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Austin Cline

Forum Discussion: How Did You Rebuild Your Social Network?

By July 25, 2012

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The social aspects of religion are among the characteristics that can be most easily overlooked, at least by Americans who tend to focus on the individualistic facets of religion and religious beliefs. But those social aspects can also be the most beneficial and most easily missed once they are gone.

Social Networks
Social Networks
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The social aspects of religion and churches help bind a community together, probably are what provide the alleged health benefits of religion, and of course keep religion going into future generations.

Obviously this creates issues for atheists who don't have churches and, quite often, aren't big on joining groups anyway. What have you done, if anything, in order to achieve the sense of community common in religious contexts?

A forum member writes:

It seems to me that one benefit of attending church is that you have a ready made community of people who more-or-less share your outlook, beliefs, and values. The church (we) attended, Mormon, in particular, is a remarkably homogeneous group.

No matter where you go in the US, or indeed the world, if you are Mormon and can find the local Mormon community, you have an instant social network of people who are very much like you. ...

My question is this: How did you rebuild your network of friends and acquaintances? How did you start over from scratch finding people who share your values, interests, and outlook? Of course I have ideas, but none of them seem to be much more than variations on the 'get out and meet lots of people' theme.

Does anybody here have any advice to share on this subject? I'm particularly interested to hear from women who have gone through the same thing that my wife is experiencing right now, because to be honest I don't feel quite the same. I am perfectly content to have little or no contact with people outside my immediate family.

It's becoming clear that my wife isn't nearly as asocial as me, and I'd like to be able to offer some help other than repeated encouragements to 'get out there and meet some people'.

The need for a community is one reason why atheists have developed nontheistic religions, like Ethical Culture and Religious Humanism. It's a reason why atheists have sought each other out and created atheist groups. Do such groups fill the gaps left behind when a person leaves religion or not?

Add your thoughts to the comments here or join the ongoing discussion in the forum.

July 31, 2012 at 2:13 pm
(1) Dean J. Smith says:

I joined a UU fellowship. In 2004, I founded an atheist Meetup group, now known as the Freethought Society of the Midlands (FSM). I was 42 before I knowingly met my third atheist. Now if I’m at a restaurant or friend’s house, there’s a good chance I’ll be among other atheists

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