If you are an atheist who feels alone, we get it. It can be isolating to not believe, and sometimes it can even be dangerous. Thankfully in the U.S. we have a number of atheist-specific organizations that can help with everything from getting you access to secular therapy to advocating for your rights as a nonbeliever.
Here are some of the top atheist organizations in the US in 2021. While some may not be physically open due to COVID-19, most have robust online options in order to keep people connected.
Freedom From Religion Foundation
Founded: 1976 by Anne Nicole Gaylor and Annie Laurie Gaylor
Mission: With more than 30,000 members, FFRF, a 501(c)(3) nonprophet nonprofit, works as an effective state/church watchdog and voice for freethought (atheism, agnosticism, skepticism).
Community role: FFRF works as an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church. It publishes a freethought newspaper, sponsors student activists, conducts conventions, speeches, and debates, and maintains a “Strategic Response Team” that acts as a full-time D.C. lobbyist and legislative action alerts.
How to get in touch: Contact FFRF here
Founded: 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair
Mission: We strive to create an environment where atheism and atheists are accepted as members of our nation’s communities and where casual bigotry against our community is seen as abhorrent and unacceptable. We promote understanding of atheists through education, outreach, and community building and work to end the stigma associated with being an atheist in America.
Community role: American Atheists works to provide legal support to individuals, groups, or establishments that are victims of religious overreach. Among other things, they also track potentially discriminatory legislation, register atheists to vote in US elections, and host conventions and conferences for atheists nationwide.
How to get in touch: Contact American Atheists here
Recovering from Religion
Founded: 2009 by Dr. Darrel Ray
Mission: Learning how to live after questions, doubts, and changing beliefs is a journey. We at Recovering from Religion are intimately familiar with this path, and we are here to help you to cross that bridge. Our passion is connecting others with support, resources, community, and most of all, hope. We have two forms of support available: peer support and professional support.
Community role: RfR is dedicated to offering support and community to people who are struggling with the deconversion process. They offer the Hotline Project for people to call to talk to fellow atheists or questioners, as well as the Secular Therapy Project to connect people with secular therapists across the US. In 2021, they are also holding their second annual Conference on Religious Trauma to help raise awareness.
How to get in touch: Contact RfR here
Atheist Community of Austin
Founded: 1996 by Kellen Von Houser
Mission: The ACA is an educational non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas, dedicated to promoting positive atheist culture and the separation of religion and government. The ACA serves the local Austin community through outreach programs, providing informational resources and various volunteer activities.
Community role: The ACA runs a YouTube and podcast network that puts out such popular call-in shows as The Atheist Experience and Talk Heathen. They also support volunteer initiatives such as Atheists Helping the Homeless, as well as host the annual Bat Cruise.
How to get in touch: Contact the ACA here
American Humanist Association
Founded: 1941 by Curtis Reese and John H. Dietrich
Mission: AHA provides legal assistance to defend the constitutional rights of secular and religious minorities, lobbies Congress on church-state separation and other issues, and maintains a grassroots network of 250 local affiliates and chapters that engage in social activism, philosophical discussion and community-building events.
Community role: With their extensive local and national media contacts, lobbying and coalition efforts on Capitol Hill, and the efforts of our grassroots activists, AHA ensures that the humanist point of view is represented—the idea that you can be good without a belief in a god.
How to get in touch: Contact AHA here
Founded: 2011 by Mandisa Lateefah Thomas
Mission: Black Nonbelievers connects Black people (and allies) who are living free of religion and might otherwise be shunned by family and friends in a caring, friendly, and informative environment.
Community role: BN provides secular fellowship, organizes members for charitable causes, and promotes pride in atheist/nonreligious identity. They organize conferences such as the Women of Color Beyond Belief conference and BN SeaCon. Local chapters of BN can be found throughout the US.
How to get in touch: Contact BN here
Secular Student Alliance
Founded: 2000 by the Campus Freethought Alliance
Mission: The Secular Student Alliance empowers secular students to proudly express their identity, build welcoming communities, promote secular values, and set a course for lifelong activism.
Community role: The SSA supports secular students of all ages in finding community on their campuses. They offer startup packages for new chapters, as well as legal assistance, sex ed tool kits, and elementary school curriculae. Scholarships and a national conference also offer financial and community resources.
How to get in touch: Contact SSA here
Founded: 1996 by Edwin Kagin
Mission: Camp Quest is an organization providing humanist residential summer camps for children in the United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Norway. It was first held in 1996 in Kentucky to provide an alternative to the traditional religiously affiliated summer camps, for the children of nontheistic, humanist or freethinking families as well as children from a religious upbringing.
Community role: Camp Quest programs help campers develop critical thinking skills, grow empathy in our relationships and communities, and offer a one-of-a kind learning experience grounded in science, ethics, philosophy, and nature.
How to get in touch: Contact Camp Quest here
Why We Need Atheist Organizations in the US
Atheist organizations like the ones in this list are vital to letting nonbelievers know they are not alone. They also provide necessary counters to the structure and resources that religion offers its own community. While not as well-funded or well-connected as Christian organizations, atheist organizations are growing in both popularity and in relevance as more and more people leave the church and look for a place where they belong. No matter which resources you avail yourself of, or where you find that belonging, we’re happy you’re here!
Do you have a favorite atheist organization? Maybe one that isn’t on the list? If you’re interested in talking more about this, we would love to talk to you! Call 585-LA-MURPH or visit tiny.cc/callSG on Sunday mornings at 11:30am CT to talk with us on air.