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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 misconceptions 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 people who volunteer to staff the table should be able to articulate their viewpoints clearly and precisely. It helps to have volunteers from a diverse background - those who were raise atheists, 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 two weeks 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.

Be sure to also check out our Ask an Atheist group training resource to help get your group on the same page and working together, with a unified message.

Planning Timeframe:
First you need to prepare materials. This would include flyers to promote the event, a table, freebies like stickers and candy, and informational brochures. This will probably take 7-10 days. If you are requesting tabling supplies from the SSA, please allow for 2 weeks.

You'll also need to acquire tabling volunteers. Set up a spreadsheet to detail who will be at the table at what time, and who will set up and tear down the table. Prepare your volunteers by discussing 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. We have a FAQ guide here. Also review our general tabling best practices guide.

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. Be sure to reserve the table space well in advance so you get the day you want. 

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. It's always on the third Thursday of April, so mark your calendars! Remember to also promote Openly Secular Day at your event, which is the fourth Thursday of April. 

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.

Have all of your members wear Ask an Atheist stickers on the day you're tabling (if they're willing). 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. Tabling is already a form of promotion, but you can encourage people ahead of time to make time to stop by. Alert members through social media and your email list. Chalking is another great way to draw attention to your table. Check out our Group Promotion and Media Relations guide for more ideas. This press release guide will help you if you decide to alert the media. 

Suggested Walkthrough:

  1. Find a date that works for your group, or go for the National Ask An Atheist date which is the third Thursday of April.
  2. Reserve the table space on campus.
  3. Acquire your materials, check back to the Material Requirements section.
  4. Schedule volunteers and post the schedule to your planning group or email list.
  5. Promote the tabling event by reaching out to religious groups.
  6. Remind volunteers of their schedule.
  7. Set up your table, answer questions, smile, take pictures, and have fun!
  8. Send us photos and a summary of your event! You can email photos to photos@secularstudents.org or submit a Brag It Up form and get a free book or other materials for your group.

One of our best resources to find out what works and what doesn't is you - our student leaders! If you've employed a strategy that worked well, let us know about it so other groups can also use that idea. If you've learned a lesson of caution about something we suggest, point out the pitfalls. You can email us at organizer@secularstudents.org!

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