Don't Believe in God? So What or Now What?
Written by Diana Goods
We’re pretty excited over here at HAAM about the launch of our transit bus ad campaign. After a couple of years of planning and fundraising, it’s really satisfying to see our efforts come to fruition. Our goal with this campaign is to raise the public’s awareness about our group and to get the message out that it’s OK to not believe. If this is your first visit to this site, we’d like to extend a warm welcome to you and encourage you to look around and find out more about our group.
According to recent (2011) Stats Canada numbers, religious belief in Canada is at an all-time low. Almost one in four of us profess no religious belief. Those numbers are very encouraging to those of us who identify as atheists, agnostics, and humanists. Of course, we realize that not all of those people who claim no religion would identify with us. They may consider themselves spiritual or may simply have beliefs that don’t fall into any identifiable categories. Or maybe they have simply never found it necessary to categorize themselves at all. They may simply have no belief and live their lives without ever taking the time to think about it. If you’ve seen our bus ad and thought “Sure, I don’t believe in god, but so what?” then fine, carry on with your life. We’re glad you’re out there and would hope that you consider us your allies.
If, on the other hand, you’ve seen the ad and thought, “No, I don’t believe in god, now what?”, then maybe you’ve come to the right place. For those of us at HAAM, many fall into the “Now What” category. We are a very diverse group. Our experiences with religion cross a spectrum from former clergy to those who were raised with no religion at all. Some of us are out of the closet atheists, and some of us are more protective of our beliefs due to personal circumstances that may make it difficult to identify as non-believers. What we do share, however, is a commitment to building a welcoming community where non-believers can find support and friendship.
If you’re interested in having a group to socialize with, then you might want to participate in our monthly meetings, usually with a guest speaker and dinner. As atheists and humanists, many of us are interested in topics such as science, critical thinking, environmental issues, human rights, and atheist activism. We like to have lots of discussion and Q&A with our speakers. The socializing part is fun, too, and we’re certainly always up for a good laugh at religions’ expense.
For those who are more inclined to take an activist role in promoting the benefits of atheism and humanism and combating some of the harm that has been caused by adherence to some religious doctrines, there are opportunities to participate in events like outreach to the public at community festivals like the Morden Corn & Apple Festival, or the public forum we arranged on Bill 18. You could join one of our information booths with opportunities to reach out to like-minded people or to practise your debating skills with those who challenge our views.
As humanists, we also believe in giving back to and supporting our communities. This past year we have supported groups like Agape Table, Darcy’s ARC and helped make hundreds of sandwiches for the homeless with the group Lunches With Love. We believe hands that help are more powerful than hands that pray.
There are many other ways to participate with our group. Join in our conversations on Facebook, write a letter to the editor, or come out to our next Atheist Film Festival. Financial support is always welcome too. At the very least, think about what you do believe and why you believe it. And if it’s safe for you to do so, the next time someone asks, tell them what you believe. Atheism, to many of us, was just the beginning, but one that opened many doors for endless exploration and wonder. Join us. You are not alone.
Enter our CONTEST!
There are 3 prizes to be had: (1) first picture posted to our Facebook site gets an "A" pin from the Richard Dawkins site; (2) best natural shot, as chosen by HAAM exec, wins next year's membership, and (3) best doctored shot (bus screaming down to hell?!) also wins next year's membership. Stay safe out there while watching for the buses! Route numbers will be posted here soon.