Hi All,

When I have performed music in my friend's Methodist church, (played not worshipped : ) I have always been struck by the social and economic support that churches give their members. There is the social network within the churches themselves, then there is the friendly rivalry and extended network support of other Methodist churches around our country. If a member of a congregation needs customers for his insurance company there is an instant potential client base from among his/her religious tribe. If a son/daughter needs money for an expensive operation or school trip, the congregation and extended church communities can contribute. In this original Facebook/ tribe/religious social network, surely any churchgoer who has doubts about the reality of Jesus/god/holy ghost would be hard pressed to leave such an advantageous environment? 

How can Atheism compete with that?

Tags: Facebook, church, leaving, pressure, social

Views: 40

Replies to This Discussion

Oh, I easily googled and found the BTB website....Yes, those prices seem to be reasonable. I would be suprised if the BTB would allow such advertising though. I mean, they wouldn't be able to use that bus for church picnics and I bet some drivers would refuse to drive them.... wow, that would really stir the pot...

'old on, stop the press my fellow Barbadian Atheists, on a whim I visited the Barbados statistical service and found the following page....they don't seem to give a year, but this is very interesting

Population Distribution by Sex & Religion
Religion Male Female Total
Adventist 5989 7737 13726
Anglican 32240 38465 70705
Baha'i 79 99 178
Baptist 1942 2747 4689
Bretheren 646 954 1600
Church of God 2031 2935 4966
Hindu 430 410 840
Jewish 53 43 96
Jehovah Witness 2005 2897 4902
Methodist 5299 7366 12665
Moravian 1387 1965 3352
Mormon 89 125 214
Muslim 882 775 1657
Pentecostal 18686 28040 46726
Rastafarian 2245 614 2859
Roman Catholic 4492 5951 10443
Salvation Army 417 640 1057
Other Christian 7243 9366 16609
Other Non-Christ. 667 626 1293
None 28391 14854 43245
NR 4713 3475 8188
Total 119926 130084 250010

A very interesting debate. I have been thinking a lot about these things after my trip in the Caribbean and the many discussions I had. I was recently listening to a lecture by Dan Dennet online where he pointed out the contrast between the top down approach of religion and the bottom up approach of the atheists and secularists. I am thinking we need to take that bottom up approach and start with some small support groups in the islands to empower those that are actively questioning but may be worried about coming out and declaring their doubts. I know this is being done informally and through online forums such as this. This, I believe, is movement in the right direction.

I think just expressing our views in a non threatening setting to friends and families can help to get our views seeping into society without being seen as  "hitting them over the head." Once we have some momentum behind us we can then look at becoming more formalised and consider ads on buses and such. I agree that the main thing we need to do at the moment, is to remove the demonisation of those of us who don't believe in God. I want to emphasise though that even though this may not be the time for bus ads I do think there are times when you have to be not afraid to stir the pot.

I think the 'do good' idea is also interesting. It could help to establish an association in the public with atheists that is not totally negative. In Barbados and the Caribbean I have actually not heard the word 'atheist' used very often and therefore many people may be simply ignorant about what the word really means. Hence there may be an opportunity to develop a positive (or at least nuetral) connotation to the word before it becomes entrenched in Caribbean language. I tend to think the phrase " I am an atheist" is less threatening in the Caribbean than the phrase " I don't believe in God."

So calling ourselves atheists without emphasising our lack of belief might be an idea. We can just say that we are a group of atheists interested in promoting education, health, social rights etc and focus on the actions rather than the lack of belief. I am still thinking this one through though, not sure if in practice the word atheist will still be like a "red flag to a bull." However, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised that with just one exception, those who I shared my atheism with in Barbados seemed generally curious about it and were at least willing to give me an ear and try to understand more.

 

Let's hope these are good signs. Glad for the dialougue.

Thanks for your comments Caribatheist,
I agree that support groups undertaking "do good" activities might be the way to go.
Would "humanist" be a better description for the group you are thinking of? Humanists seem to come in theist and non-theist flavours. Here is a link to the British humanist association in Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Humanist_Association.
It's interesting to note that the bus campaign was started by a journalist and then supported by the British Humanist Association. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Humanist_Association#Atheist_B...

I was excited by the number of people who indicated no religion in the statistical data that I posted above. If that information is accurate, it means that the third largest group of people in the religious population distribution are non-theists. At over 43,000 that's quite a few more than I thought existed here.
Yes I too found that statistic quite interesting. Not too familiar with 'humanist' have to investigate.

excellent thoughts, my impression is that it is a human thing; that is "conquered" peoples are vulnerable to a strong message from the conquer. this happens all over the world. It does not have to be a outright military conquest , even though that works best.  the impact of a bigger stronger (economic) society on a lesser developed or weaker.  all kinds of examples from the phillipeans to south america to the african diaspora and africans on the continent . they all believed in some previous supernatural idea and a bigger stronger supernatural idea came along  so they simply transferred allegiances.

to me that is another reason to reason there is no god, people will believe anything is you haave enough power!!!

Throughout history religion (of the conquer) and conquest (or colonialism) proceeded hand-in-hand. Violence, intimidation and religion are just tools of subjugation.

I've had some initial discussions with the Foundation for Freedom From Religion who do bus campaigns in USA. But as others had said, it needs some local grassroots support, etc. before being embarked upon.

Yes, I'm looking into humanism as well, there's a lot to read about it.

Maybe one day I'll see a bus with atheist advertisements passing me as I drive down the street, I hope I won't run off the road in my excitement :)

The American Humanist Association launched an amazing ad campaign in 2010, its here

http://www.considerhumanism.org/

I think the juxtaposition of biblical and humanist quotes is very provocative but not disrespectful

While grazing on the internet I took a quick look at the University of the West Indies' websites hoping to catch a glimpse of an atheist or humanist student group or society..... no luck. Lots of religious ones though!

Hi all, I found the following info while web wandering, it's from the The atheist Community of Austin

http://www.atheist-community.org/faq/#start-a-group

It seems to be some good advice:

Q: How do I go about starting an atheist group?

A: The very first thing that should be said is that it's not that difficult to start your own group. The ACA got its start because a local person put an ad in the paper for atheists to meet at a bag.... With the Internet, starting a group is even easier than it was when the ACA was started in 1996.

Here are some suggestions for what you might do:

  • First, see if there are other groups in your area. Don't duplicate the effort of starting a group if there's one nearby. If there's not, you can use your search to see what other groups are doing and whether your new group might have common interests with them, such as tackling church-state issues in your state.
  • Start small. Put an ad in the local paper or use Atheist Meetup to have mixers. Use these events to find some other people who also feel serious about building an organization.
  • Don't underestimate the importance of community. Most atheists will be grateful for having an opportunity to make like-minded friends. It's an important service just by itself. Having a community of friends will allow some of those people to become vocal and more likely to embrace activism. Community allows people to learn from each other and grow. Building community takes time, but it might be the most important benefit of your group.
  • Start and maintain a web site. They're not terribly expensive and there are lots of people with web skills these days. The web site can be the place where you connect to your people and start to build an identity.
  • You can do a lot without incorporating. There's no need to rush in defining an identity, charter, or getting a tax exemption. Many of these things are not important until there starts to be money involved or your group has established its identity and purpose. A great deal can be done with an organization with a limited budget and a little ingenuity. The ACA has been meeting at restaurants for years, for example. Our lecture series is done without money exchange. Our TV show is done with a minimal budget.
  • Pace yourself. Most volunteer organizations suffer the fate that the most enthusiastic people try to do too much and burn themselves out. Think about maintaining your pace for at least 5 years. That will give you time to find others who can take on responsibility and eventually the reins of your creation. Sharing responsibility is part of building community. It's the only way to do something big.
  • Pace your group. It's much better to do a small number of projects consistently and well than have a large number of half-baked efforts that stress everyone out and don't add up.
  • Think about your group's public image. Once you have a social structure in place, you should think about doing one or more projects that are visible to the surrounding community. This can be a public lecture series, a debate, a school library book drive, or street pick-up. Projects like this will help your group in a number of ways. They can help build community within your organization and they help make your larger community more aware that atheists are good people, too.
  • Network. As your group gets stronger, network with other groups on common causes--even if you disagree on many issues. Church-state separation is a great example. Many minority religious groups "get" the importance of church-state separation. There's no reason why atheists can't work with them to achieve this worthwhile goal.
  • Tout your successes. If you have a success (even a partial one), be sure and let everyone know about it. Write it up on your web site. Similarly, keep a history of what you're doing so that someday, people can look back in awe at how much you accomplished and how you've made a difference in the world. When you need a little boost, go back and take a look at it.

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