A Common Godlessness: A Snapshot of a Canadian University Atheist Club, Why Its Members Joined, and What That Community Means to Them
In Canada there is an increasing demographic of atheists who belong to atheist organizations. This chapter, based on interviews with members of the Atheist Community of the University of Ottawa, asks why these members joined an atheist community, and what that community means to them. It points to a simple desire to converse with like-minded people being the number one reason for joining the student group. Other reasons included a desire to converse in a safe place where the probability of causing offense was minimalized. Missing from the majority of responses was a desire for activism and the propagation of atheism in Canada, two reasons often cited for why atheists join communities in the United States. To account for this difference a short analysis of atheisms relationship to Canadian multiculturalism is undertaken. As with all fieldwork, the results reflect the answers of a limited sample of individuals. The findings from this singular snapshot of one university atheist community nevertheless points to at least one form of “Canadianized atheism” whereby the desire not to be offensive merges with the desire to engage in discussions with like-minded individuals on topics pertaining to religion that are often controversial. The chapter concludes that in order to understand atheism in Canada one must also take into consideration how political responses to diversity, such as multiculturalism, play a role in the shaping of how atheist communities are understood and how they understand themselves.
KeywordsReligious People Western Democracy Reasonable Accommodation Club Meeting Atheist Group
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