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....
A former Pentecostal minister in Louisiana is serving up old fashioned church style meetings for atheists in the Baton Rouge area. One of his main points is that many former theists still long for the sense of community and togetherness that attending church services provided. Quoting Jerry DeWitt:
“There are many people that even though they come to this realization, they miss the way the church works in a way that very few other communities can duplicate,” he said in a phone interview. “The secular can learn that just because we value critical thinking and the scientific method, that doesn’t mean we suddenly become disembodied and we can no longer benefit from our emotional lives.”
That seems to be a valid point that probably rings true with many of today's converted atheists. It is still just a little disquieting to see the singing and clapping that brings back the memories of attending organized church. Perhaps it is an unfounded fear.