New on AlterNet: The Emergence of Atheist Churches

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, Why People Are Flocking to a New Wave of Secular Communities: Atheist Churches. In it, I report on the Sunday Assembly and other so-called atheist churches now gaining in visibility and prominence: what they’re all about, what’s driving their growth, and what benefits they offer us. Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:

As the broader atheist community becomes larger and better organized, secularists and freethinkers have shown increasing interest in gathering together with likeminded people. Atheist community isn’t a brand-new phenomenon; there have long been local meetups as well as regional and national conventions, like Skepticon, the giant free conference that takes place every year in Springfield, Missouri, or the Reason Rally, the nationwide gathering of atheists and humanists on the National Mall in March 2012. But many of these conferences are focused on activism and political mobilization, and as necessary as those are, they don’t appeal to everyone.

That’s why, in just the last few months and years, we’re witnessing a new wave of secular communities – atheist churches, if you insist – whose focus is on doing good, living well and appreciating the wonder and beauty of the world without recourse to archaic mythology.

Continue reading on AlterNet…

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • L.Long

    I can understand the attraction as it would b nice to be in a group that doesn’t see you as an agent of satan doomed to hell.

  • Jim Baerg

    FWIW I was raised without religion & have recently attended a few meetings of the Calgary Secular Church.
    One difference between these meetings & the few times I attended a regular church service struck me: In the church service there was a sermon but no one raised questions about the content of the sermon. In the CSC there was a presentation & an open discussion on a topic. Faith & open discussion don’t go together.

  • David Cortesi

    Sorry, I couldn’t finish your nice article on alternet because the site committed the cardinal sin of presenting a dimmed-down image overlaid by a useless and pointless pop-up — “Like alternet on Facebook” — which I could not dismiss no matter how I clicked on the wretched little [x]. I persisted! and was reading along, peering through the 50%-gray smog overlay when the son of a bitch popped up a fucking other message, some kind of ad, covering a couple of paragraphs and scrolling along with your text to permanently hide it. At which point, I closed that tab. You might tell your editor that alternet pissed off a visitor and lost you a reader.

  • http://www.calgarysecularchurch.org/ Korey Peters

    We’ll probably move away from the “open discussion” a little bit in the main Sunday service. This is mainly because as we grow there are more and more people who want to say something, and too much of this distracts from what the presenter is trying to say.

    But discussion is important. It’s what the brunch is for, after all. And the pub night is nothing but discussion, so hopefully you’ll still get your fill!

  • MNb

    “But whether atheist or theist, all human beings benefit from belonging to a welcoming, supportive community. ”
    Then I’m not a human being.
    Mind you, if any atheist enjoys this kind of stuff, by all means go ahead. But looking down on people with anti-social tendencies like me is copying one of the biggest problems of religious churches and thus not a good start.

  • RayRobertson

    I disagree. Faith and open discussion do go together—in most places. But as Korey Peters said, the number of people in attendance limit the ability to hold open discussion. Where will you find open discussion at a church? In morning and evening study classes, informal gatherings, and other places.

    At my own church, not all of the adult Sunday School classes, for example, have open discussion, but most do. I’m in the 8th week of leading a course on Science & Spirituality, and our look at the theories of quantum mechanics, multiverses, and NDEs have led to much open discussion. You just won’t find that everywhere.

    But I’m very encouraged to read that more atheist groups are forming. I’ve been studying gerontology lately, and having a strong social support group is perhaps THE most important thing in maintaining health and happiness. This is true for adults of all ages.

  • Joe Barron

    It’s only a matter of time before the atheist churches begin to see schisms, persecutions and heresy trials. I am not in the market for another.

  • Jim Baerg

    Yes the CSC meeting was small, which makes it easier to have an open discussion. However, non-religious lectures to hundreds of people usually have a Q&A session at the end in which audience members come up to a microphone to ask the speaker questions. SFAIK this is not common after church sermons.

  • greekdancer

    Some may like socialization more than others, but the fact remains, humans are social beings and interacting positively with others does promote mental health and ultimately help prevent dementia.


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