James Croft and Greg Epstein, both of the Humanist Community at Harvard, just signed a book deal to write The Godless Congregation:
The past few months have demonstrated that there is an increasing desire among religious “nones” for new forms of community which fulfill the human need for fellowship, support, civic engagement, ethical inspiration, and existential exploration. The Houston Oasis, the Sunday Assembly, and the Secular Hub in Denver are three such congregations: the sign of a trend toward greater organization among the nonreligious, showing that godless congregations are possible and that people want them.
I love the idea. There’s value in community for those who want it — and I suspect a lot more of us want it than we think. Only now are we starting to see some options pop up.
Yes, people are going to complain that an “atheist church” makes no sense or that it’s too much like religion, but that’s a very narrow-minded way of looking at it. There are so many people who don’t believe in God but remain in their church because of all the benefits it offers — community, moral education, childcare, a “spiritual rejuvenation” if you will. You don’t need God for any of that, and the atheists who are starting these “congregations” are only adapting the good parts of church while leaving behind the myth. There’s potential for abuse, but it hasn’t happened yet.