Who We Are
Minnesota Atheists is Minnesota's oldest and largest atheist organization. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, educational organization that seeks to promote the positive contributions of atheism to society and to maintain separation of state and church.
Our bylaws are available here. Each year we hold eight monthly meetings with guest speakers (Jan.-May, Sept.-Nov.), three picnics (June-Aug.), a Winter Solstice banquet (Dec.), and four Quarterly Business/Members Meetings.
We have a full calendar of events, such as dinners, movie nights, game nights, discussion groups, book clubs, and many others. To find out about these events, sign up for A.W.E. - Atheists Weekly E-mail, or join our Meetup.
We produce a public access cable TV program, "Atheists Talk," and a weekly podcast of the same name.
We offer speakers to the community free of charge. We specialize in presentations to high school and community college comparative religion classes.
The 2016 Board
Minnesota Atheists is a democratic organization with elected representatives who serve on the board for a one year term unless reelected. Nominations are in January and elections are in February with the new board taking effect March 1st. Nominees need to be paying members in good standing for at least one year prior to the date of election; Director-at-Large nominees need only be members for 6 months prior. If you are interested in joining the 2017 Board, make sure your membership is current and let us know that you're interested!
You may click on the board member's name to email them directly. General inquiries to the board can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
President, Alyssa Ehni
Alyssa is excited to have been nominated for President of Minnesota Atheists. She has been active within Minnesota Atheists by co-hosting our volunteer event at The Family Place, hosting a craft beer meet-up, participating in our Toastmasters club, and attending game nights at Godless Gamers. Alyssa enjoys the wonderful community she has found within Minnesota Atheists and looks forward to continuing to foster fellowship and furthering Minnesota Atheists’ mission of Positive Atheism in Action.
Associate President, Art Kallenbach
After being raised in a moderately religious Lutheran family in Coon Rapids Art unceremoniously realized he was an atheist approximately 30 years ago. Several years ago he was invited to a debate a Pastor was having with August Berkshire. Impressed by the debate and the work Minnesota Atheists was doing, Art became a member a few years ago. Then he served on the board this past year as a director-at-large. With the membership's approval Art looks forward to serving as associate president this coming year.
Chair, Heather Hegi
Heather is honored to have been nominated as chair. This last year she served as secretary, and the previous three years she served as chair. Heather is happy to serve in any role, but she does think that the role of chair fits her well. She is dedicated to the organization and seeing that we are as effective as possible. Heather is a passionate atheist who sees religious thinking as harmful to society, suppressing science and critical reasoning. Since religions are widespread, she thinks this organization is an important voice of reason.
Associate Chair, Georgia Hancock Tsoi
This will be Georgia’s 3rd year to serve on the board. She is a longtime member of Minnesota Atheists and has enjoyed seeing the increase in members and participation. She shares Minnesota Atheists’ goals of educating the public about atheism and promoting the separation of church and state. Georgia is an open atheist in her community and career and encourages others to be open and to educate their friends and family about atheism. She is continuing her role as librarian for Minnesota Atheists and is on the Public Policy Committee. Georgia looks forward to more opportunities to learn and grow with the Minnesota Atheists board this year.
Secretary, Tim Berry
Tim is proud to have been nominated as secretary for Minnesota Atheists. He lives in Saint Paul and is an officer in Freethought Toastmasters. Tim’s passion is reading and he has been a regular at the Little Canada Book Club for years. Looking at retirement he is excited that he now has more time to devote to helping Minnesota Atheists to nurture a community we all can look to for comradeship, mutual support and a voice for us in public affairs. Tim wishes to work for the scientific world view to thrive, and realizes this will require all of our dedication of time and resources.
Treasurer, Chris Matthews
Chris appreciates the opportunity to continue to serve as treasurer of Minnesota Atheists, a position he has held since 2011. This role suits him well since he enjoys working with numbers and computers. Chris is a Minnesota native and a life member of Minnesota Atheists. Positive atheism and keeping church and state separate are two values he holds in high regard, and he is glad to do his part to help Minnesota Atheists pursue these values.
Director-at-Large, August Berkshire
When August sits at a Minnesota Atheists board of directors meeting and see the other eight board members, he is extremely pleased by two things: 1) None of them were on the board ten years ago, meaning that we have been very successful at recruiting new leadership; and 2) They still value my presence, both as someone with good ideas and as a long-timer with “institutional memory”.
August’s goals this year are to keep working on changing the state marriage laws so atheists can conduct civil marriages as secular atheists and not as religious atheists, and to work on more cooperative projects with other freethought groups.
August also feels that our movement may be “struggling” with success. As more and more people become atheists, there may be less of a perceived need for organized atheism. But, as we know, the threats to our liberties and rights have not lessened. We need to organize if we hope to accomplish anything.
Director-at-Large, Eric Jayne
Eric is excited to have the privilege of serving on the board again as a director-at- large, and he pledges his allegiance to Alyssa Ehni for her candidacy seeking the presidential office!
Eric has served on the board since 2011 and has participated in Minnesota Atheists activities since 2007. The idea of positive atheism in action has guided his efforts in helping to promote our organization through several mechanisms including billboards, baseball games, conferences, and community service projects. (Stay tuned for updates about “atheist night” in 2016 with the St. Paul Saints!)
As a social worker in St. Paul, Eric has worked hard to connect several godless volunteers to local secular nonprofits who help underprivileged individuals and families meet their basic needs. Thanks to a dedicated group of event leaders, Minnesota Atheists has helped support the work of several local agencies while receiving recognition and awards from Foundation Beyond Belief for successfully completing a variety of community service projects. Eric looks forward to another year of working with, and learning from, a talented board of directors.
Director-at-Large, Hertzey Hertz
Three years ago Hertzey found herself looking for an atheist social circle. She had read lots of blogs and even started to listen to a couple of podcasts. But she missed having events to go to on a regular basis. She found, through Meetup, the Minnesota Atheists, and specifically the Newbie Night and Godless Gamers. Through these events, she found many friends and events to occupy her extroverted self. As Hertzey enjoyed the events, she became curious about the leadership and started to attend board meetings as a general member. With the election coming up, she now finds herself excitedly accepting the nomination for Director-at-Large. Hertzey is very excited to see how she can help our community and membership grow and flourish.
The Minnesota Atheist Newsletter
Published nearly every month, The Minnesota Atheist is distributed to our membership and to media to keep people informed of current events, book reviews, and provide topical articles of interest to atheists. Without a dedicated team of editors, writers and publishers, we could not complete a newsletter so often.
Editor, Jenny Nolan
Atheism provided me with answers that my theological degree did not. While studying for my doctorate in theology, I came to the realization that the bible lacked authority, a supreme being is nonsense, and that ethical living has evolved.
The greatest dangers religions create are:
1) encourage ignorance of rational and scientific thinking;
2) encourage apathy toward learning because they have the answer;
3) creating an attitude of certainty about their religion;
4) an arrogance that they are better than anyone not having or sharing their knowledge.
Minnesota Atheists is a member society of the Atheist Alliance International, an umbrella organization for independent, local atheist groups. The goal of the Alliance is to help establish strong, democratic, autonomous atheist societies around the world. The Alliance sponsors an annual national convention, publishes the quarterly Secular Nation magazine, and engages in other activities to help make the atheistic viewpoint heard and respected.
Minnesota Atheists is also an affiliate of American Atheists, which holds annual national conventions and publishes the quarterly American Atheist magazine and the monthly, members-only, American Atheists Newsletter.
Minnesota Atheists is also part of the Alliance of Secular Humanist Societies (ASHS), which is connected to the Council for Secular Humanism, publishers of Free Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer magazines.