Bobbie Kirkhart is the past president of Atheist Alliance International and current president of Atheists United in California. She’s one of the nicest atheists you’ll ever meet and one of the best spokespersons for us in the media.
The Los Angeles Times‘ Patt Morrison interviewed Bobbie about the holiday season and we’re treated to some wonderful soundbytes:
Is this a great time of year or a terrible time of year to be an atheist?
It’s always a great time of year to be an atheist. The traditions of Christmas are almost entirely pre-Christian, so that’s not really a problem for us that some people are celebrating the birth of their god. We are doing what people have always done when the days are cold and dark — we look to each other for light and warmth.
They also talk about the Gap holiday ads.
The most telling moment in the interview for me, though, has nothing to do with Christmas:
How big is your membership?
Membership is still low compared to the number of atheists. We are by definition people who go our own way. On any fourth Sunday, when we have our meetings, you’ll find more atheists sitting in the pews of churches and synagogues than in our meetings. Society has sold the idea that religion is by definition good, that religion’s doing good things, and so people go for the socialization and the charitable events. People believe the church is doing good, and some are, of course.
I fear Bobbie is right about that. How many atheists spend their Sundays in church because they’re leading a secret life?
On another note, atheists aren’t “required” to join any national groups, but there is a benefit for everyone if you do, and I find it hard to understand why so many don’t.
When the media finds out there are a few dozen or a few hundred or a few thousand members of any group, they start to take notice. It happened when thousands of copies of atheist-themed books by the “Four Horsemen” were sold — and it happens when the billboards go up.
Even if there isn’t a local group by you that you want to support, there are several national ones you can become a member of from a distance. The more members there are, the more services the groups can offer, and that benefits all of us, including the silent atheists who for whatever reasons can’t come out just yet.