The article by Lyndsey Teter starts out nicely. We get a quick mention of baby-eating. Twice:
“People think that because we don’t believe in God, we’re immoral, or that we’ll eat your babies,” said Ashley Paramore, board member of OSU’s chapter of the Secular Student Alliance.
Not only do atheists refrain from munching on infants, Paramore said, but they’re pretty regular — even friendly — folk who aren’t evil or inherently different from their more-spiritual counterparts.
(Quick note: Ashley’s not a board member of OSU’s chapter of the Secular Student Alliance — she’s a board member of the national SSA. The SSA has affiliate chapters, but they have their own separate officers. That’s harmless enough, though.)
Paramore’s theory proved unfortunately true at the nation’s first Coming Out Party for Atheists held Saturday in Westerville. Uncomfortable potlucks, less-than-dynamic speeches, weird bumper stickers and ritualistic expressions of unshakable beliefs were all a part of the inaugural gathering.
Now we have a couple problems.
“Unfortunately true”? I assume this is sarcasm, judging from the article’s headline, but the sarcasm doesn’t come through in the article itself.
“Less-than-dynamic speeches“? I spoke at the event! (That’s it, Teter, you’re going down.)
After that, however, she did nicely express what many atheists were thinking:
“If you announce to a room full of people that you’re an atheist,” the reaction can be a bit icy, said OSU student Daniel Merrit.
“A lot of people have been waiting for some event like this to come along,” said Alexander Loeb, a 31-year-old Columbus resident and atheist.
“It’s like being in the Matrix — only there’s no Morpheus,” he said of converting to atheism. “You’re plugged in to the truth, but you’re sort of left standing there by yourself.”
Mehta, who blogs at friendlyathieist.com, offered to the group of 100-plus some practical tips on how they can best learn from their Christian counterparts, including the realization that atheists take themselves too damn seriously.
“We could use more self-deprecating humor,” he said, adding that it wouldn’t hurt to take a page from those who are morally against birth control.
“We need to breed more atheists,” he said.
(This is a joke, by the way, poking fun at fundamentalist Christians who always seem to have ginormous families.)
Regardless, Mehta was impressed with the turnout. He said often times, it’s difficult to organize such events in liberal colleges because “people know where to find other atheists.” But in places like Columbus or Kansas, for example, the needed exposure might help atheists fill some gaps in their movement.
“We find that there are a lot of people in their 20s and younger, or their 50s and older, but you won’t find many in the 30 to 40 range,” he said.
“A lot of people fall back into religion when they have families,” because churches provide many services and an established community.
“We’d love to be able to get together once a week, and have a room where the kids can play safely while the adults sit and talk,” he said.
“We’d love that. But we’re not there yet.”