None of the Above

December 13, 2006


Source: Lansing City Pulse

Every soul in Christendom knows that sometimes, a supper is more than just a supper. “We are apostles,” Jim Hong, president of the Mid-Michigan Atheists and Humanists, exhorts at a Sunday, Dec. 3, meeting in East Lansing. “We need to go out and expand. We need to network.”

In recent months, biologist Richard Dawkins and several other high-profile philosophers and scientists fed up with religious fundamentalism have urged atheists to come out of the closet. Judging by the current membership boom in Hong’s group, a lot of local atheists are doing just that.

In less than two years, Hong, a structural engineering consultant who lives in Jackson, has seen attendance at monthly meetings spike from a single-digit trickle to an average of 20 and a high of 35, with 60 people on the group’s register. Most members are from the Lansing area, but others come from as far away as Lake Orion, Monroe and Flint.

This afternoon, Hong has invited a manageable fraction of the group to share thoughts and stories about coming out as atheists in a country overwhelmingly populated by the faithful. They’re also here to plan a Dec. 17 winter solstice celebration, an alternative to the religious festivals that dominate December. On the secular docket thus far is a silent auction and a talent show featuring songs, poems, dance and Hong’s dazzling demonstration on how to fold a shirt in 2.1 seconds.