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Literally an Atheist Community

A few months ago, I saw the Academy Award nominated film, Milk about gay activist, politician, Harvey Milk. One of the things that I noticed about as I saw the movie was that the main character was able to gain political power because he formed a strong gay community to elect him. I remember wondering if atheists could form a local community and elect leaders.

Last night, I was checking out some other atheist blogs and the Friendly Atheist did a story on a small town called Liberal, Missouri. I did a little more research on this because it sounded interesting to me. The town of Liberal was founded in 1880 as a town for atheists only. There was actually a law to keep Christians out of the town.  There were no churches and on Sunday mornings school children would learn about science and philosophy.

Of course, a town which advertises as a town for atheists only is going to be a target for Christian missionary groups. Sadly, Christians started moving into the town on the “down-low” and holding secret worship services. Some Christian groups even bought up property next to Liberal and erected giant signs pushing Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong though, Liberal was no paradise, it certainly had its problems. For one thing, while I understand the desire to outlaw religion I do see that level of authoritarian control to be detrimental to society. Nevertheless, I think that modern atheists can learn a lot from Liberal, Missouri. Maybe the time has come to try this experiment again in a more modern way.

I don’t think we can actively exclude Christians and other god believers, but we can certainly find a place where we can form the majority and use the democratic process to create a community of our own. Of course, fundamentalist Christians will undoubtedly come to proselytize and we would have to deal with that. First things first however, what are people’s opinions about the idea? Where would be the best place for such a town? How willing and able would you be to move to an atheist town?

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  • http://www.myspace.com/itsahicke Her3tiK

    Well, the south is obviously suicide if anyone were to try it there. New England or the west coast would be best, especially in a state with legalized gay marriage.

    As for the proselytism(?) issue, outlawing religion is not going to work, as you said. I’ve found though, that if you’re debating religion and state that you will not accept sources of information that college professors won’t allow in bibliographies (cannot be verified by other credible sources), use of the bible as a source of info stops pretty quickly. Making that a local law isn’t anti-religious per say, but it could go a long way in stopping the more ridiculous arguments.

    Education-wise, evolution and history of religions should be a must. For all I was taught about all the wars ever fought, the religious drive behind them was left out. With things like Indian persecution by the Spanish, religious drive is a pretty big thing to ignore. Also, not to be too self-aggrandizing here, but would I be able/allowed to post a link to one of my blogs here? It covers several areas I think the educational system could use improvement on.

    This is an interesting idea. I’m not wholly sure I’d want to move there (depending on where it ends up being and whatnot), but I wouldn’t rule it out until more ideas start flowing. Especially with atheism becoming more common, it may be easier to establish such a place within the next decade or so.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Sure, post your link.

      I don’t know if it would be better to put an atheist town in an already liberal area, a heavily religious area, or somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. Brother Sam Singleton, Atheist Evangelist lives out in Montana and that had a certain appeal.

      • http://www.myspace.com/itsahicke Her3tiK

        Thanks. I got out of HS a year ago, so these suggestions are about as up to date as one can probably get.
        http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.viewcustom&friendId=104780004&blogId=508465683&swapped=true

        Starting in a liberal area might be worthwhile just to see if the concept works. Of course, there’s also the possibility of using a state like Iowa. Most people don’t seem to have expected them to legalize gay marriage, given their location, so it may be a good middle of the road state, so to speak, for such an experiment. At least until the town gets blamed for tornado season.

  • http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewProfile&friendID=413747468 Robb

    Well, I live in Portland, Oregon; here you could certainly get away with it. This is a very liberal, progressive town with a large number of atheists already living here. However, Oregon is a very polar state; it contains some the most die hard Conservative/Rapture Right types in the nation, as well as the Progressives its typically known for. I could see tensions escalating quickly…

  • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

    Of course, I’d suggest Michigan. The state is already liberal but there are still some fundies around. I live in Michigan, so I of course, make this suggestion biasedly. There is enough of us though, that making only one town is thinking small. We need towns like that in all 50 states.

  • http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com makarios

    That’s kind of a neat idea. The Federal gov. could donate land to build atheist reservations :-)

  • http://calebism.com calebism

    I’m a former Portlander, now exiled to the festering appendage of the bible belt, Floduh, but I was going to suggest Portland. Maybe you could start with Buckman/Sunnyside/H.A.N.D. neighborhoods…

  • Kat

    We just need stricter tax laws.I think we should work on laws to make Religious Organizations and Churches pay taxes.The original laws were to protect Non-Profits, but we all know they are BIG profit making BUSINESSES. That would close down a lot of them…more room for us. (:
    I live in Maryland, mostly moderate Democrats, but I live in a VERY conservative, Republican County(Carroll). Church on every corner and they still hang their Confederate flags out…. I was young when I moved here, LOL The county HAS been expanding, so I’m hoping eventually more moderates or liberals move in. Right now all our local and county reps. are Republicans. I was surprised they didn’t burn a cross in my yard when I had my Obama for President signs in my yard…I’m not kidding.

  • http://dogmaticatheist.wordpress.com A-Dizzle

    Like the new design. Much easier on the eyes.

  • http://www.myspace.com/DD_NU4EVER Diana

    I like Scott’s idea of an atheist town in each state, but it might be harder these days for people to do even that much. Many people have jobs and houses, and it would be too inconvenient to move….I mean, we’ve all seen these ludicrous town hall meetings full of nutters, and yet most of us are content to sit on our couches and scream at the tv, instead of going out there and defending health care. We aren’t exactly a hands on bunch, are we?

    What we need is to get involved in the towns in which we already reside. Gather to you the atheists among you and come up with ways to spread the logic. If we, and this may already exist, but if we had a website we could all go to to print out flyers, letters to send to our local representation, and maybe even cheat sheets in how to deal with religious people….we could hand out the flyers, sign and send the letters in order to change policies, and help our own families reason themselves out of the dogmatic wholes society and tradition placed them in. Grassroots, as they call it. It’s something simple that we could do that doesn’t involve selling our homes and quitting our jobs and moving across country…or being yelled at by an angry mob. Not cool.

    Actually!!!

    Here’s a great flyer you can pass out :)
    http://www.digitalfreethought.com/why_believe_in_god.pdf

    I also found this:

    http://www.positiveatheism.org/mail/eml8453.htm
    It has nothing but deconversion stories. It’s not exactly a cheat sheet but by reading these we can get an idea of the kind of things we could point out.

    I read the very first story. The young person said that a turning point for her was when she found out the there was a gene for homosexuality. She reasoned that if god made us, why would he make a person with this gene, just so he could send him to hell? It doesn’t make sense, does it?

    I haven’t found a place that has prewritten letters that we can send to our local representatives.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Atheists United has a website (http://www.au.org) where you can send letters to your congress person and Senators as well as your local newspapers.

      There are also a lot of local atheist groups all over the country. Fred Edwords has been organizing multiple groups to work together through his new group UnitedCoR (http://www.unitedcor.org).

      My brother has been gathering atheist tracts together right here on Dangerous Talk (http://www.DangerousTalk.net/a-team/tracts)

  • Rory

    Your proposal rests too much on the highly questionable assumptions that atheists share a common political philosophy. While this might be reasonable on certain issues like church/state it doesn’t hold for many others. While it may seem that many atheists are “liberal” I myself am libertarian (small L) as is Michael Shermer and the staff of Reason magazine.

    Atheists like Christopher Hitchens, and Shermer and myself are proponents of the Iraq war while many other liberal atheists like Dawkins were not. Some atheists like Hitchens are opposed to abortion some atheists like Sam Harris support torture. If we broaden the issues it doesn’t get any better. And then there’s the fact that on many scientific and progressive issues most believers are full throated supporters.

    Having a politically based atheist community makes about as much sense as having a politically based non-ghost-believing community. When you add in the fact that it could quickly become discriminatory and authoritarian it sounds like a very very bad idea. It would also contradict your post about selling humanity short.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Well, I guess forming a community based on lack of religion makes as much sense as forming a community based on sexual preference… oh wait.

      Sure that are going to be idiots and morons in every group, but by forming a community of reason, we will be minimized that number. People like you who feel like you are so different than other atheists don’t need to come. Why would you want to live in a town called “Liberal” anyway if you are a libertarian (small L). Maybe this community isn’t for you.

      I still think that a community of reason is a good idea. Like I said before though, the original Liberal went wrong when they tried to make religious belief against the law. This is also the main error of Soviet Russia and China. I am thinking more on the lines of the Harvey Milk strategy where we find a place to live and encourage non-believers to dominate the town and take it over through the Democratic process.

  • nick gray

    omg i would totally join plz inform me when y ou guys find a place