In an online-only clip, Bill Maher jokes about the Sunday Assembly (a.k.a. the Atheist Church), arguing that we don’t need it because there’s already something else that unites atheist on the Sabbath:
Point taken. I smiled. But while the slam on the Sunday Assembly works for the joke, Maher falls into the same trap as many other atheists, which is that he’s taken in by the word “church.”
Unlike Christian churches, there’s no obligation to attend or threat of damnation if you disagree with the leaders. The Assembly encourages critical thinking and doesn’t preach from some magical book. Attending the Assembly doesn’t make you any more or less of an atheist.
Maher knows damn well that a lot of atheists leave religion because they have problems with faith. You would expect him to understand that offering a community for those who appreciate that sort of thing, with a non-religious/pro-science-and-wonder foundation at its core, would benefit our movement as a whole.
He should attend one of the gatherings to see what they’re all about.