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The Atheist Community of Austin
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  • 2022-07-06 12:48 PM | News Update (Administrator)

    In August of 2021, the Atheist Community of Austin was contacted by the family of David Kent. We were offered a wonderful collection of books for the Freethought Library, and we were both honored and thrilled. During the time that the Freethought Library was closed, we spent many happy hours opening the cartons of books and discovering familiar favorites as well as new titles for our shelves. Many had notes and news clippings tucked in the pages, adding to our sense of the individual who collected these books. We recently reached out to the family and asked for a few words about the man who put together the collection, and we are sharing their reply here:

    David L. Kent moved with his family to Austin in 1981 to work for Madalyn Murray O'Hair. He was a proofreader for her publication, American Atheist Magazine, and frequent contributor to Freethought Today, published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Mr. Kent became a founding member of the Atheist Community of Austin, and over the years made several appearances on The Atheist Experience. He campaigned for the removal of religion from Texas school textbooks, as well as the removal of the monument of the Ten Commandments at the Texas State Capitol. Here is a clip (The Atheist Experience, "Episode 002", October 26, 1997) in which he describes the monument, why it is unconstitutional, and gives background on the history of each engraving on the monument as well as information on the organization that erected it.

    Mr. Kent's freethought library has been donated to the Atheist Community of Austin on behalf of his family, who wish to preserve his unique and rare collection of books on the history of religion and its deleterious effects on societies worldwide. It is through his discovery of this subject matter that he was able to raise a generation of children free from religion, and his children now wish for his library to be publicly accessible to anyone curious about how to cultivate an evidence-based understanding of the world.

  • 2022-07-01 4:14 PM | News Update (Administrator)

    “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church, I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk.” This is what incumbent Congresswoman Lauren Boebert of Colorado said only days before she won her primary on Tuesday, June 28.  She’s up for reelection in November of this year.

    In TheWashington Post’s coverage of Boebert’s comments, multiple experts weighed in on her take about the separation of church and state. (Spoiler alert: none of the experts had her back.) 

    • Gwen Calais-Haase, a political scientist at Harvard University, told The Washington Post that Boebert’s interpretation of the Constitution was “false, misleading and dangerous.” Calais-Haase said she was “extremely worried about the environment of misinformation that extremist politicians take advantage of for their own gains.”

    • Steven K. Green, a professor of law and affiliated professor of history and religious studies at Willamette University, agreed, saying, “Rep. Boebert is wrong on both matters. While the phrase separation of church and state does not appear verbatim in the Constitution, neither do many accepted constitutional principles such as separation of powers, judicial review, executive privilege, or the right to marry and parental rights, no doubt rights that Rep. Boebert cherishes,” wrote Green, the author of “Separating Church and State: A History.”

    • Michael Steele, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, tweeted in reaction to Boebert’s comment a line from the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion.” “I can’t. Not today,” Steele wrote.

    Writing about this because this issue is in our wheelhouse. And, this issue seems to be the focus of a growing number of elected officials and appointees who welcome religion and prayer in government and federally-funded settings. CNN just published a feature with the headline, “How the Supreme Court is dismantling the separation of church and state,” noting that “The broadly worded decision is certain to invite more challenges by religious adherents and will likely increase displays of religion in schools and other public places.” 

    The first Position Statement of the Atheist Community of Austin is Religion-Government Separation. All of our Position Statements can be found here,, but sharing this one here:

    The ACA understands:

    • Article VI of the United States Constitution prohibits any religious test for public office

    • The First Amendment necessarily requires that our government remain neutral with regard to religion.

    • The Fourteenth Amendment extends amendments to the US Constitution to the state governments

    We believe that this neutral position ensures that no religion receives preferential treatment over another religion, or the lack of religion. We support the right of each individual to believe or disbelieve as they choose. We support the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs to the extent that such practice does not inhibit or infringe upon the rights and freedoms of others.

    The Atheist Community of Austin will be working harder to share these news stories, and the context that surrounds them, to our readers, viewers, and friends. When we see opportunities for action and involvement, we will share that as well. We will continue our work to educate and engage the community as we promote positive atheist culture and the separation of religion and government.

    *These statements represent the official positions of this organization and are not intended to represent the position of all atheists or ACA members.

  • 2022-07-01 3:56 PM | Anonymous

    When I joined the staff at the Atheist Community of Austin, it immediately felt like far more than accepting a job. I have been a nonprofit professional, a Director of Development, for almost three decades. But seldom have I felt so much like I was joining a community of kindred spirits on an issue that has been a significant part of my life as an individual. I was raised a Catholic–and for the first eighteen years of my life I tried to do my best with the faith into which I was born. But the questions, for me, began as early as elementary school, and continued to challenge my ability to live in faith. It started with small things that a child would ask–why was there no good answer as to what would happen to my best friend (Jewish) when she died? No one could or would reassure me that this wonderful human being, following the faith traditions of her family, would be welcomed into heaven. Yikes. And when it was time for confirmation (early 1970s), I wanted to take Patrick as my saint’s name–but was refused the option to take anything but the name of a female saint. (This was not any kind of challenge or introduction of gender fluidity. I was adopted and had been told I was of Irish descent, and I chose Patrick as an homage to one of the few bits of information I had about my ancestors.) This refusal to let me have a meaningful choice of a confirmation name hurt me on several levels, and I was also struck by the hypocrisy of the position, as many of the nuns I knew were sporting names like Sr. Wenceslaus, Sr. Michael, or Sr. Mary Willliam. As I got older, I struggled with other issues that left me struggling to find the compassion and continuity I wanted in a faith. My queer friends were, at best, welcomed to be Catholic as long as they didn’t say a word about their sexuality and lived in chastity. No one ever blinked an eye at the scattered cousins in our family who were the product of affairs with priests or seminarians. Birth control and R-rated movies were absolutely off the table. Girls were lectured relentlessly on maintaining virginity until marriage, no such lectures were shared with boys. And, a huge issue to me, women who wanted a career in the church were never going to lead a congregation. A nun might lead a school, a health care setting, or a convent–but she wasn’t worthy to minister to congregants. So by the time I was a college student, I found myself unable to weave together a faith that comforted me. This left a hole in my world, as I grew up in Texas and the Hispanic culture that was such an influence in my life was tightly entwined with the Catholic faith. But time and reason eventually led me to the realization that I truly didn’t believe in a god. I was then, and still am, okay with others who seek a community of faith, but I knew that wasn’t for me. (And I think many of those people value the community and traditions more than the faith in a higher power–but the heart wants what the heart wants.) So I began telling individuals I was an atheist. It didn’t come up a lot, outside of dating, but I didn’t waver and it became an essential truth, not something new, for me. Though I was aware there was stigma, and I sometimes punted to agnostic just to avoid unpleasantness. (I don’t do that now. At almost 60 years of age I’m not worried about unpleasantness on this front.)

    Still, I was an atheist without community. It never crossed my mind to “join” other atheists, even had I known they were out there, assembling or convening or doing outreach. Also, growing up in Texas in the 1960s and 1970s, I was aware of the bitter and bizarre headlines around Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Her activism was based in Texas and the venom directed at her was notable on the landscape of news and faith when I was coming of age. Then she disappeared, was found in an unmarked grave years later, dismembered and still an object of loathing. So being an atheist seemed a risky business, in any public or convening enterprise. So I was a loner atheist, raising atheist children, and far more concerned about Texas becoming ever more conservative than I was about practicing religion. (Note: I see the irony in that last line, but I was a single working mom and didn’t notice it so much then.)

    But now I have a chance to bring my nonprofit talents to bear in the company of a lot of dedicated, intelligent, compassionate, like-minded-on-atheism individuals. It has been a homecoming of sorts, unplanned and all the sweeter. I find the Position Statements of the Atheist Community of Austin to be in line with what I think is right and true. I think the separation of religion and government is very important, and I am thankful to work for a nonprofit with a mission that addresses this issue.

    And the things I am learning! It seemed like a good idea to write a blog “from my desk” to share the things I didn’t know about the ACA, Atheism, or related matters. Because the things I’m discovering are fascinating, important, and (in my opinion) not sufficiently discussed in everyday conversation. Many readers here may already know some, many, or all of what I’m sharing…but I think there will be others like me who find these bits of knowledge remarkable–and will want to take these thoughts to dinner parties, happy hours, family gatherings, and infinite other settings.

    So here’s a few things from the first weeks with the Atheist Community of Austin. I hope at least one thrills you, they have all added to my enjoyment of this work and made me proud to be an Atheist.

    Godless dollars. How did I never think about this??? A June 1964 New York Times article talks about the motto “In God We Trust” on bills being printed. From the article: “The new issues of United States notes bearing the national motto, “In God We Trust,” on the reverse design are becoming more common in circulation. The addition of the motto to the new bills is attracting attention to paper money in general…there is nothing irregular about bills without the motto. They are the product of normal printing procedures at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.” So one dollar bills that entered circulation before October 1957 don’t have the motto, and several issues of two dollar bills don’t have the motto, and some 2007 George Washington dollar coins were mistakenly struck without “In God We Trust” and made it past inspectors and into circulation. Regrettably, a 2018 circuit court of appeals ruled that the phrase "In God We Trust" does not violate the Constitution. The decision by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota came in response to an action brought by a group of atheists who contended that the national motto "In God We Trust" appearing on currency was a violation of the First Amendment clause against the establishment of a state religion and a violation of their freedom of speech.

    The Atheist Community of Austin has been broadcasting programming for more than twenty years. Originally appearing on Public Access television (now on the ACA YouTube channel), these programs have offered education, outreach, and a community for Atheists and those inclined to spar with Atheists on matters of faith and logic. I had NO IDEA that the selection of broadcasts had been around so long! And YouTube Channel analytics show that ACA programming had reached 187.4 million views. Wow. Fantastic that so many viewers have found these shows!

    Volunteers. Volunteers. Volunteers. Turns out the hosts and crew for all the Atheist Community of Austin programs have been volunteers from the start. The ACA has only recently hired staff crew (to manage the covid-pivot that allowed programming to be broadcast remotely during covid closures) and the hosts continue to be volunteering time and talent. This is a remarkable commitment. In all my years in the nonprofit sector I cannot think of a workplace where volunteers were so integral to the core programming of an organization. I have no words to convey the respect I have for the individuals who have made the ACA such a force for good, as volunteers, for decades.

    So those are three things that struck me as worth sharing. The first is a curiosity, and a reminder of the changes in our nation around religion and government. The second is a remarkable achievement for a nonprofit that too many people don’t even know exists. The third? That’s an indicator that I’m in the right place, working with people who truly care and have skin in the game. It is an honor to be doing the work I’ve been hired to do.

    More soon. We will learn together!


  • 2022-06-26 3:49 PM | News Update (Administrator)

    The Atheist Community of Austin’s various media outreach programs and activities afford us the opportunity to speak out on a number of issues. Atheism is misunderstood and misrepresented, and we feel it is important that our community has official, public positions* on a number of issues.

    Today we are posting about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which now allows states to ban abortions. Our ACA Position Statement on Reproductive Rights is that individual human rights necessarily include the premise of individual sovereignty with regard to decisions that affect one's person. You can read the full Position Statement on our website

    Atheist Community of Austin staff and leadership made a decision to start sharing information on where to get up-to-date information on available resources and calls to action. We are following the lead of nonprofits in the community and across the country who are leaders in the work to defend and protect reproductive rights–their work just took on an even greater significance.

    The United State of Women has information on national and state-by-state nonprofit organizations who will be working on individual services and safety as well as this issue at an advocacy level. Planned Parenthood has been fighting to defend reproductive rights and providing health care services for decades.

    In addition to the impact this SCOTUS decision has on individuals and families, impact that will vary by state, and impact that will be felt most greatly by those with the fewest resources, we know there is a growing sense of anger and frustration as we all watch rollbacks on rights and freedoms that have been part of the best of our nation’s progress. Please know that we will continue to build community through our programs, policies, and people. Take extra care of yourself now and in the future.

    *These statements represent the official positions of this organization and are not intended to represent the position of all atheists or ACA members.

  • 2022-06-16 11:32 AM | Anonymous

    The Atheist Community of Austin produces multiple shows weekly that use a call-in format to allow the exploration of ideas and afford opportunities to confront bigotry, hatred, and prejudice.

    One of ACA’s programs recently took a live call from an individual who had, in the past, personally attacked, by doxxing, harassing, and blackmailing, show hosts who are associated with another ACA program. We regret allowing this caller on an ACA show and apologize for any distress it may have caused. The caller’s behaviors are inconsistent with ACA’s values and we are concerned that allowing this caller airtime for any topic, on any ACA show, contradicts the ACA’s core positions. 

    The ACA is rigorously reviewing our policies to protect against a recurrence of this issue and further clarify show caller protocols. We are making these changes to safeguard our hosts and volunteers, to reinforce our commitment to our Position Statements,1 and to remove opportunities for individuals intent on finding venues to humiliate or harass others.

    Personally identifiable information has been removed to protect the identity of the individuals targeted. 

    1 ACA Position Statements include the following. Full text available. 


    • Religion-Government Separation

    • Human Rights


    • Religious Displays

    • Creationism and Intelligent Design

    • Public Education

    • Reproductive Rights

    • Trans Rights Are Human Rights

    • LGBTQ Equality

  • 2022-05-06 3:10 PM | Anonymous

    The Atheist Community of Austin is pleased to announce a new full-time staff member, Amy Price. She has accepted the job of Director of Development and Communications, a new position created in 2022 to support ACA through a period of unprecedented growth. Amy’s nonprofit experience spans twenty-five years and includes national recognition for her work. To date in her career, she has secured more than $150 million in nonprofit funding from philanthropic, corporate, and federal sources. She is a popular trainer at state and national conferences on the many facets of nonprofit revenue generation. We asked her to introduce herself to our members and friends, and here’s what she shared:

    “I could not be happier to have been hired by the Atheist Community of Austin. As an atheist, and a proud parent of atheists, I have a personal connection to the mission of ACA and am glad to be working with the board, volunteers, staff, members, and friends of the ACA to advance our mission. My experience with promoting nonprofit partnerships should be of particular use with ACA, as our work protecting personal freedoms lends itself to cooperative efforts with other entities who have a stake in maintaining and expanding the rights of individuals. As I am learning about the ACA’s rich and varied history, I am truly impressed with the quality and volume of volunteer engagement at every level—with talent from local, national, and international levels combining forces on programming. This is a resource that few nonprofits can boast, and it underscores the value members/friends of the ACA see for the work being done to reinforce the separation of religion and government. In the weeks and months to come, I hope to be communicating with many of you as I work to improve and create communication and engagement opportunities to strengthen the scope of ACA programming.

    On a personal note, I’m a native Texan who calls Austin home for many reasons—not the least of which is Barton Springs Pool, where I can be found swimming an hour every day, rain or shine. I'm an avid reader, a fan of live music, and prefer to be in a National Park when there's time off."

  • 2022-04-15 7:19 PM | Vern Graner (Administrator)

    We are pleased to announce that our board just approved our FY2020 990! We’ll be posting it to the website once the IRS accepts our filling.

    In an effort to adhere to best practices for nonprofits, we post all our tax returns on our website. Folks have been curious about why the last return posted is for 2019.

    Like many nonprofit organizations, the ACA operates on a fiscal year that is different from the calendar year. Our fiscal year is June 1 to May 31. This is the annual period ACA uses for accounting and financial purposes and for reporting to the IRS. Our annual 990 filing  is in concert with our fiscal year.

    To ensure our 990 filing is correct and meets all IRS requirements, we retained the services of Montemayor Britton Bender to manage and oversee the process of filing our tax return. We work hard to be totally transparent with our finances and seek to demonstrate our good stewardship of the funds donors like you entrust to us.

    If you ever have any questions, please feel free to reach out. We love hearing for you!

  • 2022-04-11 4:05 PM | Vern Graner (Administrator)

    Hi Folks! :) Here' a quick update on the Freethought Library building: We've made some improvements to the lighting and the back patio area with an eye towards restarting community events soon (safety precautions allowing).

    Also, the storage building in the back has had electricity, Internet, alarm, air conditioning, and insulation added so we can now use the shed to store items that require climate control. We have some plans for a grand re-opening in the near future so keep an eye out for announcements!

    ACA Freethought Library Rear ACA Freethought Library Building Front

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Austin, TX 78756


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