As the president of the Atheist
& Agnostic Student
Association at the University
, I can say that there ARE support groups for atheists, although they are certainly rare.
The main problem with atheist support groups is that they are frequently dominated by either goth
kids who hate their parents or young Objectivist
s--it's hard to find people who place atheism as the center of their social life. After all, it seems silly to put something at the center of your life if you DON'T believe in it. Doesn't it?
Living in America
, however, we as atheists are forced to deal with politicians
who are almost inevitably religious. We live in a religion
-dominated society, where, in most cities, individuals who choose not to attend church
on a weekly basis are looked upon as "immoral
". If atheism
were not so widely scorned, support group
s would be TOTALLY useless. If religion
didn't dominate American
society, if we lived in Great Britain or Canada or some other country in which religion is less influential, our student group would be irrelevant.
Whenever our student group runs a PR campaign, I usually get the following questions (taken from the ufatheists.org webpage)
1. So, what exactly is an atheist? How does it differ from
2. Are you guys Satanists?
3. Are you guys (communists/fascists/goth kids/etc)
4. What is Objectivism?
5. So you guys are a club that doesn't believe in
6. It seems silly to have a club based around what you
DON'T believe in.
7. What sort of things do you do, anyways?
About 60% of our meetings are open-discussion format.
They're not so much led as guided. A topic is presented, and the group
is encouraged to share their opinions. Atheists don't agree on
everything--in fact, there is very little that we do agree on outside of the
lack of evidence for a deity. Other formats we have incorporated
include movie viewings, panel debates, and guest speakers.
8. What's the point of this whole club? What's your
I got blindsided with this question on my first week as AASA
president. I didn't have a concrete purpose of the club at the moment,
but that night after the meeting I thought about the question. Here is
my answer: "To have fun". If a group isn't fun in some
sense, then it is an unsuccessful club. In a more specific sense, our
group exists to do the following: Discuss philosophy and the nature of
ultimate reality. Provide a sense of community to those who have
decided that a church is a poor place to build a community. Provide a
voice of skepticism and opposition to religious groups on our campus.
To fight dogma. Finally, to create doubts in the minds of
believers. This last one was troubling to me: evangelism is the most
perpetually irritating aspect of religion. Therefore, our goal isn't
to go out and make disbelievers out of the population at large--our goal
is to show the flaws in existing belief systems so that they will be forced
to examine their own beliefs as critically as possible.