I recently went to a lively Meet-Up of the Reno Freethinkers. The main topic of discussion seemed centered around what the group is going to do in relation to religion and government in this country and in the Reno area. There were a lot of ambitious ideas that centered around contacting members of Congress, and other public officials. There was talk of a billboard, advertising in the newspaper, and of newspaper editorials.
One freethinker started to hit upon what I think is the right way that all local groups should proceed. He was talking about the need to address people when they are most impressionable, that is, children. The children of our communities need to be given critical thinking skills early enough so that they can start to see the holes in some of the things they are taught in schools and the things that their friends try to talk them into. This is also the method of the church, of course. Hook 'em while they're young.
It is difficult, however, to speak directly to kids. It's especially difficult for an atheist group to do so. They are insulated by their parents and by the community. I think that local groups would have better success by addressing parents, adults, and the community with information tables set up at religious events; peaceful gatherings outside of religious venues where information could be handed out and questions could be asked. Don't confront them as they come out of church and say that they just wasted their time (even though they did). Just give them enough information to make them think. Attack the subconscious with a speck of doubt that will slowly pick at the unused parts of their brains.
I've been working with a colleague all day today and we have been talking about religion and spiritualism. This person is a believer of several spiritual and supernatural ideas that I’m not going to go into here. I made him think about a few things, though. For example, he says that he use to have the ability to remote view. I didn't tear him down right away but I did ask him how it works. I asked If remote viewing is possible then what is the mechanism that makes it work? I reasoned that there are three possibilities. Either there is some sort of quantum effect that we don't quite understand, or there is a god-like entity that is actually facilitating the act, or that it all happened in his head. My guess is the later but I wouldn't rule out the first one.
The point is, I made him think rather than just nodding my head and dismissing him. That is our “in”. That is how we, as atheists, got to this point and that is how others will get to this point. Make them think.
This colleague of mine doesn't think I can change the world one person at a time. He's wrong. I believe that I can. I believe that all of us can do it. All I need to do is get one person to think about why they are doing or believing whatever it is they are doing and just maybe that one person will tell someone else during their lifetime. The pyramid like effects of one person talking to two or more people that also talk to two or more people is how revolutions are started and ideas are disseminated. It's not impossible.
I look forward to doing good things with the Reno Freethinkers and the Reno Skeptics.
Think globally, act locally. In this case, local could me the person sitting next to you.