In Florida, the Atheist Community of Polk County organized a number of community service events and an awareness campaign to advocate that “fellowship” doesn’t require “faith”.
The community service was part of an annual effort to celebrate a country-wide Secular Week of Action instead of observing the National Day of Prayer — which was set aside in the United States federal law for people of faith to pray for the nation on the first Thursday in May.
Instead of observing a day of prayers, the Atheists organized service programs and this year’s focus is on compassionate response to homelessness and hunger — which were aggravated because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The nonprofit secular group which covers the metro areas of Lakeland and Winter Haven runs several ongoing projects to address social issues. They even partnered with a church in a unique food pantry alliance as a direct response to the ongoing pandemic.
The project, called It Takes a Village, has volunteers to deliver food pantry supplies directly to the houses of recipients who may be isolated or unable to visit the pantry.
These local atheists also have a group of “Street Warriors” to provide hot meals to the homeless and a Backpack Program that gives weekend groceries for grade-school students.
With the slogans ‘Good without God’, ‘Community without Church’, and ‘Fellowship without Faith,’ the Polk County Atheists Co-founder Sarah Ray says that one of the most important things the group gives is a sense of community.
“We want to let other nonbelievers know that there is a secular community where they can turn to,” Ray said. “And we want to challenge the misconceptions and stereotypes about atheists. We are good people, we’re your neighbors, co-workers, and friends.”
The atheist community also provided a secular invocation at the Polk County Board of County Commissioners Meeting two days before the National Day of Prayer.
“Providing secular invocations gives us an opportunity to remind elected officials at all levels that nonbelievers exist in their constituency,” Ray concluded.