LOS ANGELES (RNS) — Revealing that you are an atheist can be a real conversation starter, but those conversations rarely go beyond the question of your beliefs, or lack thereof. A new podcast network for secularist thinkers, Atheists United Studios, attempts to show that there’s more to atheism than a simple denial of God’s existence.
Evan Clark, the executive director for the nonprofit Atheists United, which is spearheading the new network of podcasts, said the idea behind it is to shed light on the “experiences that come after you’ve become an atheist,” as opposed to focusing on theology or on debating theism. Atheists United Studios aims to serve as a hub for atheist and humanist podcast fans.
“We’re trying to talk about the ethical questions that you deal with in your day-to-day life, not simply whether a God exists or not,” said Clark.
The launch comes as recent surveys show an explosion of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated, rising to 29% of the U.S. population in 2021, up from 19% in 2011. Many of these are young people: Some 35% of younger millennials are unaffiliated.
Commonly referred to as “nones” (for their “none of the above” reply to questions about their connections to faith communities), religiously unaffiliated people cover a wide range of beliefs, comprising atheists, agnostics, humanists and secularists. These groups have established several service and advocacy organizations to help coordinate their service to others and to speak as a single voice on social and political issues.
Now this sector is broadening its organizing into media, with the young, secular and largely untapped demographic as its key audience. Earlier this year, OnlySky Media launched to help guide an “exploration of a post-religious world.” Atheists United Studios launched Sept. 14.
The five-episode first season of “Nomadic Humanist,” the first original show produced in-house by Atheists United Studios, debuted its first episodes on the same day the network launched. The show will “explore how individuals without a single fixed home or community live out humanist values.” It’s hosted by Anya Overmann, who began living a nomadic lifestyle after the pandemic and runs her content marketing business from her traveling office. Overmann writes and speaks internationally about humanism.
The network has also recruited two established shows, “Beyond Atheism,” hosted by Nathan Alexander and Todd Tavares, and “The Humanist Experience,” hosted by Evan Clark and Sérah Blain. These two will anchor the network while they produce new original content.
The host of his own podcast, “Humanist Experience,” Clark, who founded the Secular Student Alliance at California Lutheran University, has been Atheists United’s executive director since 2019.
He sees the 40-year-old organization’s mission as building community for atheists. The group, headquartered in Los Angeles, has hosted a “recovering from religion” support group and an addiction recovery program that’s an alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous. It runs a monthly food bank and has taken stargazing trips to Death Valley.
Atheists United boasts more than 5,000 people on its email lists, over 16,000 followers on Facebook and more than 8,000 on YouTube. They have chapters in San Luis Obispo, which is located in California’s Central Coast, and Santa Clarita, a city north of Los Angeles, and are recruiting in Orange County in Southern California and San Jose in the Bay Area.
Clark has spent much of the last year building out the podcast platform as a home for the most prominent atheist podcasts. He has structured contracts for the network’s content creators, designed logos and crafted brands for each of the shows.
“The goal of the network is to help these content creators, who would be producing great stuff on their own, be more successful because they’re working with others,” Clark said.
“We hope that we can leverage the talents and experience of the people who live here, and capitalize on the amazing speakers, storytellers and intellectuals that come through Los Angeles on a regular basis,” Clark added.
National reporter Yonat Shimron contributed to this report.