January 10, 2010

Atheist Groups Still Growing

community.jpegAtheist groups in the community and on university campuses appear to be growing, both in terms of membership and in the number of new groups being formed. It is particularly encouraging to see such groups springing up in areas not traditionally associated with freethought.

Sara Anne Corrigan wrote a great article (update: link no longer active) for the Evansville Courier & Press about a freethought group at the University of Evansville (Indiana). The article focuses on the growth of atheist groups in the area, such as the University of Evansville Skeptical Society and Agnostics and Atheists Club of North High School. Evidently, five such groups have appeared in Evansville in the past year alone.

The article provides a nice introduction to the groups, their founders, and best of all, the reasons why such groups are necessary. For example, Tony Kiegel, founder of the Evansville Free Thinkers was quoted as saying,
There's a lot of discrimination. I founded EVFT because I wanted like-minded friends since people without religious beliefs face quite a bit of discrimination in our town.
And what is it that leads people to join such groups or form new ones in areas that do not already have them?
It's the sense of community that draws members, says EVFT member Kai Esty. Esty is founder of the emerging Freethinkers group at USI, where he is a graduate student.
I am quick to pick on the media for demonizing atheists, but it is equally important to express appreciation for positive coverage. I really appreciate Ms. Corrigan's article. It is nice to read about atheism in as unlikely a place as Indiana.