Although the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers, Inc. is non-religious in nature, it provides many of the same services to its members that religious organizations do, such as providing a community of like-minded people and opportunities for community service and fellowship. The 501(c)(3) non-profit social and educational organization Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers, Inc. (acronymized as IAF) was formed around 10 years ago by an ex-pastor, and now serves hundreds of atheists in the Des Moines metropolitan area.
Although some have claimed that IAF “is as much of a religion as any other system of belief,” IAF maintains that atheism is not a belief system but rather the absence of belief in supernatural deities. IAF lacks any unified statement of principles or overarching organized structure to promote or enforce such principles. As a result, the organization lacks any set practices or services, and many members refrain from participating in religiously-tied holidays like Christmas and Easter.
While many religious organizations reserve Sunday as a day of holy obligation, IAF hosts “Sunday Meetups” every week at 12pm to provide social opportunities for fellow atheists to connect. Since the organization is not tied to a specific worship space, their meetings can be hosted in a variety of locations. Although Sunday Meetups have previously been hosted in homes, restaurants, and gathering spaces, the most popular and common location that IAF is currently using is the Sam and Louie’s Italian Restaurant in Urbandale. While each of the meetings are wrapped up with announcements from the organization’s President, the majority of the event lacks any type of structure, as many members simply order food from the restaurant and spend the rest of their time socializing and discussing topics that they find relevant and interesting with their neighbors.
As a non-profit organization, IAF arranges a variety of educational events, conducts charitable donation drives, and participates in activist projects related to the separation of church and state. They are also active in community service projects like Adopt-A-Highway and the Planned Parenthood book drive. To become more involved in the organization, members must pay a small membership fee each year, which is put towards fundraising and organization events. Although many of their events are free to the public, paying members enjoy many benefits that are unavailable to non-paying members. They have the opportunity to run for a position within the organization, and have full-access to their educational library as well.
As a non-religious organization, IAF lacks any religious leaders. However, there are multiple leadership positions that IAF members can run for, including President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Members-at-Large. The members of IAF vote once a year to elect their candidates to each of the previously stated positions, and those holding office are responsible for organizing IAF events.
By Katie Schulz
- Sunday Meetups: 12pm at Sam and Louie’s Italian Restaurant, 8561 Hickman Rd, Urbandale (location subject to change)
- Phone: 515-770-8541
- Email: email@example.com
- Dress is casual.
- Bring money to pay for a meal at the restaurant.