It’s no surprise that organized atheism — conferences, Meetup groups, lectures — tends to attract people who aren’t exactly living in poverty. You have to have money to purchase tickets for a conference, meet people at a restaurant or bar (and pay for the food and drinks), or travel to hear a lecture. Campus groups may not charge a membership fee, but they serve those who have the ability to pay for college in the first place. Even writing a blog like this one isn’t really possible without either getting paid for it or having another source of income and free time. (Admittedly, some of the costs I’m talking about are, in large part, required for those sponsoring groups just to break even, but that doesn’t make it any more accessible for those without cash.)
That’s not to say atheists don’t care about the poor, but let’s face it: it’s a lot easier to be religious if you’re poor. We can joke about tithes all we want, but churches don’t charge entry fees to walk through their doors and many of them have the infrastructure necessary to help people who are hungry or homeless.
In a piece for AlterNet, Alex Gabriel suggests a number of sensible ways atheists can reach out to people who may not have a lot of money — because why atheist gatherings shouldn’t be geared only toward the well-off.