Atheists Wishing to Form a Community are Met with Roadblocks
Atheism is essentially a non-belief in God or any other similar deity. Millions of people consider themselves to be atheists. Despite this disbelief in a deity or Bible doctrines, many atheists seek community by wanting to join a fellowship. This can be a complicated desire when it comes to selecting a meeting place, a leader, and obtaining financial assistance.
Forming any type of organization requires money. Many non-profit or religious groups can apply for assistance through local government. However, to be deemed a non-profit, the group must be providing or performing a charitable service. Since atheism is not considered a religion, the group cannot (or is unwilling) to file as a religious institution. It’s unlikely atheists would not want to file as a religious institution, due to their lack of belief in religion and theological doctrine.
It’s therefore hard for atheists to meet in a formal setting – finding a hall or place where a large group can meet for free or low-cost is rather complicated. Even to meet at a school or park a group oftentimes must pay some sort of rental fee.
It is also difficult to elect a leader, and when one is chosen, what name to use to describe the person. They are not a pastor or minister. Every group needs a leader, so it is imperative that the person chosen is capable, strong and knowledgeable in the area of atheism. The leader will have to be able to speak intelligently about all aspects of atheism and theology, and also be a good listener, leader, and mentor to others.
The group will also need to determine the name of their “meeting.” Is it a service? Is it a meeting? Is it a class? When this is determined the group can choose if membership is open, closed and if children are allowed at all the group sessions. Will children have their own educational sessions? Will the organization be adults only?
These roadblocks make connecting with other local atheists in person quite a task, but let’s not forget the ease with which we can connect online nowadays – be it through Skype, message boards, Google+ Hangouts – there are free ways to discuss similar beliefs on the internet until the day it’s easier to connect offline.