What do you expect from an atheist organization?

What sort of benefits would make you join an atheist organization? What issues do you want them to address? Any feedback would be appreciated.

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Thank you for pointing this out, Jennifer and Mayokitty. I want to help out my community, but if it is through a religious organization it goes against my values; there must be a compromising step. I was very happy to hear that the Christian Children's Fund changed their name to not include religion. I would still like to know how much of the donations goes towards proselytizing.

See http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/mayweb-only/119-52.0.html

They quit proselytizing in the 70s.  The new organization is the old Christian Children's Fund and five other children's help organization under the new name.

I agree with your points here. Let me know if there is a separate thread to discuss these. if not, I propose we create one.
Good stuff guys, keep it coming.

Would you pay a small fee to join and help support the organization and its agenda if it covered your wants and needs?

Also, do you think any of our current organizations do a good job in meeting the needs of our community?

I have a problem with donating money now because I associate it heavily with churches. Honestly I feel like one of the reasons I'm atheist is so that I don't have to participate in organizations like that. I would be more than willing to donate my time, but not my money. I understand that it's going to important causes, but I still don't like the idea. I would elaborate but my opinion on this is more emotional than one coherent argument sadly.

Brendon - if you live in the United States there are two really fine 'organizations' (American Atheists & Freedom From Religion Foundation) that use your 'membership' dues to produce fine monthly newspapers which keep you up-to-date on all things atheist.

One very important thing these two organizations do is fight state/church problems. Forced prayers in schools - infringements of Christians attempting to put their 10-commandments in all public places/buildings etc. This often requires law suits on behalf of all non-believers to STOP these aggregious infranctions.

You're not 'donating' money - you are becoming a member of an organization that fights directly for you against god-believers who certainly want to assimilate you. (Borg)

One of these also publishes 'Black Collar Crime' listing all those priests and pastors that continue to commit pedophalia against minors. You are in the loop of knowledge.

Hi Viktor,

I'm currently involved in running a UK-based atheist organisation, and what I've found is that people want you to represent them in a neutral, intelligent way. The great advantage of organisations is they can square up to discrimination and aggressive religion in a way that individuals often can't. An organisation doesn't need to worry about being fired, or having its reputation in town ruined. When you consider especially the situation with atheists in the USA, organisations have a vital role in putting muscle behind people who feel they can't speak up or come out as atheists.

The organisation I work for is the AHS, which is a federation of university-based atheist student groups. Most of our groups charge a small membership fee for socials, debates, lectures, film screenings etc. They generally don't make a profit or anything - just enough to cover their running costs and limited promotion costs. On the charity front, one event that's been very successful is running Blood Drives at the same time as National Prayer Week. The Christian Unions are praying for the sick to be healed, but it's the atheists and Humanists who are actually out there giving blood. It's a massive PR coup every time.

The UK has fantastic representation for atheists in the form of the British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society and (if I do say so myself) the AHS. It's quite easy for us because of our smaller, more centralised society. A handful of organisations can respond easily to the various challenges and problems religion causes. The federal system over in the USA must make it difficult for atheist organisations to have national scope.

Are you looking to set up your own organisation? I'd love to hear your ideas!
>>>>>>>The great advantage of organisations is they can square up to discrimination and aggressive religion in a way that individuals often can't. An organisation doesn't need to worry about being fired, or having its reputation in town ruined.

Sometimes organizations do make compromises and sacrific some things that people would like to get done to get fewer done. It is always very important for people to group together and fight for things that get thrown aside.
There are too many organizations out there to be making more. We need to improve the ones that already exist.

I posted this question to learn more about individual needs and see where our organizations coming short. We have a lot of organizations, but yet not that many atheists join them.

AHS should definitely join AAI as a member organization =)
What's wrong with having several different organizations? In the Twin Cities we have Minnestoa Atheists, the Humanists of Minnesota, Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists, Atheists for Human Rights, a Skeptics Meetup group, and we've hosted conventions for American Atheists and the Freedom from Religion Foundation, in part because local support for those groups is so strong. One local is the Vice President of the Atheists Alliance International.

If you look at the Minneosta Atheists Group, look at the folder "Atheist Weekly E-mail -- a Calendar." You'll see that we have a much more active community than one group could support. For example, next week there will be a presentation by Richard Dawkins in Minneapolis sponsored by CASH.

How could there ever be too many atheist organizations?
"United we stand, divided we fall" is a great motto. The more division there is among us the harder it is to reach our objectives, even if they are the same.

Local groups are always good, but on a national level it's just getting too competitive. We have AA, AAI, FFRF, AHA, CFI, etc. Even though they might have a different approach, they're all trying to appeal to non-believing community. This is where the division comes into play. We get divided, competitive, and fight within our own community.

Nobody will pay membership to each organization, they will pick the one that they like the most. Some people might do that, but majority won't. This is where competition begins. Even if we don't say it, even if we don't believe it happens, it happens.

We are trying to reach out to the same "customers" to offer our "product" that supposed to heal the same issue. Advil, Alleve, Tylenol, they're all trying to stop pain.

It doesn't matter if you disagree or agree with me, there's still competition and that is our problem. Local groups are not part of this equation, they cater to targeted audience and not national or international audience. But, having more than one or two local groups might cause competition as well.

This is why only about 10% join any organizations. Might not be a scientific study, but AN's survey shows a good distribution of membership. What I want to see is equal distribution, which means that one atheist is a member of all national/international groups. That's unity.
Viktor, I wonder really what competition you are talking about. Are there instances of conflict among the groups that concern you? I know that there was some friction for awhile between American Atheists and the Atheist Alliance International during the years when both were holding conventions on Easter weekend. I know that when Margaret Downey became President of the AAI, establishing good relations with American Atheists was a high priority. At the American Atheists Convention last year, Margaret and Ellen Johnson seemed to be fast friends.

I’m a member of American Atheists, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and, as a member of an affiliate, I’m a member of the Atheist Alliance. I’m also a donor to the Secular Coalition for America. I don’t see any conflict with that at all, and there are many occasions in which they join forces with other groups, including non-atheist groups. It would be a devastating blow to the atheist movement in America if any of those organizations were to fold.

The atheist movement is growing rapidly in the US, but still most nonbelievers have never thought to join an organization. A lot of atheists are unaware that there are atheist organizations. Others just know about the groups that conduct litigation, and don’t see a reason or an opportunity to get involved. But for most atheists, local groups are the introduction to the national groups. There are too many people living where there are no groups to introduce them to atheist activism.


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