8/30/09

Lessons From Florida Atheists

Florida's state quarter.Image via Wikipedia

I wish Ruth Morris (AFP) had found a different title for her recent article, Atheists on the march in America. Marching has a militaristic connotation to me, and this seems to be one of the last things of which most atheists can fairly be accused. Again and again, we see our fellow atheists spending almost as much time and energy attacking the idea of organizing as they do opposing religion. But regardless, I think Morris' article was excellent and contains some valuable lessons for those of us who like the idea of there being an atheist movement.

The article focuses on Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists (FLASH) and their rise from five members to an impressive group of nearly 500. Here are some of the things that stood out to me about FLASH and what they are doing:
  • They meet weekly.
  • They promote the events they plan (e.g., designing bumper stickers, etc.).
  • They picketed a prayer meeting held in a public safety building and supported with tax money.
  • The president of their groups receives regular hate mail, including some threats of violence, but perseveres anyway.
Even though a group of atheists this large has to be very diverse in their outlook, their goals, and the degree of activism with which they are comfortable, they somehow manage to come together regularly and make a difference in their community. I must confess feeling a sense of awe and even some envy of what they have been able to build.

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