Building Community, Core Values and Leadership

Recently, the Atheopagan Society launched a new program for the community: affinity groups. These are small groups organized around topics of common interest or geographical areas, where Atheopagans can interact, learn, support and get to know one another better. They meet on whatever platforms they choose (or in real life, when safe), and are not moderated by the Society or by the community’s Facebook or Discord moderators. While we have provided forums for asking questions and seeking support, the groups are generally self-managed.

I have been careful since the time that Atheopaganism started to catch on with other people to stipulate that I may be the originator of this path and a leader within it, but I’m not the “Atheopagan pope”. By the very nature of our religious values, we don’t have one of those, and never will. I have seen what happens when people start accumulating power and lording over others in the Pagan community, and it is not pretty. It is a formula for corruption and abuse. If I have anything to say about it, it will never happen to us.

Still, I do speak up for the tenets that define Atheopaganism. There are beliefs and perspectives that fall within the definition of what constitutes Atheopaganism, and there are those which do not. If, for example, you don’t subscribe to a naturalistic cosmology, to the Four Pillars and the Atheopagan Principles, you’re not following the path of Atheopaganism. You may be some other variety of nontheist Pagan, but you’re not an Atheopagan.

And that is fine: people should follow the paths that work for them.

The point in making this distinction, though, is to ensure that the core vision of this path isn’t watered down until it comes to have no meaning. We have therefore asked that the founders of affinity groups affirm a charter which states that the group embraces the Four Pillars and 13 Principles of Atheopaganism, and our community conduct standards, as they launch their groups. Inviting the founding of affinity groups in this manner is a way for us to remain true to our vision of human agency and decentralized power, and also true to the values of the path itself.

We see leadership as a path of service, not authority or status, and so we celebrate the organizers of these affinity groups just as we celebrate Atheopagan clerics ordained at the Society website for their good works in the world.

Thank you, to each of you.

You can’t have a real community if you don’t trust and empower its members. I’m excited about the two affinity groups I have joined and wish the very best for the many groups that have formed thus far.

Onward!

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