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The Atheist Community of Austin
  • 2023-02-14 12:28 PM | News Update (Administrator)

    When it rains, it pours it seems. The Austin ice storm not only cracked a bunch of branches, but it created a backlog for arborists and tree trimming companies as they struggled to keep up with the sudden demand. So, though we reached out right away to the tree company that trimmed the branches above our building, we are still in a 3 week wait before they would be able to get to us.

    In the meantime, we had some windy days and one of the broken branches did come loose and fall on the roof- though it doesn't appear to have done any damage.


    And, if that's not enough, it seems that the little hot water heater we have in the building decided now was the time to spring a leak and attempt to flood the hallway outside the control room! Lucky for us, we had a volunteer in the building that day cataloging library books. They heard the dripping, found the leaky water heater, and got a bucket under it before the water could do extensive damage.


    We had Austin Water come by and turn off water to the building and now we're getting bids to replace the dead water heater.

    Once again, it just goes to show how all these things require vigilance and maintenance in order to keep them ready to support the mission of the ACA!

  • 2023-02-08 1:12 PM | News Update (Administrator)

    As many of you may already be aware, Austin, TX has had recent bouts of somewhat extreme weather. Most recently, we experienced an ice storm that led to wide spread power and internet outages.

    Luckily, the Freethought Library escaped the power outages and internet interruption, but we did have some tree damage.  

    The tree branches that cracked have not fallen on the roof .. yet.. but they look as if they could. As such we have reached out to the company that did the tree trimming last fall to come back and remove these limbs before they cause damage.

    Just another example of the myriad of things that require maintenance and attention to keep the wheels turning for our little non-profit. 



  • 2023-01-27 2:52 PM | News Update (Administrator)

    I'm sure you've noticed the regular drumbeat of news stories and social media commentary from religious folks claiming they are suppressed, censored,  or put-upon in some ways- persecuted for their faith. Its rare to hear news about how folks that are not religious are being directly, measurably harassed. So, as we are interested in evaluating real data, and not someone's personal perception, here's a recent PEW research study on the topic:

  • 2022-11-22 12:12 PM | News Update (Administrator)

    You may not know, but there is a U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that serves as an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government agency created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. The USCIRF exists to monitor the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad; makes policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress; and tracks the implementation of these recommendations. 

    The USCIRF just published their 2022 Annual Report, and (with all the appendices) it is 100 pages of information regarding what's happening in nations where governments repress religious freedom through laws and policies that coerce compliance with a particular religious interpretation, typically one that aligns with an official or state-favored religion. Governments. Coerce. Religion.

    This report centers on violations of religions freedom. It is a federal agency publication--so it is almost a technical read. (Hard to grasp that adjective being used on some levels, when the word 'torture' appears 32 times, 'killing' appears 17 times, 'flogging' appears 3 times, 'genocide' appears 35 times...well, you get the idea.) Documenting these violations is certainly important work, and getting the information out to decision makers (and the media and the world) matters, but it invariably feels so remote.

    But as I read through the report, I think about the ACA's programming. We hear from people from these countries (calls, comments, emails) because our shows on YouTube and other platforms have a reach that is remarkable. The work of the Atheist Community of Austin, for twenty-five years, has been to create programming dedicated to promoting atheism, critical thinking, secular humanism, and the separation of religion and government. There have been hundreds of program hosts through the years. There have been tens of thousands of volunteer hours donated by individuals who have been on camera and on the crews that make it happen.

    All to keep the space intact, the space where the conversations happen. The space where it is safe to declare oneself an atheist, or uncertain. A space that we should never take for granted. And if we do, a look at the report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom will remind us why this matters.

    Deepest respect for everyone who contributes their time and talent to this work. And profound gratitude for the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have found our shows and given even greater value to the investment of everyone involved in ACA programs.

  • 2022-10-02 8:01 PM | News Update (Administrator)

    The work of Matt Dillahunty as an Atheist Community of Austin (ACA) member, board member, board president, volunteer, and popular show host for the The Atheist Experience is but a part of his role in the greater world of atheism, secular humanism, and skepticism. Our organization, our members, and years of viewers have benefitted in countless ways from his engagement and passion. We are thankful to have been one of the many settings where an icon, a legend, and a friend has chosen to invest his energy and intellect.

    Matt has hosted ACA’s The Atheist Experience for almost 18 years, becoming a stand-out personality on a roster of charismatic hosts since that show’s inception in October of 1997. Beyond his work on The Atheist Experience, Matt has been seen on countless stages around the world in the company of other luminaries who promote and protect the perspective and rights of an appreciative and growing demographic of non-believers. His commitment to the value of debate is such that losing an argument to Matt Dillahunty is almost the conferring of an honor–or at least a recognized rite of passage. Vern Graner, Board Chair, President and CEO of the ACA, remembers, 

    “The first episode of The Atheist Experience I ever watched featured Matt Dillahunty and Jeff Dee. Over the years, so many hosts on The Atheist Experience and other ACA shows have made a huge positive impact in so many people's lives. Matt in particular has been a central figure in the atheist movement and has performed an amazing service for the ACA and for our fans.

    I agree with Matt that the mission of the ACA is the most important thing to consider in the current regressive climate in which we find ourselves. It is crucial that we stay focused on the mission and work to carry it forward. Over the last 25+ years, Matt and other volunteers have given countless hours of their time to make all the shows at the ACA possible.

    I am truly grateful for anyone and everyone that helps carry the burden with us. I wish Matt the best in his future endeavors, and I look forward to the continued success of the ACA, its shows, and its mission.”

    All this to say that the Atheist Community of Austin has much respect and affection for Matt Dillahunty and we wish him all the best as he leaves the host chair of The Atheist Experience. We look forward to hearing from him and about him for Matt will certainly continue to challenge himself and all of us to bring our “A game” to the work.

  • 2022-09-30 12:33 PM | Anonymous

    The Atheist Community of Austin is dedicated to promoting atheism, critical thinking, secular humanism, and the separation of religion and government.

    This month the Atheist Community of Austin’s Board of Directors made a change to our mission statement. The new statement, above, now includes critical thinking and secular humanism.

    So why a change?

    Nonprofit organizations are required to have a clearly stated charitable purpose to acquire and maintain their tax exempt status. This is commonly known as a 501(c)3 nonprofit designation from the IRS. Best practices suggest that nonprofits should review their mission statement every two or three years.

    So purpose is a very significant element.

    Nonprofits create a mission statement to describe their purpose.

    A nonprofit’s mission statement is ideally brief, clear, and inspiring.

    As part of our review and revision process, we solicited input from staff and volunteers (including our incredible show hosts and crew) before finalizing and voting on the new mission statement. In the words of our Board Chair, “We absolutely benefited from engagement with folks in our organization on the issue, and adding critical thinking was part of the consensus of our larger organization, including hosts.” Feedback included not only suggestions for wording–but often the thought processes informing those suggestions, and wry and humorous asides about this process and the world in which we live.

    Sharing some of the feedback here:

    “The path to atheism that we have consistently advocated is one of reasoned critical thinking (skepticism) and not atheism merely via intuition.”

    “Were we using the word “positive” deliberately or unintentionally? As “positive atheism” is a thing, the question becomes ‘does the ACA mission statement intend to declare that we promote Positive Atheism, or was the word positive intended to be an adjective (in the vein of “upbeat”) describing (atheist) culture?’”

    “...thanks for this opportunity, and I look forward to hearing the thoughts -- not "thoughts and prayers" -- of others.”

    “Lastly, I'm just a volunteer and understand that even if I raised a stink it wouldn't have mattered. I do appreciate it being asked of everyone though.”


    Wondering what changed?

    Here’s the previous mission statement: The Atheist Community of Austin is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting positive atheist culture and the separation of religion and government.


    Why a mission statement at all?

    There are rules and regulations that govern nonprofit organizations. To be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3). Further, the Atheist Community of Austin is registered as a nonprofit corporation with the Texas Secretary of State. A lot of people don’t realize that nonprofits (or charitable organizations, if you prefer) are corporations–and like any business we cope with insurance, payroll, budgeting, employee handbooks, audits, strategic planning, copyrights, risk management, tech issues, etc.

    What’s different about tax exempt nonprofits is that the work is limited to purposes that are defined as charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals. The term charitable is used in its generally accepted legal sense and includes relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erecting or maintaining public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening neighborhood tensions; eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency. (That’s all language from the IRS website.)

  • 2022-08-16 3:35 PM | News Update (Administrator)

    August 28th is the next “final Sunday of each month” that will find us back in the studio with live broadcasts and a lively studio audience. If you are in Austin, consider making plans to join us for live broadcasts of Talk Heathen (1-2:30 pm) followed by The Atheist Experience (4:30-6 pm). Guests are invited to stay for both or either or simply stop by to reconnect with everyone! Doors open at noon, and parking is "where you can find a legal spot" after the lot is full. Matt Dillahunty & Jim Barrows will be hosting The Atheist Experience and Johnny P. Angel & Student Doctor Ben will be hosting Talk Heathen. No ticket required, come on over.

    July 31st was our first day back in the studio in two years, and it was a wonderful return. Over the course of the day we had almost sixty friends and fans join us in the studio audience and the “back room” where there was a bit more conversation during the broadcasts. The time before, between, and after the shows was a great time to meet new people or share a few words with a favorite host. We ordered pizzas at 6 pm to wind down the day.

    Vern Graner (ACA Board Chair) has been behind the scenes doing tech and production (and, well, everything!) for years and he put in a tremendous amount of time getting things ready indoors and out for our guests. We asked him how it felt, as an ACA leader and as part of the crew, being back in the studio after years of pandemic closures and remote broadcasts. 

    “There’s such a contrast between operating the business side of the organization and being on the ground meeting people at the building and running the tech to support the live show. There’s a lot of work to do to manage the organization, but there’s equally much to do when setting up mics and choosing frequencies for wireless mics, balancing the speakers, getting remote stations set up for call screeners, etc. So for me, switching gears from management to tech crew was the biggest change. There’s that feeling of getting back on a bike, after a few years, right back into the swing of live shows. The cadence is so familiar, the ups and downs. It felt great being back in and doing this work, though I will admit that on Sunday most of the people I got to speak with were the folks I talk to every day. ACA crew. When we arrived to open the studio we were still oscillating between terror at being overrun and worry that we wouldn’t fill the chairs. That degree of nervousness was in the background about every aspect of the return to the studio. What if something goes wrong? If the PA goes out, or we lose the internet? Everything has to go right for the show to go off. Anyone who understands this work knows what I mean when I say it ultimately feels awesome when the systems you put into place actually work right. And there were new elements for the first live broadcasts. Remote call screeners with hosts in the studio was a first. The control room only had two of us, everyone else was remote–the call screeners, video director, and camera operator. Still, it all came together. A mic that didn’t work (loose connection) at the start of The Atheist Experience was the only significant technical problem. Nothing else interrupted the flow of the show. For me, when the intro rolls is a favorite moment, at that point it’s a go and all the work is coming to a point. Like when the roller coaster clicks and climbs to the top of that first climb and then it all happens.”

    We caught up with the hosts for those first two shows, and here’s what they had to say.

    Christy Powell (The Atheist Experience) "The energy being back in the studio was amazing. The chemistry with your co-host, charged up by the crowd and connection to the crew make everything about the show so much more electric. It was amazing to reconnect with the community and see so many people engaged with the mission of spreading positive atheism."

    ObjectivelyDan (Talk Heathen) “I am not the type to get nervous when doing any kind of public speaking, but I think being back in the studio gave me a kind of nervous energy that I haven't had since I first started hosting. It was great to be back and see everyone in person, and I'm looking forward to more.”

    Jim Barrows (The Atheist Experience and Talk Heathen on July 31st!) “It was familiar and strange.  Wonderful and strange. I loved the audience questions, and I’m glad that got added. It was a little strange, and not perfect, but it’ll get better. Can’t wait to get back there.”

    All this to say, "JOIN US IN AUGUST!" 

    Doors open at noon.

    ACA Freethought Library and Studio 

    1507 West Koenig Lane

    Austin, TX 78756

  • 2022-07-26 3:59 PM | News Update (Administrator)

  • 2022-07-19 1:06 PM | News Update (Administrator)

    The Atheist Community of Austin is working to upgrade communications with supporters and friends, expanding beyond the engagement with fans of the popular programs we broadcast. In recent weeks we have begun sharing news about atheists and atheism on our Facebook page, and we are working to include other social media platforms in the weeks ahead. With 30 days of effort to review, we have learned a few things!

    1. Wow. If you DO NOT steward your social media for a while, the analytics when you DO are really impressive. Those 500%+ improvements are shockingly exciting, but then you remember it isn't hard to come up from a low bar.

    2. There is a lot of news that connects to atheism and the position statements of the ACA. We are hoping that, over time, readers will follow us on the platforms of their preference to keep informed of the news on these matters.

    3. Outside of Texas, our reach is highest in NYC and Portland, Oregon. 

    4. Among those who like us on Facebook, 71.1% identify as men. (A bit of searching on the internet suggests that Facebook began offering other options to male or female in 2014.)

    5. Happily, the MOST POPULAR post so far was about ACA returning to in-person events. We are pretty happy about that too!

  • 2022-07-08 1:35 PM | News Update (Administrator)

    For the last two years, the Atheist Community of Austin has suspended in-person events as part of COVID safety measures. Prior to the closures in March of 2020, there was a live broadcast every Sunday (The Atheist Experience and Talk Heathen), Friday (Truth Wanted), Thursday (Secular Sexuality), and Wednesday (Non Prophets) weekly for years. At that time, all the hosts and most guests were in the studio at the ACA Freethought Library located on Koenig Lane here in Austin. (Indeed, a silver-lining of the pandemic has been significant upgrading of our tech capacity for remote hosting which has allowed us to work with even more wonderful hosts and guests.)

    Now, we’re returning to LIVE EVENTS!

    We have been working to ready the ACA site for months. Testing all the production equipment of course, and the studio, library, meeting space, and outdoor areas are getting cleaned, re-organized, and prepped for guests.

    Last Sunday of Every Month: The current plan is to resume live broadcasts on the last Sunday of every month–and we could not be more excited!

    July 31, 2022: Our grand re-opening as it were! First up is Talk Heathen (1-2:30 pm) followed by The Atheist Experience (4:30-6 pm) and you are invited to stay for both or either or simply stop by to reconnect with everyone! (Doors open at 11 am so anyone who wants to get a good seat or lend a hand can be there then!) Jim Barrows and Christy Powell will be hosting The Atheist Experience and Objectively Dan will be hosting Talk Heathen. Please, put this date on your calendar and join us. More details here and on social media as we get closer to the date. 

    August 27, 2022: Bat Cruise 2022! We have chartered the boat, the bats are roosting under the Congress Avenue Bridge, and we are looking forward to a wonderful BYOB/F(ood) evening with our ACA community of friends. Details on purchasing tickets will be shared soon, but now you have the date for summer scheduling!

    Gatherings at the Freethought Library: Our intention is to return to game nights, great conversations, and speaker series events in September of 2022. We are working with our wonderful volunteers to schedule a collection of opportunities for convening and building community. More details here and on social media as we finalize dates and times!




1507 West Koenig Lane

Austin, TX 78756


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