July 18, 2010

We Need Secular Community Resource Centers

communityAlonzo Fyfe (Atheist Ethicist) has come up with a wonderful idea: secular community resource centers. While marveling at a massive mega-church near his home, he began to imagine what could be accomplished by using the money, time, and energy required by such a project to create something truly useful. How many times have you looked at a church and had exactly the same thought?

Alonzo's description of what a secular community resource center might be like sounds great. This sort of thing could be quite valuable, especially in smaller communities where there are few alternatives. Here are some excerpts from his post, accompanied by some additional thoughts:
It has a large lecture hall, with large televisions and an excellent sound system where people can go to see entertaining speakers talk about current events and how they relate to the lives of the people in the community.
Not only would such a great venue attract secular speakers, but it could be used for movie nights (e.g., Jesus Camp, Religulous, etc.) or live webcasts from atheist conventions.
Another department would be concerned with parenting. A third would be concerned with health issues - with collecting resources and providing assistance to members who have an elderly parent or a disabled child or family member to help care for.
The idea would be disseminating secular expertise to assist attendees with all sorts of life problems. I'd also love to see atheist support groups to help atheists navigate the complex challenges of living as an oppressed minority. Imagine the social and educational activities that could take place at such a center.

Sure, something so massive sounds like an impossible task. Alonzo recognized this and provides a follow-up post explaining how to get started with developing a center. I think you'll agree that it is more than manageable. And best of all, areas with functioning atheist groups already have a tremendous head start.

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