You are not alone. You now have an atheist app.
So this might be the greatest thing you’ve ever come across or you might just roll your eyes. There is, of course, no real reason for you to use something like this and if you think you’d like to, there is no guarantee that you’re going to find what you are looking for. But the creation of this app is an indication that there is a need out there and, for all I know, it may be yours.
The United Coalition of Reason has created an app that will help you find local atheist gatherings. Yep. That’s the news. The question, of course, is whether it’s something you want eating up power on your smartphone. And even if you download and install it, there are lots of communities that don’t yet have atheist groups; UnitedCoR is sharing news of groups in only fifty metro areas around the world. That’s a whole lot of atheist groups getting together that aren’t being tracked and a whole lot more atheists who aren’t getting together at all.
Fifty metro centres worldwide
Even if you are lucky enough to live in one of the fifty metro areas (in Canada, those include Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver) where UnitedCoR’s app is tracking atheist groups, you’ll need to do some leg work. The sad truth may be that the group you head out to is filled with the last sort of atheists with whom you want to spend time. If you just want to get together to slam religion, there are probably a lot of groups out there who will relish you joining in the ridicule. Too many atheists have expressed frustration to me about the groups they have attended where they may have been warmly welcomed but in which most of the energy of the group’s members is put into the same arguments against religion that we have all heard before.
Who’d want to spend time with angry atheists?
I sure wouldn’t.
Unfortunately, atheists who hate religion have drawn the caricature by which atheists all over the world are all too quickly classified. Even some of my colleagues make that assumption about me and are so happy with it, they don’t bother reading anything I’ve written or reaching out to get to know me.
The reality is quite the opposite, however. Most atheists are lovely people for whom religious belief is simply not important. Perhaps if religious communities didn’t use the exclusive language that has defined them and focused instead on the off-label benefits of religion – increased well-being, rich and rewarding relationships, the building of a meaningful life, a sense of interconnection with the rest of this amazing world – even atheists might find reasons to be part of what’s happening. Maybe UnitedCoR’s app would be blinking with opportunities the world over. (If you’re in Toronto, UnitedC0R’s app will let you know about the Meetup Group, Atheist Community of Toronto run by my friend, Jaime Loo. Be sure to check it out!)
Of course, creating community beyond the beliefs that divide humanity is exactly what has happened at West Hill and is happening at Oasis communities across North America. There you will find five simple principles guiding the gathering which bring together people across widely divergent demographics: People are more important than beliefs; Reality is known through reason; Human hands solve human problems, Meaning comes from making a difference; Be accepting and be accepted. If we all lived that way, what a difference world we would now live in. You can find an Oasis community through the Oasis Network website and we’re working on getting on the app, too!
So. if you’re in a major city or thinking of visiting one, go ahead and download UnitedCoR’s app and check our an atheist group. My hope is you will find a welcoming, engaging, and stimulating community that helps you meet all the deeply human reasons we seek one another out.