Atheist "mega-churches" are gaining popularity in the U.S. and other places of the world. The concept of the so called "churches" was recently promoted by two comedians from Great Britain and the positive enthusiastic example setting approach of their promotion has energized a world wide (U.S. included) Atheist "mega-church" movement. The so called "churches", are called assemblies by Atheists instead. My opinion is that the movement serves Atheism well. That is, it diminishes the very crippling need of Atheism to dismantle the stereotype that Atheists are at best latent sociopaths. Per the article:
Nearly three dozen gatherings dubbed "atheist mega-churches" by supporters and detractors have sprung up around the U.S. and Australia - with more to come - after finding success in Great Britain earlier this year. The movement fueled by social media and spearheaded by two prominent British comedians is no joke. On Sunday, the inaugural Sunday Assembly in Los Angeles attracted several hundred people bound by their belief in non-belief. Similar gatherings in San Diego, Nashville, New York and other U.S. cities have drawn hundreds of atheists seeking the camaraderie of a congregation without religion or ritual. The founders, British duo Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, are currently on a tongue-in-cheek "40 Dates, 40 Nights" tour around the U.S. and Australia to drum up donations and help launch new Sunday Assemblies. They hope to raise more than $800,000 that will help atheists launch their pop-up congregations around the world.
To realize the total significance of the movement the article should be read in full.
Some people may enjoy the sense of community and I believe it is more productive then getting community values from a group who believe the mess inside the Bible.
John, these assemblies meet needs of people for community, participating with others on matters of more importance than oneself and claiming internal access to such things as values, ethics and morals. It is a good sign. A new way of celebrating life and all that involves. Even environmentalists have a place to focus efforts. Oh! I will be so glad when people stand with pride and claim their thoughts with dignity and fun.
I hope the words "church," "religion," and "prayer" become replaced with such words as "assemblies," "principles," and "thought and action".
Well, as long as the media is looking to cause a stir instead of reporting the truth, they'll get called churches. The members don't call them that, just the idiots that report on them.
Im still on the fence about them. I will have to wait and see. This is not what I imagined when I envisioned Atheist coming together. I imagined more of a corporation of sort showing how good people could do good things without being tax exempt, maybe Im just afraid of the gang mentality or that it will eventually boil down to a sort of soft religion in a way. I guess Atheist should enjoy the same benefits as a religious group or as native Indians. I wonder what laws will we Atheist be able to get them to pass since we are starting our own mega church or should I say assembly? Will we be able to influence Gov the way Religion has? I have so many questions so I guess this is groundbreaking news
I see it as a way to make Atheism more visible to society in a light that depicts it as positive rather than negative. I'm thinking it will attract a lot of 'would be' Atheists that are reluctant to declare now because society has too successfully stigmatized Atheism as lacking in goodwill. I don't think it will result in Atheism being thought of as a religion. Rather, I think it will demonstrate that people can celebrate goodness without the need of gods nor religious doctrine. I see it eventually leading to socially respected secular groups in which serious thought may be given to what values are in the best interests of mankind and, in this, the world.
Meri, you make very good points and indeed, reveal the risks of becoming church-reveler want-to-be's acting like smiling puppets. Trying to be the Sunday-go-to-meet'n mood with the Grand Ole' Opry style will not be good. Or the old-fashioned balloon breasts/tight waists females linked with macho males with too much ego, appeal to my appetites. I can't abide those music/vaudeville performances where each tries to out-dumb the other. Tea Baggers' style does no inspire me nor does it kindle thought and action.
On the other hand, if, as the atheist gatherings this past year revealed, there is excellent music, fun, comedy, poignancy, drama and tragedy rolled up into an intelligent display of celebration, then there is hope.
I hope and believe you're right John. Being an atheist in this small area I know people don't want to come out openly atheist. It was tough for me but I had to let my g-daughters know that there are people like me and we are not evil people.
Take any event of your past that included interesting, fun, stimulating things that you remember. If it was church oriented, such as a pot luck, a ball game, picnic, feast, or whatever, it can be done without any relationship to religion.
Even a birth, milepost, graduation, marriage, death that usually involves a church community, can be done in a secular way.
My kids don't seem to remember events that only involved the immediate family ... they remember the celebrations and festivities that included extended family, friends, neighbors and communities. It is people that they remember. For the little ones, the boxes present lots of fun.
Our celebrations usually revolve around seasons of the year, birthdays, graduations, marriages, and deaths. Feasts begin with thanking those who grew the food, harvested, and cooked it. There is no need for a deity in these celebrations.
We exchange gifts, but mostly those that are handmade. Being a family of limited means, we didn't have the resources for store-bought things; even the little ones can pick dandelion blossoms in summer, or colored leaves or garlic in autumn, or pick holly in winter, and daffodils or seeds in spring. We all have gardens and people know gifts from any of our gardens express thoughtfulness. The theme is, "I chose this for you". Even children select toys they have outgrown and give to younger ones, or they make something for older ones. Two of my great-grandchildren are pre-teens and they bake things, or make things in the shop. The good part is, the kids get away from TV and games and plan ahead and do whatever is necessary to bring pleasure to others in the family. They participate in giving as well as receiving.
In sickness, there is no "I'll pray for you". One hears, "What can I do for you?" or "Do you need a ride to the doctor? or "I just made you a loaf of banana bread!" or a "Get Well" note expresses compassion.
How sweet those words sound when laying in bed, unable to function as a healthy human being. To be thought of, cared for, and loved.
Corny? Yes! Memorable? They can be! Deprived? Some think so.
Sounds good to me.
Lovely, Joan! And you're right, the best I remember about church were things like organizing a fancy-fair, a yearly community clean up of the church buildings or organizing help for people who needed it.
I still live like that: we have only two family members left here and they cannot share because of illness, but we help them and try to build working relationships with neighbours. Sometimes that's uphill work but we also have success and make friends.
I don't understand your use of deprived. I often felt deprived, after losing my extended family and my parents when I dropped religion. It's such a wealth, to live in a community of people that care for each other.
Oh, some people buy lots of electronic stuff, or junk that usually breaks very soon, and think we don't celebrate the way they think is right. I just consider the source and look at the attitude of their kids who either didn't get enough or got the wrong thing. Our kids just don't have that reaction. I suppose, as the younger ones see all the stuff their friends get, they may wonder why they don't get those kinds of things. We keep them so busy they don't really have time to compare loot, yet. My granddaughter and her mate coach sports for their kids teams and many parents don't have that kind of time for their kids.
Yes, you refer to deprived as having a loss of extended family and parents when you left. I used the word in a different context. I left the church when my children were still very young and we are all atheists or agnostics now. The grandkids haven't been exposed to church, accept through the other side of the family, or friends.
I know what you mean about loss of church and community. That was the hardest part for me. I really love those people. They had good hearts ... it was their thinking that I couldn't tolerate. I soon rebuilt a community free of religion. They are far more interesting, involved with person-to-person contact, and are not so worn out from trying to "do the right thing." We just are.