This is how it is done, son. Advancing secular humanism and non-belief. Through education and community. The Kansas City KS Oasis group does it about as good as any in the country.
On a recent trip to the Great State of Kansas I had the opportunity to visit the Sunday morning gathering of KC Oasis. This is not your average atheist meetup. This get-together is not the usual dozen or so Unbelieving Scum sitting around the coffee shop on Sunday morning chatting about all things secular. Not that the proliferation of meetups like that around the country aren’t a fantastic source of information sharing and community for non-believers but what Oasis does every Sunday is more than a bit impressive, off the scale in fact:
100+ in attendance, daycare, coffee and donuts, music, and a professional sound and presentation setup, featured speakers,…the works. And a friendly group of members/volunteers who put it all together and make you feel welcome…no matter what you believe.
Their website at KCOASIS will give you the whole picture.
And they support those less fortunate in the local Kansas City community by collecting items for infant and maternal care to be distributed right there at home. This is secular activism at its best!
What unites us all as secularists? It’s not merely non-belief in traditional mythologies and their repressive tendencies. We can be secularists of all stripes: atheists, agnostics, deists, freethinkers, nontheists, pastafarians and more but we all base our lives and our approach to the world and all creatures in it on two things: reason and tolerance.
Another one of their slogans is:
“Reality is known through reason.”
Who can argue with sensible and compassionate ideas like that?
It is ideologies, be they political or religious, that when they put their tenets above human rights, as more important than human lives, that people are repressed and killed.
People ARE more important than beliefs and that’s what the New Enlightenment, the secular advance we are witnessing in this country and worldwide is all about.
The next weekend back home I related my experience to the good folks at a local meetup I attend and passed around the KC Oasis flyer for that Sunday’s events. They were all blown away. One comment stood out above the rest. One of our members had gotten pretty disillusioned after a stint in Vietnam and the whole Nixon-Reagan era conservative tsunami in this country and had pulled away from politics and the public sphere thinking the cause of secularism: reason and tolerance was hopeless. He said besides our meetups, seeing what other secularists are doing around the country like the impressive KC Oasis group gave him real hope for the future he hasn’t felt in years. There truly is a new and accelerating grass-roots secular movement in this country. We should be encouraged and empowered to kick it up another notch, like Oasis has.
We can all take a page from KC Oasis’s play book. It was a pleasure to have had the chance to see another fine example of what people can do when they are not doing religion.
Heck, I hated to leave when it was all over but I did and do have my list of commitments back up North.
And so while I was crossing the state line into Missouri early the next morning before the sun was coming up all I could think to myself was “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto…”
Thnx for the inspiration, Oasis. I was as blown away as poor Dorothy and her house.
But in a good way of course.