One of the local groups I help facilitate in Saskatoon is Café Apostate. Here’s how the group is described:
Are you a recovering religionist? A former fundy? Someone who grew up deeply involved in the faith, and now has gone all heretic? Or did you escape any religious indoctrination, and are just interested in hearing stories from the formerly religious?
If so, then you should come out and join us for coffee and religiously-based rants at Café Apostate. It’s a low-key way to interact with other freethinkers who have “left the flock,” and share stories and maybe even brainstorm some strategies of how to deal with religious friends and family members who don’t understand your godlessness.
Café Apostate: A cupful of heresy!
The intention of our group isn’t quite along the lines of the Recovering from Religion groups, or even the Living without Religion group out in Ontario — while we do have similar aims. Maybe it’s the rebellious ex-evangelical in me, but I wanted the name of our group to be less support-group oriented. I also didn’t like how the other two names gave the (unintended) impression that the ex-believer’s life is now disempowered or is lacking something.
The little group we’ve got in Saskatoon is growing quite well, and at each of our monthly meetings, I’m always surprised at the range of people we have attend. We’ve had everyone from former evangelicals (*cough*me*) to retired Catholic priests, former Hindus, past new-Agers, and there’s always a few from-the-cradle atheists attending, too.
You can imagine that this kind of melange makes for many interesting conversations! I love how our group is open to both former-believers AND never-been-believers. I find that having the mix of the two really helps to open up conversations and disseminate stereotypes, for either perspective.
As someone who once was an active Christian, and is now turned an active heretic, there have been times where my background of being a former believer has been considered a liability by a few fellow nonbelievers.
Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but I hate it when there’s needless hierarchies and us/them divides, especially when you are all heading in the same supposed direction. This isn’t to say that I find myself in a place of privilege over someone who has never been in a faith system — but, likewise, I don’t think it means that I’ve been forever marred with a deluded/indoctrinated mind, just because I was once an evangelical Christian.
If anything, there’s a need for both types of us atheists — those who have not been in a faith system and those who have. We each have different perspectives to lend to our movement, and if anything, the two groups make for one hell (pun intended) of a tag-team against irrational religious belief!
[*I'm pretty sure I heard this quote attributed to Dan Barker, a fairly prominent apostate leading the Freedom from Religion Foundation in the States]