Grand Rapids Area Freethinkers are dedicated to building a welcoming
atheist community that actively promotes secular values through educational programs, social activities, and participation in public affairs.
The group was organized to provide a place for those who support a secular society to meet, share ideas, build friendships, explore common interests and get support from each other. We have a main monthly meeting where we typically explore a topic of interest by watching a video or just having an open discussion. A weekly meeting is used for an open conversation and friendship without any particular agenda. A women’s group meets monthly for the same purpose. A book group is in the process of development for those who enjoy reading and talking about what they have read with others in the group. You can see a list of all our various meetings, locations and schedules at our Meetup.com website.
GRAF became an official chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) in the spring of 2013. FFRF is the largest atheist/secular organization in the country with more than 21,000 members as of the fall of 2014. They have been growing at a rapid pace for the past few years as a result of their aggressive campaign to challenge state/church separation issues. They have a staff of more than 4 attorneys and a large number of legal interns. They have hundreds of violations brought to their attention each year. They typically write detailed letters to the parties involved informing them of the nature of the violation, the legal precedents that have been established and the willingness of the FFRF to pursue court action if the violation continues. The financial support of GRAF members and similar organizations for FFRF is crucial to their continued success in defending the Constitution and the 1st Amendment in the Bill of Rights for the benefit of everyone.
Our membership includes men and women, couples, older folks, younger folks (college age and even high school) with all sorts of different backgrounds. Many were raised in one religion or another, but have set it aside. Some were raised in families without religious convictions. Some left their parent’s religion at an early age while others remained involved until much later in their life. All of them enjoy meeting and interacting with a community of others who share their basic view of religion as constraining and incompatible with thinking for oneself.
Our regular meetings are mostly focused on education and ideas at this point. The more social gatherings (Women’s Group, Weekly Meeting ) are more a matter of getting to know each other personally. Of course a lot of that getting to know each other takes place in talking about ideas, experiences, etc. Just sharing personal stories is a common part of those meetings as well. Over time we added other get togethers like family friendly BBQs and pot luck dinners to extend the sense of participation in a community that we want to be an outcome of forming the group in the first place.
This blog has multiple authors all of whom are active members of the Grand Rapids Area Freethinkers group. They represent the diversity of the group itself including men, women, younger people and older people. Most, but not all, have maintained a secular view of life for many years. Some, but not all, have been active in the secular community and maintain membership in large, national organizations like the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Blog postings will often reflect the differences in perspective that come from different levels of involvement, experience and special interests. Entering into a dialog with others is important and is the major reason we have joined the Grand Rapids Area Freethinkers.