In February, I’m going to be attending a Christian conference that will probably draw several hundred teenagers — maybe even thousands.
At every atheist conferences I’ve ever been to, I’ve been shocked to see anywhere close to 100 students.
Why is there such a discrepancy? Yes, there are more of them than there are of us… but that alone doesn’t explain the lack of young atheists who participate in events like these.
The natural questions that follow are why is there such a paucity of young secularists active and secular causes and why do Christian organizations seem to be so much more successful at reaching out to this demographic?
Chapel does offer a few ideas of what the Christian do very well, thing that we haven’t come close to matching:
There are some things Christian organizations do quite well that secular organizations seem to have some degree of difficulty with. One such thing is making that important initial effort to reach out to young people. Another is doing so in such a way that these efforts connect with them. Christian organizations learned long ago how to do these things. They learned how to make their message appear youthful, cool, relevant, and sometimes even sexy. They learned how to effectively implement the social media. They learned how to frame issues related to their causes in such a way that they appeal to such youthful characteristics as a distrust of established institutions, the desire to rebel against authority, and the ideal of wanting to make the world a better place.
Chapel writes about a few ideas atheists should keep in mind in regarding reaching out to young people who already share our views. I’m mentioned in the article and so are several names familiar to readers of this site.
You can read the full article here (PDF)
I think we’re getting better at the social networking and getting more young atheists to come out of the closet. Our job will get easier as more people do this. The internet is our friend.
Why do you think young atheists don’t get involved in local groups or national organizations as much as Christians do?
Does their desire for freethinking drive them away from any sort of like-minded group?
Is the cost of traveling to an atheist conference too much to overcome, despite available scholarships and travel grants?
Are they simply unaware that local/national events are going on?
Chapel’s article first appeared in the January-March issue of Secular Nation magazine, the magazine of Atheist Alliance International.”