When the Amish need a new barn they have a brilliant solution - a "raising bee". They invite all their friends and neighbours over and they raise the barn together. The advantages are obvious: the lucky farmer gets a barn without having to pay anyone, the friends and neighbours get to meet and talk to each other and enjoy the pleasure of making something. Everyone knows that although they are making a barn what they are really building is a strong community.

That's what we are doing with the RA website, only without the beards or the traditionalist Christianity. Instead of that we have a commitment to reason, science and secularism, and an appreciation of how important good accurate information and clear argument is to the health of our societies. We do not think that irrationalism, intolerance, special interests and dogma should go unquestioned or unanswered. We are building a community that can ask better questions and offer better answers.

We want to invite you to our own "raising bee". You'll need to register, that is give us your email (and choose a password). That's it. By doing so you become a founder member of the online rationalist community that we are building right here on this website. We then want your help to raise this community. We'll be asking our founder members to help us decide what this community will become and what it stands for. Over the next few weeks we'll ask you to take part in a survey to decide what kind of features you'd like this community to have, and to help draft a 'Rationalist Manifesto' to crystallise what their community stands for and how it wants to behave. Unlike the Amish raising we won't be handing out long, cool glasses of lemonade, sorry. But we do have some very special treats planned for those of you who can help us build.

So come on. There's lots on this site already (thousands of articles, blog posts, podcasts, videos and debates). But these are just the foundations. You and founder members like you are going to help us raise the walls, and then raise the roof, in the name of reason.

Beyond founder membership

For a while (a couple of months) we are offering membership for free. Those of you who become founder members will help decide how we develop the community and draft a manifesto of our values. After that we will be asking founder members to consider paying to become a full member of the Rationalist Association (which gets you a print magazine, app, and full voting rights), but we won't ever lock you out. As a founder member you will always be welcome. Those wishing to join the community after this time will be asked to pay a modest fee.