GENERAL COMMUNITY CONDUCT STANDARDS FOR THE ATHEOPAGAN COMMUNITY
Atheopaganism seeks to create safe, inclusive, and sacred space. Atheopagan events, online spaces, and gatherings are intended to be guided by the 13 Atheopagan Principles, including most specifically Inclusiveness, Social Responsibility, and Kindness and Compassion. We embrace as an ethic that we treat one another well, that we respect and embrace difference, and that we mean well for our fellow humans and the world generally. We welcome people of all races, all colors, all gender identifications, all ages and sexual orientations, and we welcome those who through differences of life situation, background, and physical or mental ability, shape or condition increase our diversity.
As a part of the expression of these Principles, we make reasonable accommodations for those who need them, such as inclusion of image descriptions in our posts to social media, ensuring access for those in wheelchairs, and providing space for those with physical limitations to sit or otherwise be comfortable.
When confronted with unkindness–or, worse, with bigotry–we point this out, but with an eye to the education of the person who expressed it. Maybe they double down, in which case they may need to be removed for the safety of the group. But maybe they learn, and better themselves and our community.
This is not to say that oppressed peoples are responsible for educating those who oppress them. For oppressed people to become angry in such cases is natural and appropriate, and it is a part of the work of people of the dominant culture to sit with this anger, to seek to understand and learn from it. That said, expressions of anger need not and should not cross over into abuse. Expressing anger or any other “negative” emotions is not inherently disrespectful. But it can be done without attacking, strawmanning, name calling, using extreme sarcasm or other intentionally hurtful ways of treating the other person.
Atheopaganism supports consent culture. Affirmative consent to any physical contact or sexually intimate communication must be secured prior to such contact. This includes hugging.
Affirmative consent is a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in physical contact or sexual activity (which can include online sexual activity). Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
- Consent to any act or prior consensual activity between or with any party does not necessarily constitute consent to any other act.
- Consent given once does not necessarily constitute consent to perform the same act again.
- Consent is required regardless of whether the person initiating the act is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
- Consent may be initially given but withdrawn at any time.
- Consent cannot be given when a person is incapacitated, which occurs when an individual lacks the ability to knowingly choose to participate in activity. Incapacitation may be caused by the lack of consciousness or being asleep, being involuntarily restrained, or if an individual otherwise cannot consent. Depending on the degree of intoxication, someone who is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants may be incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.
- Consent cannot be given as a result of coercion, intimidation, force, or threat of harm.
- When consent is withdrawn or can no longer be given, activity must stop.
Consent policies apply to online communications as well. Unwelcome and uninvited sexual advances constitute harassment. Harassment can include:
- Attempts to initiate or solicit unwelcome sexually explicit conversation or personal details
- Sending unsolicited explicit images
- Abusive language, insults, slurs, or attempts at coercion
Standards of Conduct and Grievances
As Atheopagans, we endeavor to create an environment which is safe, responsible, and egalitarian. We celebrate inclusion, diversity, love, and mutual respect. We do not accept:
- Physical or verbal threats, or violence of any kind
- Harassment, bullying, coercion in any way or unwelcome sexual or physical attention
- Hostile and disrespectful speech or actions
If you are feeling harassed, ask the harasser to stop, if you are willing. If you are unwilling or unable to ask or the harassment does not stop, approach a group or event organizer and ask for help. Organizers will investigate and intervene in what they see as an appropriate manner. If you wish, organizers will contact authorities, nonprofit resources such as a sexual assault crisis center, and/or the Atheopagan Council for you.
If you are asked to stop any harassing behavior, you are expected to stop immediately. If a participant engages in harassing behavior, Atheopagan events and affinity groups retain the right to take any action to keep our spaces a welcoming environment for all participants. These actions can include warning the participant(s) or expulsion from the group, event or future events. Any admission fee to the group or event will not necessarily be refunded if this occurs.
Atheopagan event and group organizers are not, however, arbiters of interpersonal conflict. We expect participants in all Atheopagan events and activities to maintain the standards of conduct outlined above at all times and to resolve their differences in a civil manner if no harassment has taken place.
If the complaint is very serious or you do not feel safe going to event or group organizers to notify them of abuse or harassment, you may contact the Secretary of the Atheopagan Society Council at APGrievance@comcast.net. Please specify the events as you experienced them, with details. The Council will investigate and take appropriate action. This can take a few days. If you are in immediate danger, get to a safe place and/or contact police immediately.
Children under 13 must be under the direct supervision of a guardian (or other arranged responsible supervision) at all times. Children aged 13 through 17 may participate independently in the activities of the group or event with the permission and availability of a guardian.
There is no photography or recording during rituals. Outside of ritual, photography is only allowed with the advance permission of the subject(s). Please be considerate that not all Atheopagans are “out” in their communities, and they may wish not to be photographed. This includes taking screenshots in online forums. What is discussed in online forums is to be kept private to the participants therein.
Atheopagan groups are generally intended to be flat in power structure. Rather than having one or more “leaders,” our path encourages egalitarian participation in decision making and group dynamics. This doesn’t mean that temporary leaders aren’t sometimes chosen (say, to coordinate a ritual, lead a meeting or take on a task assignment), but these should indeed be temporary. As we suggest with the lower-case spelling of Atheopagan cleric, leadership roles in the Atheopagan community are service roles to the broader group, not power-over authoritarian positions.
If there are problems in your group and you really aren’t able to resolve them yourselves, guidance may be available from the Atheopagan Society Council. Send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will reply to you as soon as possible.
The ritual circle provides a space for creative exploration. It is a place where we come together to empower one another.
Group activities such as rituals also require consent. Participants should know what to expect in a ritual or other activity, and must affirmatively consent to it, particularly if the ritual or activity may contain elements which could cause them to be uncomfortable. Examples of such elements could include nudity, presence of drugs or alcohol, or expectation of disclosure of personal information.
Within the consenting context of group ritual, you have an opportunity to explore creatively, test your boundaries, and challenge your limitations. We all have a role in making this circle safe. Making a personal commitment to your own safety is a powerful way to support your creative process. You are empowered to be the guardian of your own experience. You choose when and how you wish to interact with other members of the circle. If you are uncomfortable, challenged, or overwhelmed, ask yourself how you can respond constructively to the situation. Do you need transformational support? To talk directly with someone? To set an explicit boundary with someone? To take a break from the circle? To stick with your process? Do what you need to do, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you feel drawn to interact with someone in the circle, please be conscious of whether that person is inviting you in. Don’t take it personally if someone declines to interact with you. Respect that request. They are doing their own work. If someone approaches you looking for help, please take the time to listen and take their concerns seriously. If you are not in a place to help, find someone who can. We support each other with our attention and understanding.
Being part of this community carries an agreement to treat each other with respect and to honor each other’s boundaries.
Atheopagan events are intended to be places where we can bring our whole selves – not just what’s wonderful but also the imperfections, the parts that feel broken, the parts we may be ashamed of. We may not agree with everything that each person does or says, but we hold space for each other to come together in our imperfection and our humanity and to be transformed.
These standards and policies will be reviewed and updated periodically by the Atheopagan Society Council.