In the past several years, alternative meeting formats for atheists have become more popular and captured the media's attention. Many atheists have objections to meetings like the Sunday Assembly, Community Mission Chapel, and Oasis.
Objection: I don't like it.I don't care. You don't have to go.
Objection: Why don't they just meet at the bar or have a lecture?If you're not plugged in to the atheist community to know that's the STANDARD format, you need to STFU about anything in the atheist community.
Objection: The word "church"You'll be glad to know that they don't even use the word church. It's Sunday Assembly, Community Mission Chapel, and Oasis. "Church" is a media term.
But what if they did use the word?
If your objection is anything out of the dictionary, that's prescriptivism. I don't care that the dictionary defines it as a Christian congregation. The word can be used as a format label. These meetings are churchy, they have singing and testimonies and fellowship behavior.
What word does illustrate the difference between groups that use a churchy format and groups that just do lectures and pub meetups? Because I dare you to find another label.
Objection: Confusing Christians about atheism being a religionI DON'T CARE. I don't care about your internet debates with Christians. How dare you tell atheists not to do things that help them because of your debates?
Meeting together is not the definition of a religion, that's trivially easy to point out to a Christian.
Atheists are people with social needs,and many ex-Christian atheists enjoy the churchy format. Any Christian who pretends to be confused with this explanation is not confused, they're LYING and HATEFUL.
Objection:Something about brainwashing and groupthinkSTFU, please. Getting atheists together is like herding cats. Nobody's going to be brainwashed by having a fun little meeting.
Objection: Atheists shouldn't have to get together as atheists, we have nothing in commonThank you, you little privileged asshole who probably doesn't live in the bible belt. Or you might be asocial, in which case, STFU about something that's for socializing.
Why can't I just go to a local knitting/hiking/blah group to get friends? Because if you live in the bible belt or many other places, you will get asked where you go to church, not if you go to church. You don't want to make a scene, you don't want to keep your mouth shut, and you don't want to hang out with people who think you're going to hell.
Objection: We need to get beyond churches/evolve/give up these formatsReligion does not own community, potlucks, singing. talks, fellowship or any of that. Don't let them have it.
The ONLY thing anyone can say about these meetings is if they would go or not. Any other assertions are baseless.
Perhaps you ask why my answers are so mean. Well, I am hostile to what are essentially subjective preferences being wrapped in a cloak of objectivity. I'm hostile to the outsider nature of such questions as why should atheists get together or talking about their preferences for bar meetups without realizing that they're already catered to. I'm hostile to the denigrating of ex-Christians when it seems like lifelongs are voicing these. I'm hostile when it seems like antisocial basement - dwelling trolls are asking this of "normal" people.
If your first impulse is to put down something fun that other people are doing, without a damn good demonstration of harm, I basically don't trust you. So perhaps you should rethink your objections if you've said these things before.