You may want your group to remain closeted if you’re in an area of the country that is hostile to atheists and freethinkers. Although our group was based in a hostile area, we participated in several public events within our own community.
At these events, I had brochures available to the public that explained who we were (freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, Humanists) and what our philosophy entailed.
I also had a banner created and had this hanging at any public event we attended:
Look within your local community for public events that your group can participate in. One local event that took place annually in our town was the Dragon Boat Race and International Festival. One year, we gathered several members together and formed the Fayette Freethought Society Dragon Boat Team. We entered the competition and had a great time! We also set up a canopy for our team at the festival, displayed our banner and provided handouts to the public with our group information.
Be brave when stepping out into the community. And be proud of who you are and what your group represents. You may find that your local community is very accepting of your group. Another public event we participated in was the Civitan Chili Challenge in Peachtree City. We set up a booth with the other participants and entered our favorite chili recipe into the competition. Just being there as the Fayette Freethought Society was an important step out of the “closet” for the group and the response from the community was positive.
Another idea for a public event is Darwin Day. We hosted a Darwin Day celebration (2010 and 2011) at our local Starbucks that was open to the public. We advertised the event in the local newspaper and posted flyers around town inviting the community. Attendance was great and we provided coffee, Darwin birthday cake, had science books for sale through Border’s Books, science/evolution displays, and had a fun Darwin/evolution quiz for attendees to take.