How Do You Get Atheists To Attend Your Meetings?

It’s always difficult, whether you run a college atheist group or an off-campus local one, to get people to attend meetings. It’s even harder to keep them coming back for more.

The Secular Student Alliance’s Campus Organizer, Lyz Liddell, offers suggestions on what atheist groups can do to get bodies in the seats!

The full list (with details) is at the SSA website.

More importantly, perhaps, is Lyz’s short list of what *not* to do if you want people to attend your meetings:

Ten Sure-Fire Ways to REDUCE Meeting Attendance!

  1. Keep your group’s existence secret (like a closed Facebook group), and don’t tell anyone about it unless you’re absolutely, positively, 100% sure they’re an atheist.
  2. Don’t tell anyone when your meetings are. Make the information hard to find, like posting it only on that closed Facebook group or an unadvertised website.
  3. Change meeting times and places every week.
  4. Holding meetings at times that are unlikely to work for people (i.e., during the school day, Friday nights, early mornings on the weekends, etc.)
  5. Hold boring, business-only meetings that are only of interest to the officers.
  6. Complain at every meeting about how people don’t show up.
  7. Give up after only one try of an idea.
  8. Stick with one idea even when it doesn’t work after several attempts.
  9. Decide before trying anything that no solution can possibly exist that will solve the problems your group is having.
  10. Refuse offers of help.

Are there other reasons you don’t go to atheist gatherings?

What advice would you offer to group leaders if they want someone like you to show up at a meeting?

(via Secular Student Alliance)

  • llewelly

    If PZ would loan out a few soldiers from his secret army of laser-armed cyber-squid, it would be easy to enforce attendance.

  • http://nomorehornets.blogspot.com The Exterminator

    What advice would you offer to group leaders if they want someone like you to show up at a meeting?
    Provide plenty of free Cheetos and Handi-Wipes.

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    Actually, atheism is not something I organize my life around. It is more of a consequence of my lifestyle.

    I am more likely to show up for a lecture discussing evolution, church and state issues, astronomy/cosmology, a discussion of a book, and the like.

  • http://perpetualdissent.wordpress.com/ Phil D

    I don’t go to atheist meetings for the same reason that, to use the famous example, I don’t go to a-stampcollecting meetings. So I guess my advice would be this: don’t just be an atheist group. Broaden the scope of the group.

  • http://t3knomanser.livejournal.com t3knomanser

    Um, because I don’t go to meetings? Of any kind?

  • Nancy

    I’m just not a joiner. I enjoy something special every now and then…an anti-war protest, a photography workshop; even an atheist get together…but as for making a commitment to meet every week or month, it’s just not something that interests me. I never understood the attraction of “fellowship” when I was a church goer. Actually that part of it was really a turn off.

  • Tony Boling

    I stopped going to my local one when I found out they were all Ayn Rand Objectivists.

  • TK

    The aviation industry is dominated by extremely Republican, extremely religious people. It’s career suicide for me to join any group that touts non-religion (the clubs we join go on our college transcripts). To start one would be even worse. The school I go to is one of the few non-religious colleges/universities that has an extremely conservative population so even if I go to a public meeting, I could be spotted.

    In fact, I’m contemplating removing all references to atheism and secularism from Facebook and everywhere else that there is a profile of me. I used to use my real name here but even that has to go.

  • Tony Pro

    Jeez. Maybe we need to offer an afterlife to everybody.
    If that doesn’t work we can always threaten them with burning alive forever.
    I’ve heard these tactics can be very effective.

  • Lindsey

    I am always interested in going to the meetings at my school, but I work a lot. The meetings are almost always when I’m at work.

  • Lexi

    So I tend to avoid meetings where I think people don’t care about fun, and care a lot about intellectual masturbation.

  • http://www.sheeptoshawl.com writerdd

    I spent many years spending my time at church meetings. I don’t need to do that now that I am not following a religion any more. I prefer to use my time on personal endeavors and socializing with friends and family. There’s basically nothing an atheist group can do to have me show up at their meetings. I don’t just don’t do meetings.

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    “So I tend to avoid meetings where I think people don’t care about fun”

    To me, talking about the latest popular book on evolution or cosmology IS fun.

    I think that this post hits to the heart of the matter: atheists tend to have fun in different ways and the sorts of things that we attend tend to be the sorts of activities that we enjoy; there is no one set type of activity that atheists enjoy.

    Those of us who join groups tend to joing groups that are centered around our favorite activities.

    Personally, I go to lectures, yoga classes, footraces, ball games and sometimes the film club’s “artsy” film series presentations.

  • SASnSA

    Did somebody mention herding cats? It’s the biggest weakness in the atheist community. Freethinkers are so diverse and independent, it’s hard to get us all moving together in one direction like sheep.

  • Indigo

    I don’t attend the meetings of the Carpe Diem club at my university for a number of reasons. One of them is the universal problem of having a busy schedule and no time to join a new organisation. Mostly, though, I feel it’s redundant. I’m a philosophy student and we have colloquia and philosophy cafes and so on for discussion; I could join any one of a dozen activist/charitable groups like Amnesty International or Students Against Poverty or the bike co-op; and I don’t feel a lot of need for atheist fellowship because most people I know either share my atheism or don’t care.

  • Erik

    Step 1: Don’t call them “meetings.” Try “atheist gathering,” or “atheist party,” or the cryptic and intriguing “atheist event.” Nobody wants to go to a meeting.

  • http://www.notsofriendlyhumanist.wordpress.com Mike

    People say they wouldn’t come to an atheist meeting, it’s too narrow, no point etc etc.

    What if it was a humanist meeting? That broadens the scope a little.


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