The First Rule Of Atheist Club…

“Even when atheists make entirely peaceful, positive, seemingly uncontroversial statements in public forums, we still get vicious rhetorical attacks and threats. I think incidents like these prove that we can’t possibly be “nice enough” to win everyone over, at least not if that’s our sole tactic.”

The First Rule of Atheist Club is that you cannot be nice. No one can be nice. You’ll never be nice enough, so don’t try.

Second Rule of Atheist Club is that arrival tea, biscuits and fruit must be paid for via the Atheist Tea and Biscuit Kitty every second Wednesday, with at least a five dollar donation and your name clearly marked on the registrar list, which is kept behind Julian’s filing cabinet on the GREEN clipboard. The RED clipboard is for the Break-Away Coffee Faction, who have exclusive rights over the first servings of danish pastries and biscotti (any remaining pastries and biscotti after morning tea on the second Wednesday are available to all).

Third Rule of Atheist Club is consult the founding members of the Break-Away Coffee Faction for clarification on ‘not being nice’, as they are excellent with examples and even have impressive Presi presentations.

Fourth Rule of Atheist Club is that false dichotomies don’t exist. You’re either with us or against us (except in the case of the Break-Away Coffee Faction, as their Break-Away status is NOT a sign of division within atheism, merely a clever moniker that former President Smythe came up with and it’s stuck with us after four years of running the club).

Fifth Rule of Atheist Club is that we cannot spend time worrying about “perpetuating” the angry atheist stereotype as people are going to be mad at us all the time anyway and so it’s better to say that we’ve got fantastic reasons to be angry and just be angry first, even before anything has been put on the table for discussion.

Please note that the Union Hall is used by the Warambool Counselling and Group Anger Management Classes every second Tuesday, so remove any helpful tracts or flyers that they might place around the venue or on the pin boards before the Wednesday meeting. Addendum – make sure that the poster headed Reasons To Be an Angry Angry Atheist is NOT left up on the partition board after Wednesday meetings; the counsellors complained about it last year. Scroll it up neatly and put it behind Julian’s filing cabinet, with the red and green clipboards.

Sixth Rule of Atheist Club is NOT talk to media spokespeople. Religious people hold the power within all societies, are privileged, are proportionally at fault for the discrimination that we face due to their dominant numbers and have never suffered as much as atheists (NOT even at the hands of other religious groups, so don’t think we’re going to fall for that one) and particularly have NOT suffered as much as those who had to sit through hours of YouTube film nights with talking head monologues filmed with a hand-held camera. No media.

Seventh Rule of Atheist Club is no Atheist YouTube film night marathons unless ALL videos are of High Definition quality and use a tripod in their making.

Eighth Rule of Atheist Club is don’t park in the side parking bays at the Union Hall; it makes it difficult to enter and exit the rear parking area and we had an unforeseen truck delivery last semester and the management complained. There’s plenty of parking at the front and rear, otherwise take the 310 Bus from the downtown Warambool station and ask a helpful Atheist Club member to give you a lift back to the station after the meeting concludes.

Ninth Rule of Atheist Club is 80% Atheism / 20% Charity. We cannot waste time devoting ourselves to charity (see First Rule) and we must have a significant emphasis on the Atheist activism element (see Fifth Rule). Analysis of Atheism vs Charity allocation will be measured on a quarterly basis, with any additional monies left over from Charity donated to the Atheist Activism kitty (kept next to the Break-Away Coffee Faction tin). Remember there are NO limits or rules as to what constitutes effective activism and everything is up for consideration (except where it may contravene First Rule, Sixth Rule and especially Eleventh Rule)

Membership of the Atheist Club includes a Seasonal Holiday Atheist Club t-shirt (in choice of blue or grey) with “Don’t Think I’m Giving Because I Think I’m Better – I Know I Am” to be worn when running any soup kitchens, kitten rescues, flat tyres on the side of the road, or what have you.

Tenth Rule of Atheist Club is be friendly, happy and friendly, even as you’re angry. Because the Dominant Religious Oligarchy has Come To Represent The Repression In The System, being friendly and happy is apparently an impossibility for atheists – and so brightly yellow coloured flyers and orange t-shirts with cheerful (if angry) slogans are a must.

Look over the collection of flyers we’ve collected from the Warambool Counselling and Group Anger Management Classes for inspiration regarding slogans and catch-phrases – the 2011 Campaign “Have A Puppy, You Repressive Freedom-Hating Bastards!” was a particularly successful one. Please also consider purchasing via the club order form to get your copy of PZ Myers’ “Happy Atheist” for the next book club.

Eleventh Rule of Atheist Club is to make sure that receipts are kept in the correct colour-coded box in Julian’s filing cabinet for all tea, coffee and sundry purchases, as the Dominant Tax Office Oligarchy is an even greater threat to the club’s future and we don’t want a repeat of the ATO Inquiry of 2010.

Twelfth Rule of Atheist Club is to continue to be LOUD and NOT GOT RID OF. Negotiation and getting what you want will not be achieved by being silent (except in cases where it contravenes Rule Six, or the hiding of the Angry Angry Atheist poster in Rule Five) or being disbanded (see Rule Eleven) – refer to examples in history such as feminism, civil rights (even if you can’t name any popular figures in those fields or summarise their philosophical background in detail – also, avoid being filmed doing so as people might fact-check your references – we are NOT media spokespeople). See also Rule Four regarding the fallacy of ‘there’s some middle ground’.

Thirteenth Rule of Atheist Club is always clean the Union Hall at the conclusion of every meeting using the provided broom, dustpan and brush. Stack all chairs and wipe down the tables. Turn off all computers, coil up and PUT AWAY NEATLY the extension cord and kettle in the venue cupboard.

Place any additional food items in their labelled tins correctly and write CLEARLY the details of broken or misplaced items on the Chiddlingfold Joint Presbyterian / Baptist Union Hall whiteboard that’s in their Main Office next to Julian’s filing cabinet.

Fourteenth Rule of Atheist Club is don’t fight on Twitter.

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.


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