The Baltimore Sun reports on atheists who are beginning to organize into something that looks like an organized religion. They are even meeting in a church.
The Baltimore Coalition of Reason seeks to gather atheists, agnostics and others, by advertising through billboards targetting nonbelievers. Their message is that it is possible to be good without God.
Baltimore becomes the latest target of a national campaign, funded by an anonymous businessman from Philadelphia, intended to join atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and other nonbelievers - a diverse lot, not universally inclined toward organization - into something resembling a community, and one that ultimately could wield the sort of social, cultural and political power now enjoyed by the larger religious denominations.
"A lot of people who don't believe in traditional religion or don't believe in a god, they tend to think they're the only ones," said Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. "And thinking they're the only ones, they tend not to communicate their feelings to others, others don't communicate similar feelings they may have to them, so they don't realize there are groups out there."
Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard University and author of Good Without God: What A Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe. says
"We are reaching numbers and levels of awareness that suggest that we are owed a place at the table of discussion about issues of religion and ethics around the world. And we now need to step up to that table."
While acknowledging that organizing free-thinking humanists into groups is a little like herding cats, they still envision gatherings where active non-believers can meet, have a good philosophical lecture or discussion group, do charitable work or social activism. The billboards advertise an initial gathering where Epstein will be the featured speaker. The meeting will be held this coming Sunday at 3 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore.
The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, the Episcopal bishop of Maryland was asked by the Sun if he felt threated by this alternative to traditional religion. He said,
"Of course we know that someone can be good without believing in God. We don't believe in God in order to be good. We believe in God in order to connect with the holy within us, which helps us to love everyone in the world, even those who don't believe in God, even those who don't see the point of religion, even those who would harm us. As is it says in our Scriptures, 'God is love.' "
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