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Send an Atheist to Church

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Planning Time2 to 4 weeks
Group Size4+
Staff #3+
Event DateAnytime/Ongoing

Activity Overview: Send an atheist to church is a unique way for your group to give back to the community in an innovative way while also generating positive buzz for your group and atheists at large. The Send an Atheist to Church event is an excellent idea because it produces positive press worthy material via genuine community service volunteering. The essential process to Send an Atheist to Church are as follows:

1.    Individuals make a cash donation to a charity of your group’s choosing.small
2.    Individuals then choose what denomination of religious services they want the atheists to attend.
3.    The more money donated in a denomination's name, the more visits it receives.

Planning Timeframe: While the essential process and overall idea are simple enough, you still would want to carefully prepare for the event beforehand. Give yourself enough time it will take to contact the relevant charity (or charities if you prefer), engage with various faith based organizations & their churches and planning for advertisements. You should consider contacting or appealing to most religious institutions in your area. Set aside time to contact local mosques, synagogues, monasteries etc. It shouldn't take more than a few weeks to collect all the information you need. Actually going through all the motions should depend on how many souls you are willing to sacrifice to the gods. If you have many, you should keep a flexible window of time open and if not, make it clear that the opportunity to save heathen souls is a limited time offer. You don't want to have 7 sheep and 20 requests for sacrifice.

Coordinating: Three coordinators are recommended for the task: one to handle research for charity & handling donations, one for contacting religious groups and another for spreading the word and any further publicity. It is not uncommon for such this event to become newsworthy. The rest of the group are the potential volunteer sheep to be sent as a burnt offering for the cause. If you're using tabling as a way to advertise the event, you'll want at minimum two volunteers at the table at any one time: one solicit people's interest, the other to handle the cashbox.

Material Requirements: Have the usual tabling supplies (banner, flyers, custom literature) on hand. You'll also need a cashbox to handle donations, and possibly a receipt book. You can promote event through signs and fliers. Check out our Design Exchange to pick out a flyer you could modify or get an idea of how you might want to advertise. Feel free to create your own design.

Suggested Walkthrough:send

  1. Chose a charity that both theists and non-theists can support. Food Banks and the Red Cross are good choices. The Richard Dawkins Foundation and The Salvation Army probably aren't.
  2. Decide as a group how much each soul is worth (suggestions are around $10) and how long you are willing to keep donations open. Some sheep may have to be sacrificed more than once.
  3. Consider pitching the fundraiser as a contest to see which church denomination can raise the most money. Before adding a church representing a denomination to a list, make sure it is okay with them. Email and call whoever is in charge of that place of worship, or better yet, find a friend who can vouch for your character. Some places will say no, but they’re more likely to agree if one of their parishioners can vouch for your good standing.
  4. Table the event in a high traffic public area.
    1. Note: If your group sets up a Squareup account, they can accept donations via debit/credit card.
  5. Hold the event for more than one day. Some people might not have cash on them, and what you’re doing is likely to spread from word of mouth. Besides, a consistent presence shows your group is serious about this project.
  6. Have a nice big bar graph that you keep updated with running totals for each denomination. People like competition, and they’re more likely to throw in a couple bucks if they see their denomination losing!
  7. If possible, try to find less mainstream groups to visit. People (be they theist or atheist) get a kick out of sending a bunch of heathens to the Mormons or Scientologists. I wonder why they find that so amusing…
  8. When the fundraising has stopped send the atheists out to Church to fulfill their end of the bargain.

Send an Atheist to Church is inspired by Hemant Mehta and his book, I Sold My Soul on eBay.

This activity packet was inspired from the members of the Society of Nontheists at Purdue.

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