Next Meetup

Book Review & Discussion: "Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family"
Join us for a lively book review and discussion of "Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family" by Garrard Conley From "A beautiful, raw and compassionate memoir about identity, love and understanding. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, and Lucas Hedges, and directed by Joel Edgerton. The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to "cure" him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness. By confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heart-breaking, at times triumphant, "Boy Erased" is a testament to love that survives despite all odds . . ." ****** NOTE: In fairness to everyone attending who expects to have a meaningful discussion and a productive learning experience, you must complete the reading of this book in order to attend this meeting. ****** "Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family" by Garrard Conley paperback publisher: Riverhead Books, June 2016 352 pages, available at: Also available on audio (8 hr 13 min) at: The actual Meetup location is posted for members at:[masked] ****** Book Reviews "A powerful convergence of events that Conley portrays eloquently." —Washington Post "The power of Conley’s story resides not only in the vividly depicted grotesqueries of the therapy system, but in his lyrical writing about sexuality and love, and his reflections on the Southern family and culture that shaped him." —Los Angeles Times “Boy Erased is a gut-punch of a memoir, but the miracle of this book is the generosity with which Conley writes in an effort to understand the circumstances and motivations that led his family to seek the “cure”… his memoir is not simply a story of survival — in this book, a true writer comes of age. Conley writes vividly, with intelligence, wit, and genuine empathy. By embracing complexity and compassion, he reclaims his life and reminds us that a story rarely belongs to one person alone.” —LA Review of Books “Well-written, compelling, disturbing, and ultimately quite bracing, this is an important, refreshingly unsentimental perspective on the dangers and abuses of ex-gay therapy ministries.” —Bay Area Reporter ****** About the Author Garrard Conley’s fiction and nonfiction can be found in Time, Vice, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and on, Buzzfeed, and elsewhere. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Elizabeth Kostova Foundation writers' conferences. A finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Boy Erased, Conley lives and teaches in Brooklyn, New York.

The Birmingham Atheist Center · Birmingham, MI

What we're about

Serious Learning for Serious Atheists

Atheist Scholars Meetup is a monthly book club for Atheists who are serious about learning from a free-thinking, post-religious, and atheistic perspective, while building long-term friendships. You are invited to apply for membership by clicking on the link below. All meetings are held in Birmingham on the 4th Tuesday of every month, from 7:00 to 9:30 pm. There are no membership dues, but donations to cover our direct costs are requested.

Our meeting format consists of a review and discussion of a selected book that has a strong appeal to Atheists in a rich context of science, philosophy, sociology, history, and/or psychology. This is not a science or philosophy book club. A book based solely on a scientific or philosophical topic might be interesting but does not serve the purpose of our Atheist Scholar Meetup. All books will have a distinct atheistic or free-thinking perspective, i.e., they were written by and for Atheists or “Nones”.

In fairness to everyone attending who expects to have a meaningful discussion and productive learning experience, you must have read the chosen book prior to attending each meeting. Most books chosen are available as audiobooks.

Please don't apply unless you plan on reading the book in advance and attending most meetings. Attendance at 4 of 6 consecutive meetings is required in order to maintain your membership.

The next book we read is chosen by consensus among those members attending the prior meeting.


Calling oneself an “Atheist” is just the beginning, not the end, of a life-long journey of learning, dialog and discovery. The Atheist Scholars Meetup group raises the standard among local Atheist groups by building a private membership focused on serious learning in a harmonious environment. By “Scholars”, we mean serious students of Atheism. Maybe you have been reluctant to join an Atheist group in the past or maybe you are just not interested in what the other groups in our area have to offer.

Atheist Scholars is for those who appreciate the value of exchanging ideas with a like-minded group and who enjoy asking “why” more than claiming to know “because.” It’s for committed life-long learners looking for an impressive group of smart friends to share in intellectual discussions in a supportive atmosphere.

If you call yourself an Atheist, are a life-long learner who is not gullible enough to believe in conspiracy theories, and you see the benefits of a Meetup group that offers serious book discussions with order and civility, please apply for membership in Atheist Scholars.


Before you decide to join, please note that attendance at 4 of 6 consecutive meetings is required to maintain your membership.

If you wish to apply to join the Atheist Scholars Meetup group, click on the button below or click here. If you have questions about our group, please visit our FAQ page (

Norm Cohen
Founder and Organizer

If you are interested in learning more about the many topics related to Atheism, ( is an excellent resource for you!

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