Fox News (.com) ran an article yesterday about a new phenomena taking place across parts of Europe, and now in the U.S., that involves atheists in larger metropolitan areas getting together for music, reflection, and inspirational talk. Some may say that this all smacks of the same trappings used by organized religion in the form of ritual and imagery. Others say that it serves to tear down the walls of false perceptions that atheists are evil and untrustworthy. The group in L.A. also took donations for community service projects planned in the near future. I believe it is a good thing to positively promote the atheist movement but I also want to avoid any misconceptions that result from these types of services. It is an interesting development nonetheless and I hope it serves as an indication that our culture is finally moving forward and away from the handcuffing philosophy of religion.
Are these mega-gatherings to be applauded or looked at with suspicion? Your thoughts....
I didn't see your thread Candide. Sorry.
I concur wholeheartedly with Belle Rose!
Maybe it's just a bunch of lapsed Christians who've decided to come over to the 'Dark Side' but miss the 'Fellowship' they had in their Church. Guess they're looking to bond with like-minded individuals. I feel that creating a formal 'Church' or organization would just be starting a vicious cycle over again. I for one, would not be interested in joining.
Formalizing such a movement would mean a hierarchy of some sort. Which would, inevitably, lead to some sort of elitism, and open the door to the same corruption and power abuse rampant in Churches, Politics, or any other organization where certain people will be empowered to dictate to everyone else how they should be living their lives.
How long will it be before they start sending out 'Missionaries' and trying to 'convert' Theists?
The root of evil, money, is already sticking it's head out. Looks like someone may already be trying to capitalize on the concept, no matter how noble the stated object.
Personally, I'm leery of making 'donations' through any organization because, you can bet your boots, most of it will be siphoned off in the guise of 'administration costs' and 'staff salaries' (only for the big shots, of course, anyone else will be expected to be unpaid 'volunteers'), and only a small portion of any donation made will actually reach the intended recipient.
It's organized; the very thing I, as an atheist, don't want any part of. What's next? Rituals? Mandatory attendance? Mandatory service? Who's leading this ragtag group of 400? Nah, count me out. This site is as close as I'll get to conversing with like minded individuals.
"most of it will be siphoned off in the guise of 'administration costs' and 'staff salaries' (only for the big shots, of course, anyone else will be expected to be unpaid 'volunteers'), and only a small portion of any donation made will actually reach the intended recipient."
Kind of sounds like you are describing a typical charity, at least most of them.
I guess in some way, some of the more committed atheist folks are that part of that 'missionary' shock troops.
I am in broad agreement with the majority here in finding such groups inherently suspicious and cult-like. Even its two leaders make my skin crawl as any cult leaders would. Yet on the other side there is the "congregation" most of whom I am sure attend for perfectly legitimate participation in a group activity free of dogmatic prescriptions. For them there is the opportunity to meet new friends, prospect for partners in a safe alcohol free environment and I suspect those are the main reasons they attend. There are after all fewer and fewer places where people can come together with that in mind. As someone else said above I may even seek a similar group local to me with the express purpose of finding someone willing to put up with all my myriad bad habits :)
I would rather join a 'Atheist Coffee and Cake Society'. At such a meeting we greet each other as 'mate', and start off each meeting with rousing game of 'Chinese Cheakers', followed by a laugh track to Benny Hinn...
If the group is mostly guys, we could give 'Survival Cooking' classes.
We could design special head pieces so we will never be confused with Theists, sadly I am at a lose as to their design..;p).
Forehead tatoo? Not a chance in hell....;p)
So there appears to be a problem with atheists getting together for secular communion while avoiding the trappings of organized religion. We are a fairly cynical and suspicious bunch for the most part. Honestly, unless we adapt some means to come together in mass and show support for one another I believe our hopes to shove religion out civilization's door will be a painfully slow process. The downside is that it only takes one or two atheist assholes in attendance to screw up at an event and the media is all over us. But I truly believe it is important to get ourselves collected and demonstrate to society that we are here, not going away, and demand acceptance as a legitimate growing segment of our society. Hopefully closet atheists and those sitting on the fence of indecision will gain confidence from seeing fellow freethinkers gather together publicly for support and camaraderie.
Without complete transparency and openness the collection of funds at such events for charitable causes will be looked at with suspicion from the media and public in general. It is an opportunity to demonstrate that freethinkers are concerned about the plight of the less fortunate but we must exercise caution to avoid being taken advantage of by those who are quick to ridicule or find fault.
I don't think that it's the right road to go down either and there is too many pitfalls on the way. I don't have any answers that work. I hope religion will evolve to oblivion but definitely not in my lifetime.
I don't like anything that looks like a cult/church. Been in too many of those.
We need to be creative about how we build our communities. Churches can be very sick places...that type of organization should be looked at with skepticism. We ought to be careful that we don't end up emulatingreligious organizational stuctures by default. Let's be Free Thinkers and come up with our own gig.
I like it! Writing a book that will call for new rituals. Can't say much more. You have to read the book.