The New York Times has posted an incredibly positive article entitled, “More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops.”
The reporter, Laurie Goodstein begins the article discussing the surprisingly positive fallout (over 100 new attendees) the Charleston, SC group, Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry has received from their “Don’t Believe In God? You Are Not Alone,” billboard.
“And now parents were coming out of the woodwork asking for family-oriented programs where they could meet like-minded nonbelievers.”
The article goes on to describe how atheists are meeting online, attending local meetings, and beginning to speak out.
They are connecting on the Internet, holding meet-ups in bars, advertising on billboards and buses, volunteering at food pantries and picking up roadside trash, earning atheist groups recognition on adopt-a-highway signs.
They liken their strategy to that of the gay-rights movement, which lifted off when closeted members of a scorned minority decided to go public.
“It’s not about carrying banners or protesting,” said Herb Silverman, a math professor at the College of Charleston who founded the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, which has about 150 members on the coast of the Carolinas. “The most important thing is coming out of the closet.”
I must admit this part of the article is personally gratifying. Not simply because Atheist Nexus is at the forefront of networking nontheists, or because I have spent the past few years nagging my fellow nonbelievers to “come out” of their atheist closets. It is pleasing because it highlights the accomplishments of heathens living in the South.
Living in Atlanta, I am surrounded by closeted and fearful atheists (even leaders of atheist groups). It is quite frustrating and embarrassing. Personally, the more “out” I am, the more I find people others who believe similarly, if not just like, me. We all walk around fearful of being persecuted and ostracized by others who are timid for the same reasons.
The article goes on to highlight the wonderful Secular Coalition of America (which Atheist Nexus is proud to be an endorsing organization), the newly formed United Coalition of Reason, and our friends at the Secular Student Alliance.
The article ends with a meeting of Pastafarians at the University of South Carolina. It tells how members share their “coming out” stories, and stand at busy intersections holding signs reading, “Free Hugs” from “Your Friendly Neighborhood Atheist.” Hemant, you should have copyrighted the phrase. 😉