Atheists in Idaho Get Press

***Update***: I forgot to link to this video featuring Lew Payne, organizer of the Boise Atheist, Non-Theist, and Humanist meet-up group.

You’ll never see an article where the subject is “Christians have a place to meet!”

But when we’re talking about atheists — in Idaho — the fact that there’s coverage isn’t all that surprising.

When people find out Susan Harrington is an atheist, they’re surprised. Not just because Harrington, of Nampa, doesn’t believe in God, but because she doesn’t believe in God and she’s normal.

“I’m not someone who likes to throw it into people’s faces because it’s a shocker,” Harrington, 47, said about her atheism. “The first thing they say is, ‘Oh, you’re so nice.’ ”

[David] Bohart said during much of his life it was hard to find information about atheism or find other atheists. But he said the Internet changed that.
The Nampa group wants to offer a community for young atheists, too, [Art] Rigsby said.

“A lot of kids take a lot of heat because the don’t believe,” Rigsby said. “Younger kids really feel like they’re out there by themselves. Hopefully we’ll give them a feeling that, hey, you belong to a community and people care about you.”

The Idaho Press-Tribune linked to the article on Facebook, and the first few comments give you a sense of what atheists there are up against:

Not very promising… but it’ll make you feel better to know that there are a *ton* of atheist groups in the area. Here’s a snapshot of the larger ones I could find. If you’re living in the state, consider checking them out!

Boise Atheist, Non-Theist, and Humanist Social (Meetup)

Idaho Atheists, Inc.

Humanists of Idaho

West Valley Freethinkers (Meetup)

Boise State University Secular Student Alliance

Secular Student Alliance at College of Southern Idaho

Secular Student Alliance of Idaho State University

Freethought Moscow

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Matto the Hun

    I’m glad those people posted what they did.* It only confirms for me how divisive and hateful religion is at it’s core. I’m thankful for not having my mind enslaved by a hateful death cult,

    *Aside from Roxanne who’s comment was thought, fair, and even though the “I will pray for them” line is condescending and annoying, it’s a small thing and well intentioned.

    • Tom

      Is it really so well intentioned, MtH?  Consider what those prayers are actually asking god to do.

      • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

        And what exactly are they asking? And how do you know? It could simply be they’re asking God to show himself, prove himself, to the atheists. How is that a bad thing? If such a being exists, I’d like to know. It could also be that she has a misguided view that an atheist can’t know beauty or joy without God in their life, and that she’s asking God to bring some joy into their lives. While misguided, I don’t see how that’s a bad thought. 

  • Anonymous

    “When people find out [insert name here] is a theist, they’re surprised. Not just because [insert name here], of [insert place here], believes in God, but because she believes in God and she’s normal.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/keithacollyer Keith Collyer

      In the UK, that is the more common thing to happen. I’m constantly amazed by how normally some believers act in most things outside their religion (even the former colleague who became a Mormon with his wife)

  • Anonymous

    Wow, those are some close minded comments. Almost parodies. 

    The funny thing is, you could turn each one around and almost say the exact same thing about believers (if you were that type of person.) “What a waste of energy.” Do they really look at other people in long prayer services from other religions and think, “What a great use of their time!”

    They believe in a myth without good reasons and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • http://twitter.com/ksattler ksattler

      Your comment would suggest that your mind is equally closed.  ”They believe in a myth without good reasons…” tells me that even if the reasons they have are excellent from their perspective, you wouldn’t agree or consider changing your position on whether that myth might be truth.  

      Therefore, I completely agree with you when you say, “you could turn each one around and almost say the exact same thing” as I am certain they think atheists “believe in a myth without good reasons”.

      • Anonymous

        May I point out that “excellent from their perspective” does not mean “excellent”?

      • Denis Robert

        Tell me exactly why they believe their myth? They can’t do it. The best they’ve ever been able to do, is give reasons (for the most part easily debunked) why they believe there is *a* god (such as the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, and other such nonsense). But they have never been able to give a cogent reason why they believe in THEIR god. Well, other than “The Bible Says It. I Believe It. That Settles It.”.

        And if you consider that a “good reason”, well: I have some prime waterfront land in Arizona to sell you.

      • ed-words

        A myth is defined as a “traditional story”
        How can that apply to atheist beliefs?

  • Bonnie Taylor

    I totally support the idea of having a place where atheist kids can feel accepted. My first week of first grade, a girl asked me if I believed in God. I did not know what “God” was, so I said no. She ran off to tell all the other kids and soon I became excluded, bullied, and teased by pretty much the whole class. How I wished there would have been an atheist organization that my parents could have taken me to, so I could meet other godless kids and learn that no, I was not a bad person!

  • Sander Aarts

    The comments aren’t that bad. First one is just a silly joke, at least that’s how I see it. Second is meant well en the fourth comment is simply ignorant. Leaves two.
    Let’s not pretend it’s worse than it actually is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001294252319 Robert Ray

    I got the same reaction at work when I came out as an Atheist.  They couldn’t believe that such nice and helpful person could not believe in gods.
    I am also working with my Humanist group to create a youth group.  If anyone is interested in the model for their group the website is http://www.wittyhumanistyouth.org

  • EJC

    I was sent on assignment to Western Wyoming/Eastern Idaho a few years back (I’m a journalist). I was based in the alleged “progressive” town of Jackson, but made routine trips over to Idaho. Wyoming and Idaho make Alabama and Mississippi look downright progressive. I half expected to see blacks and jews strung up from trees there.

    And here I come, an atheist from southern California, driving a black Land ROver with Cali Plates and an Atheist “A” sticker on it. WOW, was I always worried when I drove the back roads and highways. I was rolling target, and yes, I was outright discriminated against and was subject to all sorts of rude and inappropriate comments (unsolicited too!)

    As a disclaimer, I am used to dealing with rednecks, as I lived in Alaska for 20 years before moving to Santa Barbara. That said, Alaska rednecks are so much different than Idaho and Wyoming rednecks. Idaho and Wyoming = the most intolerant and backwards states in the nation. 

    And if you think about at least Wyoming, this is the state where they beat a homosexual to death and strung him up to a fence post AND the state that gave us Dick Cheney….are we surprised!?

    • Abby

      I’m from Eastern Idaho and I think you may be exaggerating a bit. Maybe it doesn’t seem so bad to me because I’ve never lived somewhere like Southern California and I only talk about atheism if someone else brings it up first. When I tell people I’m an atheist there’s usually an awkward silence and then they change the subject. Sometimes people are condescending but I’ve never personally been threatened. 

  • Denis Robert

    I don’t believe in Christians. I think anyone who calls themselves a Christian is just trying to cover up the fact that they bugger little kids when no-one’s looking.

    (snark).

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

      Actually you could make a case for not believing in *living* christians. I’ve had plenty of christians tell me I was never really a christian. Because *obviously* if I had been a christian I would still be a christian.

      So until a person dies a christian you cannot know whether they are a *real* christian, or the kind of pretend christian I was…

      And since I was pretty serious about my faith you cannot even know whether you are a real christian.

      • ed-words

        I agree . . ., (I think).

  • ed-words

    Thomas Edison didn’t “believe in anything”?

  • Jesse

    I’ve copied this list of groups into a page at IronChariot’s list of atheist groups.  Feel free to add to it!
    http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Atheist_groups_in_Idaho

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

    I feel sorry for people who think atheists have nothing to live for, because that implies they are only living for their god, and their god is imaginary.

    So they have nothing. Whereas I have family, and friends, and a world filled with wonders.

  • Megan

    Wow… I had no idea these groups were in my city! Thank you for posting this link.

    • Art

      Megan, join us at the Flying M Sunday at noon for coffee and talk. Art Rigsby

  • paulalovescats

    Hey, no cuss words, no hell, nothing misspelled! Actually, they’re being pretty classy about it!!


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