One of the things that I sometimes wonder is how or if humanists should congregate in weekly ritual meetings akin to church meetings. The social bonding that churches create is one of religion's great attractors. I've met lots of people who go to church just to meet people and forge ties. Do any of you have thoughts on this matter or practice such a thing?

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Good question, Peter. After leaving the church I've asked this many times. The "Earth Congregation" I propose on my website was intended to move in the direction you raise. Personally, I think the focus on Nature (which of course includes human nature) could provide the "fundamentals" and draw upon common experience and education to grow and nurture a supportive community. With a background in "spiritual leadership" I could see developing a pragmatic and creative model, as long as we don't have to herd a crowd of angry, bitter anti-religious people. Unitarians have made some efforts this way but I find some of the same elements that render religions impotent and irrevelant. The conversation is worth the time. Thanks
Yes, in that if we are to be an example and teach our own and other's children the best of human qualities, it is important for us, of like mind, to come together in a community in order to strengthen and further our way of life. Like any congregation there are common goals and benefits. I am a grandmother and I would join for the support of shared ideas.
Rituals need not be a part of a formal meeting, however, have always believed rituals are a very human
need to perform. It's symbolism and outward sign of depth of heart brings brings to the fore an intellectual/emotional expression for the common good.
I think I would be more active in "the movement" - i.e. humanism / atheist activism if meetings were held weekly, and as the location was as convienent as the church on the corner. Having "congregations" gives our movement something to offer people like me - a place for meeting friends, building community, and so forth. I always said I would be the BEST church member, if I could only believe. I want to celebrate holidays, have pot lucks, be part of something "bigger than myself." Building congregations would help us feel more connected.
Other than freethinking classes of some order I think the only thing that makes sense or that interests me is walking into Nature, quietness, listening and a circle to discuss ideas. Then create some opportunities for real action.
Here's an idea from Current TV (and CNN). Forming online congregations. Could this be one tool for the next generation of associations, hopefully leading to more personalized meetups?
Yes, I agree. This is why Sherwin Wine created Humanist Judaism. He had denounced God but wanted a way for Jews to stay connected to Judaism hence Humanistic Judaism was born.

That said, I firmly believe that Humanists should congregate. It is important for use to acknowledge and share in life celebrations, births, deaths, baby naming, guide parents, and basic bonding that we, as humans, need. A congregation gives everyone an opportunity to forge friendships and feel that they are part of a circle.
Unless I am mistaken, the Society of Friends have weekly meetings; I was told that all they do is sit silently. When someone voiced concern, e.g. "What kind of church is THAT?!" I thought probably as good as any and better than some. As you probably know, Buddhist praxis requires meditation, and I suggest that sitting silently would certainly qualify. Given that the most popular "churches" today preach the Prosperity Gospel and are more concerned with making money than saving souls, anything approximating some type of Judeo-Christian "service" should, I think, be avoided.

Sam Harris probably likes Buddhism because it has no telos/eschatology, requires no belief in a creator (much less God), and has an ontology that is most in keeping with certain notions of theoretical physicists. (I thought of Bohm when I read Nagarjuna.) I should think that a Society of Friends meeting would be perfectly acceptable once the theology is out of the way.
I think there is another aspect of this discussion and is the power that the religious community has by virture of "passing the plate." They decide who gets the money, what values are supported, and usually with very little input from those who drop in their dollars.

Because of this imbalance, The Foundation Beyond Belief (foundationbeyondbelief.org) was created to respond to this issue. It is a site where atheist, humanists, nonbelievers make donations to charities that are selected because their world view is in tune with ours. Believers pass the plate, we can go to The Foundation. 100% of all donations go to the charities that we choose, with a $9 annual fee being used to pay the very small staff and web costs (also funded by some grants).
And the best part is that atheists, humanists, etc. can choose exactly what charity gets how much and have input into the charities picked each quarter.

Please, everyone, visit the site and help make the Foundation a real voice in the real world, so we can unite our voices and our dollars. Help spread the word, share this cause on your social media pages! The Foundation is truly good-hearted, transparent, and a great idea! We're scrambling to make this idea a real power in the world.
I've taken the Belief-O-Matic survey on Beliefnet.com and while Secular Humanist is a 100% match, it did point out that UU and even a few others mentioned by others here were not far off. I was looking specifically to see if there was a group that provided the upside of religion without the baggage. There is a large UU "church" in Dallas. My wife said she doesn't want to go because her friend told her (proudly) they change the words of Christmas carols sung in the church in order to omit references to Christ or God. I'm still trying to ease my wife into our relatively new status as non-believers, and a supportive community might be a good thing. That's why I'm on here as well... to assess it as a welcoming place for her. She's quite sad right now about the loss of what she found as comforting religious beliefs, but once she started questioning everything she couldn't stop... so no going back to religion. Anyway, to answer the question originally posted, I don't find anything wrong with humanists forming a congregation of sorts.

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