Minnesota Atheists is one of our newest Volunteers Beyond Belief teams. Eric Jayne answered a few questions to introduce us to this active group.
Minnesota Atheists was established in 1991, as a continuation of the Twin Cities Chapter of American Atheists, which was founded in 1984. We are the state’s oldest, largest, and most active atheist organization, and we’re very welcoming with a diverse membership that shares a common bond under our shared atheist identity.
We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit, educational organization that seeks to promote the positive contributions of atheism to society and to maintain separation of state and church. We are an affiliate of the Atheist Alliance International, Council for Secular Humanism, and American Atheists, which holds annual national conventions, including the Reason Rally on March 24, 2012, in Washington, D.C.
There are many monthly events hosted by Minnesota Atheists, including popular lectures from world-renowned scientists and authors. Additionally, many members organize more informal meet-up activities that include picnics, book clubs, movie nights, newbie nights, lunches, community volunteering, and a whole lot more!
How or why did your group choose to be involved with volunteering? Although we have engaged in some small volunteering events, many members voiced their eagerness to volunteer more of their time and get more involved with the community. The rewarding feeling one gets for donating their individual time and resources to our community is not restricted to those with a beliefs in gods.
What sort of volunteer events have you participated in? Highway clean-ups and holiday gift donations to an inner-city homeless youth program and Children’s Hospital of Minnesota.
How do you deal with the additional organizational challenges posed by a volunteer event? We are excited about sharing responsibility and giving members an opportunity to share in the planning and organizing process. This will be good for creating effective volunteer events that support our community while also offering more ownership and direct contribution within our organization.
What was your favorite volunteer event so far? Personally, I really enjoyed our gift-wrapping and donation event last December. Twenty members joined together in a secular Christmas celebration in St. Paul. All attendees brought a new item gift donation based on a “Wish List” from the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota. We enjoyed food, drinks, and novelty holiday music while wrapping the large collection of presents. We loaded three cars full of presents and delivered them to Children’s Hospital of Minnesota.
What other types of events and activities has your group held? We participate in many festivals throughout the state, including six gay pride festivals last year. We produce a weekly radio program on KTNF (AM 950) and a monthly cable show. We have summer picnics, monthly speakers and lectures, book clubs throughout the metro area, newbie nights, freethinking females club, board game nights, movie nights … there’s A LOT going on in the Minnesota Atheists.
Do you feel supported by others in your community? We often collaborate with local organizations, including the Humanists of Minnesota and Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists for events.
What would you like to tell other secular humanists who are interested in volunteering? Volunteering is satisfying, rewarding, and helpful. Most atheists realize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to exist and experience consciousness, so we want to enhance it for us and others as much as we can. Volunteering with a group to mitigate crises and discomfort for others is a wonderful way to enhance this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Volunteering offers the most celebrated parts of religious institutions without the dogmatic baggage.