Nice to meet everyone. I'm glad to have this site for a bit of venting and a bit of real non-theist community. Not that other places aren't just as nice, but this feels a little bit safer than saying these things on MySpace or one of the other more public blog spots. I used to have a journal online (before it got termed blogging) that I tediously updated, but I dropped the account a while back, and they finally got around to purging it last year. Not that it would make entertaining reading, as it was mostly for my family and friends and detailed my adventures in natural birth and raising my kids.
I can't help but comment that there has been explosion in secular groups in the past few years. The Dallas area atheist groups and associated freethinkers have gotten a lot more organized, and attendance is only going up in most of these groups as more and more of us feel stronger and more confident of our belief systems that do not involve the presence of supernatural entities in order to validate our beliefs. My local meetup is quite well attended now (although I haven't been to see them in a while because my ONE class last semester was the same evening as their meetup), and we've even begun a book discussion group (we met last night for the first time). We're reading Susan Jacoby's _History of Secularism in America_ (or something like that); I've only read a couple of chapters, but I'm a bit disappointed about how she starts off kind of in the middle of it. There's much more to American secularism that has its origins a bit earlier than that. And just skimming through, I don't see that she mentions Pragmatism at all, which is the philosophical movement that, in my opinion, has the biggest influence on the development of the scientific method and atheism in America. I could be wrong, though, since I haven't finished it yet.
I must admit, I am a bit insulated from the worst of being in epicenter of the Bible Belt, being smack in the middle of the most Jewish area of town. Let it suffice to say that if someone in *my* school district left Bibles "lying around" for people to pick up next to the principal's office (this actually happened in Plano ISD, just north of us) the people responsible would be fired the next day. Yay Jewish moms!
To be perfectly honest, I think that atheist communities could learn a lot by observing and learning from groups like this that are very effective in combatting the constant encroachment of religion into the public sector. I think I'll save that topic for another entry.