Cliff Walker, founder and sole member of Positive Atheism, about his Web site: "We're closing in on 100 megabytes of space, and I do it all myself."

They joked, sort of, about crossing out "In God We Trust" on dollar bills and about the difficulty of responding to those who insist on God blessing them after a sneeze. "I just don't answer," Dearing said.

The freethinkers also tackle more serious issues, such as blocking religious influences from public schools. And they criticize Bush's plan to shift more tax dollars to religious groups that administer social services.

Humanists in Portland run a low-cost counseling service, primarily for clients who couldn't otherwise afford it except through religious organizations. They also coordinate five Smart Recovery groups, an addiction treatment program that is an alternative to the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, which include acceptance of a power greater than oneself.

Humanists, many of whom also call themselves atheists, serve as celebrants at marriages, child-naming ceremonies and funerals, sought out by people who want the ritual without the religion.

"I think if you asked people on the street about atheists, they would think we're much fringier, flakier than we are," said Sanford. "We're nice people."

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