider that when the churches start inviting *us* to speak there!