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Communitarian Atheism

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LanDroid

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Communitarian Atheism

Why America needs a new kind of atheism right now
An energetic atheism can tackle the twin crises of creeping theocracy and the death of conventional religion.

There are two pressing crises tied to the state of religion in America today. A new style of atheism can help answer both of them. The first crisis is rooted in an excess of religion. Christian theocracy is not far-off specter but an emerging reality in America. Fueled by a radically reactionary Supreme Court that is two-thirds Catholic, Thomas Jefferson’s already-dilapidated and graffitied “wall of separation” between church and state is crumbling.

...The second crisis is tied, ironically, to the decline of religion. The religious right is securing more power in courts and legislatures and becoming more influential within right-wing culture, but it’s not becoming more popular. Instead there has been an accelerating American drift away from organized religion — and most often toward “nothing in particular.” A rapidly increasing share of Americans are detaching from religious communities that provide purpose and forums for moral contemplation, and not necessarily finding anything in their stead.

...My belief is that an energetic, organized atheist movement — which I propose calling "communitarian atheism" — would provide an effective way to guard against the twin crises of intensifying religious extremism on one end, and the atomizing social consequences of a plunge in conventional religiosity on the other.

...An organized atheist community can help agitate for and finance a secularist equivalent of the Federalist Society — the right-wing legal movement that helped populate the federal courts with hard right jurists and helped get us into this mess — to act as a bulwark against theocracy.

...At the same time, atheism can address the social and spiritual vacuum emerging in the wake of the slow death of mainstream organized religion. This requires learning from religion, not indiscriminately attacking it. By putting together study groups, communities for secular meditation, and elucidating the meaning and joys of atheism without spewing venom toward all religion, atheists can build spaces for religion-skeptical people to find purpose, think about ethics, form community and consider more carefully how to build a better society.


Zeeshan Aleem 8/1/22
https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opi ... n-n1297611
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geo

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Re: Communitarian Atheism

Good piece and timely. Though what the author describes sounds more like secular humanism.

More than anything, we need to point out the Christian conservative movement is to a large degree is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It has nothing to do with Jesus but is instead a political movement closely akin to authoritarianism. We don't need to attack religion, per se, but expose the pretense of those who hide behind religion to subvert our democracy.
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LanDroid

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Re: Communitarian Atheism

This is a very good idea, but I have a few problems with some details.

- Hasn't this been tried before? Remember "Sunday Assembly" from 2013? As I recall it built up pretty quickly , then died off just as fast after piercing questions were asked like "Where da Fook did all da money go?" https://www.sundayassembly.org/about
- Although I attended Quaker Meetings for about 10 years, I don't necessarily agree with the author's suggestion to visit them. The author seems unaware there is quite a spectrum in how services are run. In the East Coast NY area, they have no pastor, no sermon, no scheduled music etc. As the author describes, it is up to participants to quietly meditate and occasionally attempt meaningful comments. However as you get to the Midwest it's difficult to distinguish some meetings from any other protestant service - they have pastors, sermons, scheduled hymns, a little congregation participation, and very brief periods of silence. The one I attended was a hybrid with a pastor and sermon, but all the rest might be silent depending on the week. (To be fair, I wasn't aware of atheistic Quaker practices which seems contradictory for a society seeking inner Spiritual insight although some wandered into Buddhist territory.)
- Attending a Unitarian Universalist church might be another option. One I attended had an atheist minister; half the congregation was agnostic and the other half was Wiccan, New Age, etc. At the time I kinda-sorta believed in God, but looked forward to his secular sermons.
- He seems to advocate for a hard left political stance, which would probably be required to fight against theocracy. However, lacking a belief in gods does not preclude conservative political or economic beliefs. (S.E. Cupp is one example. Chris O'Connor might be another?) But it would be very difficult to build a "big tent" while many conservatives perceive others as satanic.
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Re: Communitarian Atheism

I generally favor the idea, but not the notion of a Federalist Society equivalent based in atheism. Secularism is quite sufficient, and does not usually draw the wrath of authoritarian theists.

Frankly I think quite a bit of the defensiveness of authoritarian Christians (such as the ones found on the Supreme Court) is a reaction to the success of Dawkins and the other Horsemen, Out of the social media dialogue they generated has come advocacy of making religion illegal (I have seen it with my own eyes) and less radical but still scary intolerance of ordinary religion. So if we are going to have a democracy, it strikes me as important that folks who care about other issues not shoot themselves in the foot by attacking the life orientation of a large majority of the population, accusing it of inevitably leading to terrorism, racism or the oppression of women.

What would ordinary people make of an atheist group dedicated to promoting atheist judges? But if you advocate separation of church and state, there is still a large majority that would agree with you.
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Chris OConnor

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Re: Communitarian Atheism

I used to be conservative but I lean to the left now for sure. While I am registered as an Independent it would take an act of God to get me to vote Republican again. The religious BS and overturning Roe vs Wade... just too much for me to handle. And literally EVERY single conservative I know, with no exceptions, tell me they didn't watch the January 6th hearings and don't really watch the news at all. So where do they get their misguided ideas? Conservative blogs and Facebook memes it seems.
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