Must read for Humanist groups
Why Humanist groups must be about more than just philosophy.
There is a great essay – 10 ways to make sure the atheist movement is not just for the wealthy by Alex Gabriel. The tag on this article is Living without god should not be a luxury. (see: http://www.alternet.org/belief/10-ways-make-sure-atheist-movement-not-just-wealthy?page=0%2C4&paging=off¤t_page=1#bookmark)
In it, he talks about how most atheist groups, have no clue what or why people might continue to particpate in religions they don’t believe in. They don’t understand the support that religious groups give to their congregants that goes well beyond “spiritual” health matters.
Groups give tangible help, with housing assistance, and clothing and transportation and more. That is what it means to be part of a caring community. If you need help, that community will help.
Humanists and atheist groups are notoriously bad at this. We like to talk a good talk about how much better we are and how superior we are because we don’t believe. But when push comes to shove, we aren’t there for each other! And that’s not ok.
It’s really easy to forget the real challenges that people who are poor face. Being poor is expensive! http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/01/it-is-expensive-to-be-poor/282979/
Don’t get me wrong, we are getting better. There are Humanist groups that do food drives and distribute food to the homeless and raise money for disaster victims. But how many have carpools that will give their unemployed members rides to their jobs? How many will donate work clothing to a member who may need a new set of clothes to go job hunting in? How many help with childcare for a single mom who is a member? Not many because most of our groups don’t provide child care so they don’t have single moms as members because single moms can’t join because they don’t have someone to watch their child for them.
We need to do more and we need to integrate charity into the very framework of how and why we organize in the first place. And it can’t just be what we imagine people need. We need to actually meet people who would like to participate and find out what would make it easier for them to participate and what kind of support they would appreciate.
We need to stop complaining that our groups lack diversity and start providing services that diverse groups with diverse economic backgrounds need.