Posted by: mollyrossiter | May 12, 2009

New group for atheists, agnostics in Corridor

When Lori Griffith’s husband was battling cancer, members of the church he grew up in sent cards and flowers and checked up on the couple regularly.

“I saw all this coming in and I was taking care of him and thinking, ‘Where’s mine? Where do I get support?'” said Griffith, 28, of Cedar Rapids.

Griffith, an atheist, didn’t have that same support community that her husband had. Although she was raised in a Lutheran church, her agnostic and later atheistic beliefs formed when she was in junior high. Eventually she left the church — and its community — behind.

“I wanted to believe. I tried so hard to believe,” Griffith said. “But you can’t make yourself believe something that you know in your heart you don’t.”

During her husband’s illness, she discovered that it wasn’t the religion she missed, it was the community. She set out to create one for people who shared her beliefs.

Having been a member of Iowa Secularists, a political activism group based in Iowa City, Griffith decided there needed to be a more social arm to the atheist/agnostic/secular community.

Last month she organized the Corridor A-Team, a group “dedicated to building  a community of atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, skeptics, within the Iowa Corridor.”

“We exist to allow non-religious people to share their thoughts, ideas and viewpoints. The Corridor A-Team is meant to be a place where we can be ourselves and enjoy our various interests without religion or other superstitions playing a central role,” according to the group’s Web site.

“We’re trying to build a local comunity, a group of people who can get together in a non-religious environment and socialize,” Griffith said.

Niles Ross, one of the 51 members of the Corridor A-Team, also is a member of Iowa Secularists. Membership in one group does not negagte membership in the other, said Ross, 66.

“We are like any other community with a diverse membership,” Ross said. “If you want to use the church as an analogy, if you’re a member of a church you also get picnics and social events. It’s fun on the one hand, it’s serious on the other and you have all points in between.”

Members get together for discussion — the H1N1 flu will be the topic of an upcoming meeting — but also for social events, such as parties and bike rides.

Membership is open to many ideologies: atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, secularists. There are even Christians who participate, Griffith said.

There is just one thing members ask: “We just want it to be a religion-free zone,” Griffith said.

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Responses

  1. It is my dream to create the same type of community in my country. I envisage a worldwide community in the long run. We need to combat the poison that is fundamentalism and offer our children a rea alternative to bigotry and anti-intellectualism. How else is the human race going to progress?


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