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Ask an Atheist Tabling

Note: This is the activity packet for running an Ask an Atheist event. For Ask an Atheist Day, please click here.

Activity Overview:
This is a great event a group can use to help dispel some of the mythology around atheists and to appear open and inviting on your campus. A tabling event would require a minimum of two-people with a commitment for a few hours. The volunteers to staff the table should be able to articulate their viewpoints in a clear and precise fashion. It would help if the volunteers are from a diverse background (as in atheists raised as such, those who deconverted, or others who may not call themselves "atheists"). Ask an Atheist Tabling is relatively inexpensive and the SSA can help your group with tabling resources if enough time is given to plan ahead. A planning period of at least one week is suggested. If your group is unable to have an actual table, having your group members walk around with Ask an Atheist stickers on is still a great way to participate in the event.

Planning:
1) Getting the materials ready. This would include flyers to promote the event, contacting the local religious groups and letting them know of Ask an Atheist and inviting them to ask questions at the table, ordering Ask an Atheist stickers online from the SSA, printing out the hand-outs etc. (7-10 days) If you are requesting tabling supplies from the SSA, please allow for 2 weeks. Don't forget 
2) Discussing FAQs. The volunteers need to discuss on the most commonly asked questions and discuss how to answer them in a positive and friendly manner and how to avoid answers which would delve straight to a heated argument (1-2 hours). Click here to download an example.
3) Publicizing the event. Gathering all your members and asking them to wear the Ask an Atheist stickers on the day. This is most important because we would want people to know of the event and the members could also point people to go visit the table for more information (1-2 hours). Consider sending out a press release to publicize the event.

 Material Requirements:
Flyers about atheism, FAQ sheet with a list of common questions and answers about atheism, Ask an Atheist stickers to be worn by all members, some books on atheism on the table which you can point to for further reading, cookies/candy on the table as a sign of goodwill. A table can usually be reserved through your school or university. Please remember to have seasonally appropriate gear.

Click here for a template .pdf document to print your own Ask an Atheist stickers. Click here for a link to the Avery template to use in Word or other word processing software.

National Ask An Atheist Day is held every year. We heavily encourage our groups to participate specifically on or around that date as well as holding events at any time throughout the year. Check back often to see exactly when the next Ask an Atheist Day is going to happen. This Year's Ask an Atheist Day is being held Thursday, April 17th.


Cooperating Organizations:
Contact the religious groups on campus and invite them to the table and let them know that you'll be answering questions about atheism to dispel stereotypes. Don't stop with Christian groups, contact the Muslim students association and other major religious groups too. Always look to off-campus atheist groups in your community as well, they often love to give support, money, and manpower to student-led events.

Suggested Walkthrough:
The main goal of an Ask an Atheist event is to dispel stereotypes about atheists and promote discussion between believers and non-believers. The event kicked off as a small local Ask an Atheist day held at Purdue University and Larkin High School. The response was overwhelming. Many people stopped by to ask common questions such as, "Where do you get your morals from?" or "When did you become an atheist?" So it helps if you are prepared to answer common questions. Occasionally, someone would stop by and talk for hours about morality and those discussions are always fun. There are usually two kinds of such people, some of them stonewall all your answers and proselytize, and others however are up for an open discussion. The key would be to address everyone and have a positive attitude. The other interesting thing we noticed was that lots of atheists stopped by (who were not a part of our group) and said that they'd love to answer questions too. So go ahead and order stickers from the SSA and hand them out. Let the word spread and show that atheists are an integral part of the society as any other religious person.

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