It was New Year’s Eve and I was in over six beers. We had friends over, kids from my son’s school and their parents. The conversation was fantastic (at least, what I can remember of it) and in the back of my head, the thought kept popping up, should I tell them?
For the most part, people around here don’t care what your religious beliefs are. They don’t care if you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, atheist or Zoroastrian. No one ever asks, save for the Jehovah’s that pop by now and then, and even if they did ask, and I said I was atheist, it wouldn’t change what they thought of me.
But telling them that I have a blog and social spaces called Godless Mom from which I ridicule and criticize religion daily? That’s a whole other thing. Most people wouldn’t care to ask why I do it. They’d just recoil because it doesn’t fit into their Stepford view of the world, where we are cordial with each other and avoid politics and religion in our conversations like it would trigger Armageddon. Most people wouldn’t care to learn that I am motivated by the eventual normalization of atheism in parts of the world where it’s dangerous to be godless. They wouldn’t take a moment to hear that I do this because so many people write to me daily and say that it helps them cope with being shunned, excommunicated, kicked out, disowned, victimized and hunted. Not many people would stop to hear that I do it for the murdered atheist bloggers in Bangladesh, the locked up secular bloggers like Raif Badawi and my friend Mubarak, who endured commitment to a mental hospital and physical abuse because he told his Muslim father he no longer believed in God.
Most people would just step back, decide I’m not worth the time and that would be that.
So, telling someone in real life that I do this is, to me, a huge leap. It says that I have developed a deep respect for you and I trust that you are capable of handling this information like a rational and reasonable thinker.
With moments to go before midnight and a full tank of beer greasing my wheels, I told my friends I was Godless Mom. I was pretty sure they’d be okay with it, and I was right. It didn’t bother them. They told me they were agnostic, but it doesn’t matter to me. Had they told me they were Mormons, I’d still like them just as much.
It turned out well but it got me thinking about finding more atheist friends. Not because I like atheists better, or prejudge the religious – it’s because it just makes it easier to feel I don’t have to hide this huge part of my life.
It’s not easy where I am because no one ever talks about it, and you really don’t want to be the one bringing it up, you know? I started to wonder how I can find atheist friends without disrupting the relationships I already have. Then, this morning, I found an awesome email from a reader jammed in my spam box and he asked,
I would just like to meet more people like me and that has similar views to my own. If you knew how to get in touch with people like that locally… or just how to get in touch with in conversate with people through telephone email
So, it’s time to finally tackle this issue. How do we find friends who are atheists without bringing it up in conversation every time we meet someone? I compiled a few ideas:
Post to your local Facebook groups – A user in my Godless parenting group on Facebook, Godless Parents, posted recently that she finally worked up the nerve to ask in her local Mommy Facebook group if there were any atheist moms out there. She got a great response and was pleasantly surprised. Not all communities are going to have a similar response, so whether or not this is the route you choose should be dependent on what your community is like. It seems like a reasonable enough way to find like-minded people locally though.
Skeptics in the Pub – If you’re like me and you love a frosty pint of hops from time to time, you might check out Skeptics in the Pub. It’s a night out at a local watering hole with other local skeptics and it happens all over the world. You can see if you’re close to any of these events by searching Google for your area and “skeptics in the pub”. You can also check out the website, although I can’t vouch for how up-to-date the information is. Click here.
Meetup.com – the search words atheist, skeptic, freethinker and humanist will show you if there are any scheduled meetups within a certain distance from where you are. You’d be surprised how many places have regular meetups for heathens.
Find local secular organizations – Where I live, we have the BC Humanist Association, of which I am a proud member. We also have the Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics & Humanists Association. Make use of Google to locate the groups near you.
Secular Student Alliance – this organization has a page up on its website with listings of local secular groups for students. Check it out here.
Forums – Think Atheist is an excellent example of a forum where you might be able to reach out to people locally.
Agnostic.com – Set up like a dating site, but easily used as a tool to broaden your community, Agnostic.com is for agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, skeptics, humanists and really anyone who is open to meeting those types.
Social media – getting active and openly atheist on your social spaces will help you draw local people who feel the same way you do about religion. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit all have massive atheist communities that could yield some friends close to you. Be sure to include “ex-Muslim” or “ex-Mormon” or whatever “ex” might apply to you in your searches online.
I want to know if you’ve found another way to meet atheists locally. Also, have you tried any of these methods? Let me know how it turned out in the comments.
As for me, I hope I find the cajones to out myself as Godless Mom to the rest of the people I know around town soon. Will keep you posted on how it goes!
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