Herding Cats at the North Texas Church of Freethought

by Luke Muehlhauser on March 12, 2010 in General Atheism,Video

Dr. Zach (of the excellent Evolution 101 podcast) talks about ‘herding cats’ (bringing atheists together) at the North Texas Church of Freethought. I’ve written about this concept before, here.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

TXCHLInstr March 12, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Ironically, Dr. Zach is no longer a member of the NTCoF. In December, he was ejected from the organization. When I found out what happened, I immediately notified the board that I was no longer interested in being associated with NTCoF. A large group of former NTCoF members split off, and formed the Fellowship of Freethought Dallas (FoFD). The website for the new organization is http://fellowshipoffreethought.org/


lukeprog March 12, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Huh! I had no idea.


svenjamin March 12, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Well, it’s comforting to know that atheists can so successfully replicate the splintering aspect of american religious institions.


TXCHLInstructor March 12, 2010 at 5:44 pm

One of the members that split off with us made the same observation. Guess we are just human. My reason for leaving the NTCoF was that I did not care to be a member of an organization with a self-appointed pope-wannabe in it. The details of the split are rather weird. Up until the pope-wannabe (who shall remain nameless) sprung his warped idea of the bylaws on us as a fait accompli, I was set to be one of the 3 members of the board of directors of the newly incorporated NTCoF, with the CoF as the parent organization. Once I figured out what he had done, and realized that it was a personal vendetta against Zach, I realized that NTCoF had become a cult of personality, and I wanted no part of it. At the time I quit, I had been a CoF member for over 9 years.

BTW, Zach is the acting executive director of the FoFD, but I noticed that he is deliberately exerting only minimal influence on the FoFD, and allowing a coalition of others to effectively run the organization. Unlike the pope-wannabe, Zach actually “gets it”. I think FoFD is going to be a much more robust (and fun) ‘church’ as a result. The group is largely the same bunch of people that made up NTCoF; we just excommunicated the pope-wannabe. This bunch of cats did not want to be herded.

But we did organize our own group, and became financially viable in less than 6 weeks, starting from scratch.


Hermes March 12, 2010 at 6:00 pm

TXCHLInstr: The website for the new organization is



svenjamin March 12, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Haven’t watched the video yet, still on university campus..

I just don’t think “atheism” is a very effective locus for a community. Atheists frequently have to explain that atheism isn’t a belief system, we just lack belief. Attempting to organize a community around a lacked belief seems pretty futile.

What we need is a proxy belief that we find compelling yet do not take too seriously, which is the perfect opening for me to bring up European death metal (of the “folk metal” subvariety) and neo-paganism again.

But there is a reason I am still on campus at 9:30pm on a Friday evening, and I should get back to it.


lukeprog March 12, 2010 at 9:38 pm


Funny you should mention that… Dr. Zach says he wants us to adopt the ‘freethought’ label.


micthacks March 14, 2010 at 2:41 pm

freethought is better.

I like what Svenjamin said. I tend to invest in people with similar values to me, as opposed to those who subscribe to similar beliefs. That way I can appreciate people from all types of backgrounds and cut across the labels, and then there’s also much less fear of social reprimand about where the values take you.


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