Rick Martin, one of the founding members of the group — formed in 2007 and now possessing
300 or so members (including me, who manages to get to almost none of the meetings) — was interviewed by the TU’s religion reporter.
The interview questions were neutral, neither supporting nor attacking, and Martin was able to say his piece in a non-adversarial atmosphere. For instance:
How can someone be moral without religion?
We reject the idea that someone cannot be good without God. We think that being moral has an objective definition for how you treat people. We don’t feel any deficit for not having an authority-driven definition of what is moral, We don’t see ourselves as outsiders or misfits. We are a group of happy, well-adjusted people.
So what does a group of atheists and agnostics do at meeting?
We do this for fellowship. We are social creatures, just like people of faith are. We want to have our own community, where the price of admission is not checking your reason at the door. Our meetings can have many different threads of conversation, from the Kalam cosmological argument (which asserts that something supernatural caused the universe to come into existence), to getting the kids back to school, to the latest outrage by Michelle Bachmann or Rick Perry working to intertwine the state into religious belief. Our group is politically diverse. While most tend to lean left, we have conservative members that tend to be libertarians. We are people who value individual choice.
Definitely a positive step along the way. The expectation is that membership will boom, simply because more people will know the group exists.
If you’re interested in getting up a group in your area, or joining a group already in existence, the Meetup organization is a useful (but not cost-free) way to connect.