For many of us, the essence of religion is not dogma or ritual, but life shared in community. Understandably, some atheists associated intimate communities with a lost of individuality. But an exciting movement seems to be growing where atheists gather in “atheist assemblies” or “Sunday assemblies” to share life with like minded people. One participant wrote:
“Speaking for myself, I had a great time, and when it happens again, I have every intention of going back. Atheists are known for being non-joiners – it’s practically in the definition – but there’s a real need for groups like this. Socialization among ourselves, visibility in the wider community, exhortation to put one’s moral principles into action: these are all things that we need and that secular community groups like the Sunday Assembly can provide. It’s too early to tell whether this particular one will thrive, but the next meeting will be the major test, to see whether it can sustain the same level of participation and enthusiasm that was in evidence this weekend.”
It may just be wishful thinking on my part, but I think this is a movement that could become huge and remove the stigma of atheists as people who just bash religion and show them to be the thoughtful and compassionate humanists they really are.