Kay Dickey decided she was atheist at age 12. Her parents were not religious and accepted her epiphany, despite living in a predominantly Mormon section of Utah.
“It felt like a cloud went off my shoulders,” Dickey said.
Her story of acceptance contrasts with those of other Central Oregon Atheists members, a group the now 64-year-old woman is organizing.
The Meetup group started in 2008 and has 409 members, ranging from teenagers to octogenarians. Less than 10 members attended the April 17 meeting in a Bend motel conference room. While Dickey is the primary organizer, there is no board or bylaws; there are weekly breakfast meetups that other Central Oregon Atheists members arrange.
While 3.1 percent of Americans identify themselves as atheists, more than 20 percent say they do not affiliate with a religion, according to a Pew Research Center study. More than 35,000 Americans over age 18 were polled for the 2014 Religious Landscape Study.
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