New York City Atheists Offer Meetings in Spanish

The New York City Atheists are trying to reach out to the local Spanish-speaking population by conducting services in their native language.

The meetings are small right now, but they’re growing:

[NYC Atheists president] Mr. [Ken] Bronstein said that the meetings were still relatively small, with about 15 members attending, but that there were around 50 people on an e-mail list. “We’re going to bust out pretty quickly in attendance,” Mr. Bronstein said. “We think there’s a major group of nonbelievers, atheists, in this community.”

Mr. Bronstein, who does not speak Spanish, said the meetings were directed by Juan Castro, an atheist from the Dominican Republic and the author of “Una Cruzada por la Humanidad,” or “A Crusade for Humanity,” a book that critically examines the world’s religions in Spanish.

What a great service to offer. Bigger churches do this all the time — they might have a few services over the weekend for the English speakers and then offer one additional service conducted in Spanish. The audience for those services are just as large as the others.

I would think Spanish speakers constitute a minority of atheists, but just like with all demographics in this area, the number is probably grossly underestimated.

I’m really excited that NYC Atheists are doing this and I hope their experience can eventually transfer to other big cities.

  • Trace

    Interesante.

  • http://sunombreenvano.blogspot.com/ Diego, El Mapache

    This is great. Spanish speakers have it usually very hard to express their lack of belief, since many times it is a tradition held very deep, along with the family and community. Therefore, if you leave your religion, you are almost denying being part of your family or community. That sucks for hispanics. Hopefully their numbers increase, churches with services in Spanish are way ahead.

  • sc0tt

    I was just reading a Spanish news site and saw this:

    El Vaticano invalida los matrimonios entre bautizados y no bautizados

    (Vatican invalidates marriages between baptized people and non-catholic-baptized people)
    LINK

    Haven’t seen anything about this in the US press. I wonder how many people are affected. One of the comments notes that de-baptism is much cheaper than a divorce!

    Merry Christmas!

  • Revyloution

    Yo quiro mas major Espanol parar ajudar los latinos en mi Puebla.

  • Tim Carroll

    Conducting services? Really?

  • Claudia

    Pues me parece estupendo :-)

    @Sc0tt the old rule was that practicing Catholics could marry non-Catholics in a sort of alternative ceremony. The ceremony (at least for marrying a non-believer) itself was ridiculous and IMHO, humiliating. The Catholic makes all the usual promises of faithfulness and god and all that stuff, and the other spouse sort of just stands there. It’s like marrying a mannequin.

    The site you got it from is Spanish (as in from Spain) and here what usually happens is that if they wanted to get married the non-Catholic would go through a ultra-fast “conversion”, where they’d get baptized and communioned shortly before the wedding. The Church knows naturally enough that a large proportion of weddings are merely because of the ceremony and the building, but they make a lot of money off of them so they turn a blind eye.

    This will only accelerate the fleeing of younger generations from the church, already well under way, at least in Spain. People are still attached to the ceremonies, but as time goes on and secular ceremonies become more simple and the Church less and less flexible, I hope some day (long after I’m dead) we can turn all our beautiful old churches into museums and schools.

  • Brian

    Ateos de habla hispana. Muy bueno!

    Being from South America I can say that we have deeply cultural roots from catholicism. However, I have seen over the past years a huge increase in made in USA protestant churches, probably because the dirty image that the catholic church carries now. I visited my hometown last summer and I went to book stores and I found that most christian English books from US are translated to Spanish, like Warren, D’souza, etc; and they take a lot of bookshelves. Au contraire, I could only find one Hitchens and one Dawkins. I also found two more non-believers authors Pepe Rodriguez (Spain) and Odifreddi (Italy) but they don’t have much publicity as the american christian writers.

    I guess, christian publishers have more money.

    Franklin Graham visited Bogotá last summer with his “festival de esperanza”, the place was packed as I can see in youtube.

    Fortunately I have also seen an increase in freethinkers; there are more Spanish atheist bloggers now. And we are vocal and proud.

    Atheism growing in Spanish is excellent news.

  • Valhar2000

    I wonder if the expression “Meapilas de los cojones” will be used during these meetings? If there are no plans to do so, they should be ammended with haste!

  • http://atheists.org Ed Buckner

    Bravo to the NYCity Atheists, Ken Bronstein, and Juan Castro. American Atheists will hold our 36th national convention in the greater NY City area (across the river in Elizabeth, near Newark Airport) and we’ll have one talk in Spanish and simultaneous translation into Spanish of another. Any advice on how else to reach out–alas, I speak no Spanish–would be most welcome: ebuckner@atheists.org

    I am in touch with a superbly bilingual Atheist, Indra Zuno, so advice in Spanish or English would certainly be welcome.

    “Ateos de habla hispana. Muy bueno!” Si!

    Ed Buckner, President
    American Atheists


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