Atheist associations in Europe

Aug 2, 2013

Discussion by: Sedanar

Hi everybody,
I've been getting more and more interested in atheist activism these last few months, and of course have quickly discovered the RDF site as well as a few others. I have done a bit of research for atheist associations here in France, I have found a few things but I'm not really satisfied.
Do you guys know of any (good) atheist associations active in Europe, and even more specifically in France, something that would be equivalent to American Atheists for example ?

16 comments on “Atheist associations in Europe

  • 2
    stuhillman says:

    I too live in France but this is a secular country with little need to campaign against government promotion of religion and in which the Catholic religion is in serious decline. There are not enough priests to service an ever ageing and dwindling congregation. In my area (Haute Vienne) there is one priest for five local churches and, of course, church marriages are voluntary and not officially recognised.

    It’s seems as though your native language is English so I suggest the British Humanist Association web site. I go to the UK every year for the annual convention – meet great people and get a fish-and-chip fix.

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  • Atheism isn’t a widespread term in the UK. It’s a big deal in the USA because there’s so much strident religion about. It’s not the same on this side of the Atlantic. ‘The God Delusion’ was aimed at Americans mainly.

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  • 6
    Sedanar says:

    Thank you for your answers, they have been really helpful, especially the IHEU. I must admit humanism didn’t really come to my mind when I did my research (maybe because I didn’t know what humanism was exactly and that I was pretty much one myself, I actually submitted this thread around the 10th of july).
    @Archaic Torso : Well, this is the kind of activism I’m looking for :
    It’s not necessarily atheistic, but more like secular activism.
    @stuhillman : I’m actually french, born and raised, and I used to think that as well, until the recent anti-gay marriage protests took place, which were essentially motivated by religion. When I saw hundreds of thousands of people go out in the streets to protest same sex marriage, I changed my mind, and thought that this kind of people motivated by religious bigotry needed to be opposed by rational thinkers. Also, politicians tend to get more and more religious (for example, Sarkozy saying France is a catholic country a few years ago), and I wouldn’t want to see that get out of control and become like the usa. In short, I think we shouldn’t just sit back and watch, thinking that the battle is won.

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  • 7
    Gamall Wednesday Ida says:

    In reply to #6 by Sedanar:

    Also, politicians tend to get more and more religious (for example, Sarkozy saying France is a catholic country a few years ago), …

    I am French as well, and I am under the same impression as you. Despite having been raised in a Catholic primary and middle school, I assumed that nobody really took that stuff seriously. Not now. Not here.

    Sarkozy was a discordant note — in more ways than this one, actually. The recent anti-gay demonstrations have been a wake-up call. The time when we could plausibly poke fun at “those crazy Yanks and their crazy cults” is over, it seems.

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  • 8
    Stephen Mynett says:

    Hi Sedanar, I think you make a very good point about not sitting back thinking we have won. Certainly in England we have not but it is not only ourselves we should be thinking of. We often take it forgranted we can criticise religion, unlike many countries when the reaction to criticism is often a death sentence. We owe it to our friends everywhere to keep pressure on religions.

    As for European atheist groups, you could try this one, it has only ben going a couple of years but the numbers there are increasing:

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  • 9
    odalrich says:

    In Spain there are several atheist associations, at national, provincial and regional levels. Here you have two at national level:

    • Asociación de Ateos Españoles – A.A.E. (Spanish Atheist Associaion).

    Iniciativa Atea – links: (Atheist Initiative).

    The second one has links to other atheist associations in Spain and Latin America.


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  • 10
    Ornicar says:

    France is indeed ill organised to stay a secular country. I met here only one person who heard about Richard Dawkins (and that was the director of the natural history museum of my city). Nobody I know ever heard about other anglophones atheists (Dennett, Hitchens…). Catholics are discreet but omnipresent in tradition. Our president becomes “Chanoine de Latran” as soon as elected, blessed by the Pope.

    Sure, catholic religion will probably self-destroy soon enough, in spite of it’s recent homophobic revival against universal marriage rights. But the main threat to French secularism is currently Islam. It’s hard to criticize the muslim ideology without being soon accused of racism. Religious organisations are fighting for making “islamophobia” a crime. A thought crime, maybe. I remind you that freedom of speech is not guaranteed by constitution, here.

    Sure, France is the only country that I know of that published copies of the danish cartoons of Muhammad. But only one newspaper dared to do so. And when that newspaper’s building got fire-bombed, the main public reaction was “they should have respected religion ; they only insulted believers to sell more paper”

    We need to get organised to fight for secularism against the rise of Islam as against any other religion, and the main argument should be, in my opinion, to explain the Islam is not a race, is not an ethnicity. It’s an ideology and ideologies can be criticised, ridiculed and even fought.

    Over 1 billion 500 millions Muslims in the world, 1 billion lives in Asia.

    Biggest Muslim populations in the world :

    • Indonesia : 205 millions
    • Pakistan : 178 millions
    • India : 177 millions
    • Bangladesh : 149 millions
    • Egypt : 80 millions

    The first arab country comes fifth. Your average Muslim has slanted eyes or looks Indian !

    In France, both the Arab-Muslim population and the extreme right insist on maintaining the confusion between Arab and Muslim :
    – The first ones for communitarism : people taken away from their homeland and culture, sticking together in hard times by meeting at the mosque and sharing religious holy days.
    – The second ones to use secularism as a racist weapon, to target dark skinned populations.

    We need to communicate on the dichotomy between Arab and Muslim, especially by shinning a light on french atheists of arab origins, but we have no big atheist organisation here. It’s been 200 years since we seriously fought against a religion.

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  • 11
    fabi11975 says:

    See what do Michel Onfray. But not trully rationnalist thinker or association in France. I m thinking created this type of association, and search people for promote atheism and rationalism.
    Fabien M

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  • 12
    Ornicar says:

    Come on, Fabi. I read Onfray’s “Traité d’Athéologie” and it doesn’t go far.

    Dawkins’ analysis is much more powerful. Onfray is barely repeating that, ah, ah, religious claims are stupid.

    The only good thing in Onfray’s atheism, is when he says we have to supersede Christian “épistémée”, that is getting rid of all negative Christian influence in our cultures, especially regarding contempt for the human (and especially female) body. He is not an “atheist with Jesus” kind of guy. He understands that the cult of virginity and masochistic declaration of love to misery are slave’s values that would still do great harm even though supernaturalism were to be overcome. That is Onfray’s good Nietzschean side.

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  • 13
    fabi11975 says:

    @ ornicar
    I agree not totaly. Onfray have do an history of hilosophy materialist too. His last book about Albert Camus is, for me, the best thing he had writining. And i have said too that i m interresting to created, participed a and searching to promoted rationalism association. You can see too Jen claude Ameisen “sur les épaules de Darwin”, one of the best scientist emission of France Inter, and now, one book too. But searching rationalist way dont be closed, and all personn can be have his word for thispromotion. Withall my respect, Fabien M

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  • 15
    PoliticallyIncorrectAtheist says:

    I hope the left-wing admin will no longer censor me again for having a differ opinion that the officially accepted ones.
    I was a member of an atheist community in my country but I left and I don’t regret my decision. Simply I had enough of leftist atheists who think they know everything but they completely clueless on some issues.
    Leftists usually have a problem only with Christianity and when you dare to point the finger at Islam they call you an Islamophobe.
    Islam is a million times more dangerous than the soft form of Christianity that we have in Europe.
    Francois Hollande legalized gay marriage which is a good thing. But that’s the single good decision taken by Hollande.
    Unfortunately France is bankrupt. I repeat :FRANCE IS A BANKRUPT COUNTRY ! French economy is doing worse under Hollande than it did under Sarkozy. And btw, Sarkozy banned the burka.There no place in a modern society for traditions that belong to the Dark Ages.
    Entrepreneurs leave France. Highly skilled young French also started to leave. Hollande’s socialist paradise turns out to be a nightmare.

    Socialism sounds nice in theory but always works bad in practice.
    As an atheist I refuse to vote for a leftist atheist because I think that leftist economic policies do more harm to the society than the soft form of Christianity that we have today in Europe. And I do not even consider leftists atheists to be real atheists. They don’t worship God but they do worship the nanny welfare state.
    I’m not a fan of Margaret Thatcher but I fully agree with one of her quotes. “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”

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  • In reply to #15 by PoliticallyIncorrectAtheist:

    Unfortunately France is bankrupt. I repeat :FRANCE IS A BANKRUPT COUNTRY !

    France is bankrupt. The second sentence explains it very well.

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