Atheism expands on the Western Slope

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Put simply, Atheism means "without religion" and lately the Western Slope has seen more and more secular groups banding together.

The Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers group was founded in 2007 to act as the secular voice of Western Colorado. Since then their group has expanded, adding even another branch outside of Grand Junction.

"There is a growing number of secular people here and there is discrimination against people with a secular point of view," Anne Landman from the Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers said.

The group began as a way for the secular community to come together, discuss ideas and have a voice, but according to Landman, many don't want others to know their beliefs.

"They don't want to reveal that they have a secular viewpoint in their work places," Landman said. "They're afraid of losing their jobs."

They meet once a month at the Laughing Dog Coffee Shop in Grand Junction. During meetings the group discusses issues regarding the separation of church and state. They also take action on other humanitarian movements and volunteering opportunities.

"The community is the best part of it," Keenan Ventling from CMU's Secular Student Alliance said. "It's just a bunch of people who want to do good and want to promote secular thought."

The organization also partners with a number of groups like Humanists Doing Good and CMU's chapter of Secular Student Alliance.

This week a branch even began in Montrose for those who are unable to make the trek to Grand Junction every month.

"They have a really conservative community that has an extreme religious focus and they had no place to find each other and to address issues down their of separation of church and state," Landman said.

Several members explained that they hope the Western Slope Atheists and Freethinkers continues to grow and encourage more people to be open about their beliefs.

"Its hugely gratifying to have this kind of community," Landman said. "There are people that really depend on our group."

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