Thursday, April 26, 2012

Coming Out

Written by Brigitta

Childhood experiences taught me early on that there is no god.  I tested the limits of the Catholic religion that I was born into and as a result grew up fearless of the dark, of things that go bump in the night and of imaginary beings.  Santa Claus was the easiest when I pulled his beard to reveal the face of a neighbor.  I learned catechism and attended church as required. There was no body of Christ and I didn't go to hell after spitting the tasteless wafer into my hand.  There was a simple joy of learning for learning sake.

My attempt at learning about other religions was misconstrued as a search for god.  It was important to understand what religion is and how it works. Once understood, it loses it’s effectiveness.  My intent was to deal with the unrelenting religious propaganda and faith based, circular and irrational arguments that would label me an outcast.  My lack of faith turned into it’s own irrational belief that threatened to cost social ability, connection and autonomy.  Observation taught me that my atheism would cost me my career.   When I questioned my ‘born again’ brother about his beliefs he chose to end our relationship.  Another desperate family member lectured me about god, trying to save me from the pain of eternal hell fire.  In my growing circle of atheist friends, none dared to express their views on religion openly.  All marked their religion ‘box’ as ‘other’. 

In my opinion, the faithful and atheists have one thing in common.  We are all held down by the relentless propaganda system of organized religion and their constant re-enforcement to prevent us from pursuing our own interests instead of the self serving illusion of the church.  The religious must be told every day what the story is – the value of religion or they will turn to seeking an alternative to becoming more human, compassionate and connected to a concern for others and the planet.  Religion is based on a belief that we are relatively powerless. Churches freely exploit the freedom of speech for their own ends and very consciously and professionally manipulate people away from critical  thinking by controlling the perception of reality.

Like the comfort of returning to a prison cell, some return to the old time fables when facing their mortality because stepping into the beautiful light of reality is in conflict of deep, unresolved childhood fears of the boogie man, that were put in place to serve as the scaffolding for believing the unbelievable. It takes courage to step into the light.  But the rich reward of freedom, knowledge and fearlessness may be similar to being born again.  This time, without original sin. 
You are not alone.  We are leaving a light on for you.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Survey Results

If you're on our email list, you should remember recently receiving an invitation to participate in our survey.  Our group has grown significantly over the course of the past two years, and we wanted to take the opportunity to find out what sort of things our members and supporters need and want from this organization.

The results are in, and in case you missed our last meeting, we're posting them here for you to check out:

Demographics
55% of respondents were female, 40% were male, and 5% did not identify as male or female.
 
Eight of our respondents were less than 50 years old, and 15 were over 50.
 

Participation
 
 79% of respondents read articles posted on our website at least some of the time.
  
69% of respondents participate in our general monthly meetings at least some of the time.

 

57% of respondents participate in social events at least some of the time.

  
Preferences and Insights

Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday are preferred meeting and activity days.


 Community service was the top priority for group activities, followed by guest speakers and discussion groups. 

Group Activities Rankings
1
Community Service
2
Guest Speakers
3
Discussion Groups
4
Educational Field Trips
5
Dinner & a Movie
6
Nature Hikes/Kayaking/Outdoor Adventures/Recreational Activities
7
Game Nights


Additional suggestions for group activities were as follows:

Book/News Article Reviews
3
Women’s Activities
1
Fundraising
1
Political Campaigns (school vouchers, creationism, homophobia, etc.)
1
Raising Awareness (tabling)
1
Attending Leisure Activities (sports, movies, theater)
1
Support Groups/Discussions about members' history &thoughts on humanism
1


 Community Service Suggestions:

Food Drives
6
Road Clean-Up
5
Secular Support Groups/Promotion of Humanism
4
Environmental Causes
3
Open to all Possibilities
3
Book Drive for Children
1
Clothing Drive
1
Outreach to African American & Hispanic Groups
1
Community vegetable garden in low-income area
1
Weekly volunteer efforts
1
Large scale projects (donating property for park/community center)
1


 Other suggestions for the Humanist Society of Gainesville:

Outreach to UF students
2
More group discussions at meetings
2
More community service
1
Improve public perception
1
More emphasis on humanism, less on atheism
1
More potlucks
1
Meeting more than once a month
1

Thank you to all of those who participated!  Your feedback is important, and gives our group ideas for future meetings, projects, and ultimately will better help the Humanist Society of Gainesville to serve its members and supporters.

Didn't have the opportunity to participate in the survey?  Weigh in below with your thoughts!