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An Ideal Organized Social Group for Secularists

March 4, 2008

Last week, I introduced a basic outline for an atheist organization that I plan to start.  Now I’d like to discuss the social support aspect of the organization in more detail.

The organization, tentatively called the International Society of Secularists, will consist of many local chapters.  My goal is for the chapter to have regular social gatherings, hopefully at least once a week.  Since a major focus of the ISS will be local atheist community building, these regular social gatherings will be a cornerstone of the entire organization.  Here is my vision of how things will go:

The facilitator for the next social gathering will post an announcement on the chapter’s website and email list to tell chapter members vital information about the gathering.  It of course will include the when, where, and what to expect details of the gathering.  One example of a suitable gathering might be as simple as having some members get together at a local coffee shop or cafe to sit and chat.  The facilitator will hopefully use other resources to inform local atheists of the social gathering, such as newspapers and social networking websites.  An extremely important aspect of the facilitator’s duties will be to constantly work towards bringing new local atheists to the social gatherings, since there will inevitably be turnover in the group.

Some other examples of social gatherings might include theme parties, picnics, sporting events, dramatic theater performances, fundraisers that double as social gatherings, weddings, memorial gatherings, coming out parties, graduation parties, and secular holiday parties and celebrations (for example, Winter Solstice or Darwin Day).

The facilitator of the social gathering will be in charge of inviting local atheists to the gathering, and will also make sure that the logistics are planned well and taken care of.  The amount of work required of a facilitator will of course vary according to the type of gathering and the number of people expected to attend it.  For example, one would expect that a wedding with five hundred guests would be much more work and need more time to plan than something like a group of ten people going to a soccer (football) game.

A major goal of the ISS will be to bring local atheist communities together, and these social gatherings will be a vital part of reaching that goal.  The ability to meet other atheists and to enjoy regular gatherings will raise the morale of the atheist community considerably.  It will also help satisfy the psychological need of atheists to feel like they are socially integrated and accepted.  It may even make many closet atheists comfortable with coming out about their atheism, because they will have a nearby support network of fellow atheists.

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One Comment
  1. Hi Andrew, I have a couple of questions for you about this organization you are working on starting. 1) Why are you waiting for a year and a half? 2) What will this organization offer that American Atheists doesn’t (besides the obvious difference between American/International), and why is starting a new organization preferable to working with existing orgs?

    That’s all, keep up the good fight!

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