10 things atheist groups can do to take on class exclusion

When I wrote on this blog that I was homeless once, response was good – including, to my surprise, from colleagues with affluent backgrounds. What’s not surprising is how many of my colleagues’ backgrounds were affluent. The secular movement is notoriously exclusive, and even internal moves for change have met resistance.

Demands we talk about class from those unwilling to adjust their politics have at times derailed gender and race (among other) debates, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. A friend sought suggestions last week about how to be more economically inclusive. Here are the ones I made:

1. Remember poor people – some of them are atheists.
2. If your group’s a church alternative… be an alternative.
3. Don’t just meet at the ‘nice’ end of town.
4. Don’t charge prohibitive entry fees.
5. Provide childcare, free of charge.
6. Don’t hold graphic design contests.
7. Don’t just hire graduates.
8. Pay your speakers – well.
9. Pay your interns – money.
10. Remember ‘students’ and ‘young people’ aren’t synonyms.

Read more at Alternet.


  1. Jeff Engel says

    Thank you very much for this! There’s no small amount written about the need for greater inclusion in atheism, but not nearly so much of useful, concrete suggestions like these, and working to include those of us who haven’t the wealth to travel, provide unpaid labor, or do without childcare provisions fills a particular gap.

    I’m glad to see some reference particularly to replacing the tangible benefits poor and working class people get from churches by atheist/secular communities.

  2. says

    “10. Remember ‘students’ and ‘young people’ aren’t synonyms.”

    As a non-traditional student, I appreciate this. Now that I’m in grad school, things have gotten far more “old man friendly,” but… …well, my fellow non-trads will know. It kinda sucks at times. The undergrads I teach were born when I was serving in the Navy.

    I like the daycare mention for events. I had another hope that I’ve been trying to put out there for a while now. Baby needs. It’d be awesome if we had some sort of donation exchange that we could set up to pass on our old baby and child hand-me-downs. Many atheist parents have lost the family and church support that often provides these. Baby and toddler clothes may be cheap, but it adds up when your kid outgrows their entire wardrobe every 3-6 months and that wardrobe needs to be big enough to cover up to 2 or 3 changes every day between laundry days, which for working poor families can be few and far apart squeezed into a hectic schedule. And that’s before toys, books, or even those little outlet plug thingies. No kid should be toyless or have to spend the day wearing their breakfast because their parents are, ZOMG!, atheist or LGBT. It’d be awesome if it could be tied into atheist meetups.

    Just a thought.

  3. prophetjoetopia says

    I actually registered and created an account to write bravo. It’s great to see someone in the atheist blogosphere to actually address this.


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