|Ken Bronstein, the president of New York City Atheists, said he started the meetings because Spanish-speaking atheists asked for them.|
Mr. Bronstein said he believed that Spanish speakers were receptive to an atheistic message despite their roots in Roman Catholicism and the growing hold of evangelical Protestantism. He said many of the people who attended the first two meetings, on Oct. 27 and Nov. 24, became disillusioned when their prayers did not help their home countries.
“Their prayers weren’t answered — they didn’t like organized religion,” Mr. Bronstein said. “A lot of them were turned off because the lack of progress, the lack of economic progress in their countries, the combination of the church and the state holding them back.”
Mr. Bronstein said that the meetings were still relatively small, with about 15 members attending, but that there were around 50 people on an e-mail list. “We’re going to bust out pretty quickly in attendance,” Mr. Bronstein said. “We think there’s a major group of nonbelievers, atheists, in this community.”
Mr. Bronstein, who does not speak Spanish, said the meetings were directed by Juan Castro, an atheist from the Dominican Republic and the author of “Una Cruzada por la Humanidad,” or “A Crusade for Humanity,” a book that critically examines the world’s religions in Spanish.
Mr. Castro said he became an outspoken atheist about seven years ago. Although he was raised Catholic, he has never been observant. “But I was from a family like everyone in my country who was Christian,” he said. “I always have my own thing, but I was quiet about it.”
Mr. Castro plans to expand the group through advertising in Spanish-language publications and television.