OKCAtheists: Best atheist group ever.

Jen, over at BlagHag, has recently started graduate school in Seattle. Apparently, despite being in a hippie liberal city, Seattles atheist meet-up has a lot of the same problems as other atheist groups– small, few female members, and too many of the people who do show up are assholes.

Ive dealt with small groups before (theyre fine, its just most groups always want more members) and low female numbers (“HI! IM THE TOKEN GIRL!”) too, as well as being the only member under 40, and the victim of ‘atheist politics’. The incident with ‘atheist politics’ put me off of doing anything for any atheist group for years (I have *never* been more offended or felt more used in my entire life) (but the wonderful experience I had with the Texas groups has happily warmed me back up a bit).

How do atheist groups avoid this sort of thing? The generic problems of numbers and women and diversity, plus worse problems like sexism, infighting, politics, and financial fights?

You know who you should ask?

OKCAtheists.

Im pretty sure we are the best atheist group in the country.

We have a ton of women in our group. Young ones, old ones, and every age in between.

Tons of guys, of every age.

People of different ethnicities.

People of different sexualities.

Weve got so many young parents, we actually had to form a ‘Secular Parenting’ spin-off group.

Every month we have numerous activities, from movie nights, to outings to the Zoo or a local museum, to pizza parties, to house parties, to bar nights, to bowling nights, to volunteering at the food pantry, to podcasts/blogs, to volunteering/participating in charity walks/5Ks, to book clubs, to our newest activity addition: lectures from local scientists/MDs/mathematicians/etc on skeptical topics. And like, 40 people show up to these events.

If anyone did to me, what happened to Jen, I can think of at least a dozen people who would have spoken up for me (to put it mildly– I think some would have freaked out, hard-core). The only ones who Im not sure would speak up or not are just new people I dont know well yet. I certainly dont know of any member who would have been the aggressor, much less three.

Maybe its because we are in Oklahoma. We are aware of the fact we are ambassadors for atheism, and must be on our best behavior. And this is our only atheist group– we are an island in a sea of insanity. If youre a dick and make yourself unwelcome in this group, youre kinda on your own. Honestly, thats good incentive to play nice.

Or maybe its just because this group is, by luck, made up of genuinely nice people who want everyone to feel welcome and everyone to have a good time.

But I definitely think a large part of OKCAtheists awesomeness is our current Pres, Nick Singer. He has *actively* cultured a positive environment. He has fantastic organizational, informational, and political/diplomatic skills, and knows when he needs help, and knows when he should pass the reigns. I have really been impressed with him, and proud of him (and the whole group).

OKCAtheists is the best atheist group ever.

Comments

  1. #1 BeamStalk
    October 22, 2010

    I wish I lived closer so I could attend more often. Hoping we get to do another day the science museum or zoo. Actually my gf and I are taking the kids to the Okc zoo for trick or treating on Halloween, probably Sunday night, but not sure yet.

  2. #2 Kemanorel
    October 22, 2010

    If there is a majority of males that act like that in those groups (I’ve never joined one), then it’s no wonder there’s so few females.

    I didn’t take much from my parents in the way of beliefs, but acting like a gentleman is definitely one that I really follow. There’s simply no reason to act like that.

    I’d've thought that sort of metality wouldn’t really exist among many atheists, but then again I guess I don’t have had any reason to assume that being an atheist dictates better behavior…

  3. #3 Strider
    October 22, 2010

    I’d like to have our collective memory refreshed on the “incident with atheist politics”.

  4. #4 Mike Caton
    October 22, 2010

    So OKC Atheists, tell the rest of us what you’re doing right! This would be an incredibly valuable contribution to atheists in the U.S. I’ve often said I’m jealous of atheists in Oklahoma and here’s one more reason.

  5. #5 Zachary Moore
    October 22, 2010

    I love what Nick’s and the rest of y’all have done in OKC, but I think the Fellowship of Freethought Dallas also brings TEH AWESOME.

    This weekend, we have a gaming night, a pub night, smooth jazz meetup, and a cookie party outreach. Next weekend, there are three Halloween parties to choose from (one as a charitable outreach to a nursing home), and next month we’re cleaning highways and lakeside shorelines. On top of which, we have a regular monthly gathering that brings 100+ people together of all demographics.

    And that’s just the FoFDallas. The rest of the DFWCoR groups have even more to offer: book clubs, activism, parenting groups, dinners, and coffeehouse meetups. Simply put, if you’re secular in the North Texas area, there’s no excuse for not having anything to do on any given week.

    Best,

    Zachary Moore, PhD
    Executive Director, Fellowship of Freethought Dallas
    Assistant Coordinator, DFW Coalition of Reason

  6. #6 SVN
    October 22, 2010

    Wow, I haven’t gone in ages. Sounds like the group is hitting on all cylinders on outreach. Nick is a very good organizer and leader, I’m proud that you guys are good ambassadors. The group also put up a very friendly billboard. Good luck to yall!

  7. #7 Brian
    October 22, 2010

    I imagine being in the middle of a highly Christian country has a lot to do with it. When you’re so clearly in the minority, you naturally band together. I’ve lived in Seattle for 20 years and I know very few people that would identify themselves as a member of an actual religion. (Most would call themselves either atheist or agnostic, and probably a handful who lean toward belief in some vague sort of woo-inspired universal energy.)

    PS: I just read Jen’s posts, and I half want to edit my comment so as to not admit to living in Seattle.

  8. #8 Scott
    October 22, 2010

    But when do you sacrifice the Christian child, before or after the meeting? Are you supposed to read it The God Delusion first? You must be doing something right…

  9. #9 DAM10N
    October 23, 2010

    Thanks for the kind words about the group.

    On an historical note, the group was founded by a young woman who worked at UCO. We almost never see her anymore, but the group has always been at least a bit feminist. Kimmy and Ellen K. played a major role in that.

    Anyway, I’d like to second your praise of Nick’s organizational skills. He has brought together a great team of motivated people.

  10. #10 Rrr
    October 23, 2010

    Yes, leadership is very important. Best if unobtrusive, as well as positive. Difficult but important.

  11. #11 Rhology
    October 25, 2010

    We have a ton of women in our group. Young ones, old ones, and every age in between.
    Tons of guys, of every age.
    People of different sexualities.

    Um, yes.
    1) Men.
    2) Women.

    Those would be 2 different sexualities. Others of us prefer to call them “sexes” or “genders”, but you know, whatever floats your boat.

  12. #12 Chris
    October 27, 2010

    I talked to Jen at the Seattle Skeptics Meetup in Sept. I guess we did not make that much of an impression. It was one of our smaller meetups, with no real agenda (Case often invites interesting people, like some LaRouche supporters).

    I hope to see her again.