Discussion: what has your local atheist group done for you?

I have a confession to make: it’s been more than a year since I’ve been to the meeting of any atheist group. I occasionally get e-mails from people saying they’re coming to Korea soon and want to know about atheist groups here, and I have to tell them I have no idea about them.

Why not? Well, partly, it’s because I’ve been so busy with other things, but partly it’s because among the English teachers, we’re mostly liberal 20-somethings (plus some liberal folks in their early 30s), and while not everyone’s a full-blown atheist, I’ve never felt out of place as an atheist here (though I imagine it’ll be different for military folks). I just don’t feel much need for it, given the (English-speaking) people here.

Similarly, the two cities I’ve spent the most time in since leaving college were Madison, WI (liberal) and South Bend, Indiana (conservative), and I was involved in atheist groups in both of them, including leading the Madison student group for a couple of years. When I discovered the Indiana group, it was a breath of fresh air in the conservative environment, and I got the feeling this was even more true for some of the members. The Madison group, on the other hand, more often than not was just a place to have nerdy discussions with like-minded people.

These are the sorts of thoughts that come to mind when I hear debates about what goals atheist/skeptic/humanist/whateveryoucallit groups ought to have. But, before I over-generalize from my own narrow experiences, I want to hear from my readers: what have your experiences been with local atheist groups? What have you gotten out of them?

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