I still say atheism is not a religion.
But Paul and Jacki McMaster have started the First Church of Atheism. It’s a way to ordain atheist “ministers” who can preside over things like weddings, funerals, and commitment ceremonies.
It’s legal and free to get ordained.
Why did they start it?
When Paul and Jacki were wed in 2006, they hired a non-denominational minister to perform the ceremony. They requested that the ceremony be entirely faith neutral, as they were both devout atheists. To their dismay, the ceremony that the minister submitted for their approval was littered with references to, and direct statements about, god. They pulled out a red pen and started editing, paring down the ceremony into a 2 minute long affair.
For the next year, they would laugh about that story, telling their friends about the “non-denominational” minister who read them their vows in a Friar Tuck shirt, complete with collar. While funny, this also says something tragic about the state of our society when it comes to atheists. Non-denominational means generally Christian. For atheists, this is impossible to accept.
So the couple decided to form a society to provide others with what they did not get for their wedding.
I’m not sure how this is better than being a Humanist Celebrant, or getting ordained with the Universal Life Church, but kudos to Paul and Jacki for setting up another venue for atheists to run these services.