8/24/14

Mississippi Needs a Statewide Atheist Organization

Organization design
Organization design (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I started the Mississippi Atheists blog in 2008 to provide a place on the Internet for people looking for information relevant to atheism in the state of Mississippi. I figured that it might be helpful to have a central hub from which to could provide resources and support to Mississippi atheists.

I soon realized that the many limitations on my time and my lack of knowledge of what was happening across our state made me less than ideal to fulfill this goal. I sought to attract co-authors and turn this into more of a group blog. The idea was that we'd have a several atheists living in different parts of the state writing about their experiences periodically. This was successful for awhile, as we had several contributors. Unfortunately, none stuck around for long. By 2012, it was clear that this was no longer working as the group effort I had envisioned. I've evaluated and re-evaluated whether to close Mississippi Atheists many times, deciding in May of 2014 to keep it going for at least another year. My rationale is simple: the demand is there, and having something - even something flawed - seems better than nothing at all.

I think it would be great if we had a statewide atheist organization in Mississippi like one finds in many other states, a real Mississippi Atheists. But this is not it; this is just a small blog that is now down to one semi-regular author (i.e., me). If we had a statewide atheist organization, it would have active members and officers. It would hold meetings and events, facilitating collaboration between the few small groups we have scattered around Mississippi. It could promote atheism, educate the public, and provide an organized voice in our state. It might have people who were willing to publicly debate Christian apologists or talk to the news media about issues relevant to atheists in Mississippi. Perhaps it would even organize church-state activism, something that seems desperately needed here.

Admittedly, I am just guessing about what a statewide atheist organization would be like or what it would do. I know very little about how such organizations function in other states; I just know that I often feel envious of those living in states that have them. I have little idea about what is involved in developing something like that or how many people in Mississippi would join and/or participate if we had one.

When I am contacted and asked how people can join Mississippi Atheists, whether one of our representatives would speak at their event, or whether we are organizing activist efforts around a particular issue, I would love to be able to point those asking in the right direction. Instead, I have to explain that we aren't a group, have no membership or representatives, and are in no position to organize anything. I have to explain that "we" aren't even really a "we" because it is mostly just me. So yeah, it would be great to have a statewide atheist organization here in Mississippi.

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