Also mentioned in the article are Camp Quest, a summer camp program operating in five states and Ontario, Canada, and the Carl Sagan Academy in Tampa, FL, the nation's first humanist charter school.
UPDATE: Mark at Protestant Pontifications has written a blog post on this Time magazine article, and I've submitted this comment:
The Christian CADRE blog has a post on the article titled "The Cult-like Culture of Atheism, Part II," which says that "If atheists cannot see how that is just another step on the road to finally recognizing themselves as a religion then they really need to think a little bit more about how they act." I've responded with this comment:
When you write “But there is danger in thinking one can siphon off certain aspects of community and still achieve the same result - especially when trying to mimic the benefits of religious community,” do you mean to suggest that any religion can have such benefits, or do you mean to restrict it to Christianity (and perhaps Judaism)?
It seems to me that other religions clearly have communities with the same social benefits and same self-ascriptions of worship and spiritual value. Yet clearly not all religions are true, which means that either some of the participants are self-deceived or that the benefits do not require the religion to be true. I think the latter is better supported by the evidence.
Since I happen to think that there is no true religion, I don’t see the problem with what these humanists are trying to do. I’ve recently attended memorial services of deeply religious evangelical Christians, of a liberal universalist Christian, and of an atheist, and they each evoked the same emotions and sense of community and fellowship with the people at the services; in my case, I felt a deeper fellowship and companionship with those at the atheist service since those are like-minded people. The emotions were the same–a combination of grief at the departure yet happiness at the memories of the departed’s life–yet there was no self-deception about seeing the departed again in the future.
BTW, it is somewhat ironic for a member of such a syncretistic religion as Christianity to criticize an atheist group for “trying to mimic” a religious practice. Virtually every component of the Christian religion was appropriated from other religions, and that’s not even counting holiday celebrations. The most rapidly growing religious sect in the world today, Pentecostalism (from 0 to 400 million members in about a century), is also quite syncretistic, appropriating components of local religions everywhere it spreads.
Humanism (which is not just atheism, it has specific positive tenets, and should be distinguished from "secular humanism") *does* recognize itself as a religion, and has for many years. The American Humanist Association is a 501(c)(3) *religious* organization. It has officiants who perform marriage and memorial services, it has groups that hold regular meetings and social events in most countries of the world. In the Netherlands, 26% of the population consider themselves humanists (vs. 31% Catholic, 13% Dutch Reformed, 7% Calvinist); another 18% are non-religious and non-Humanist.
BTW, "cult" is a term that, in my opinion, should be restricted to religious groups that have most or all of a set of features that include being centered around an authoritarian leader, requiring members to restrict contact with non-members, controlling all aspects of the group's lives, etc. Steve Hassan's book _Combatting Cult Mind Control_ has a good list of cult characteristics. Most sects of Christianity are not cults; there could certainly be atheist cults, and Madalyn Murray O'Hair's American Atheists group was probably close to one, if not one, while she was alive.
I disagree with Mr. Ragland [another commenter who said this shows man to be a religious creature] about what this particular evidence shows--I think it shows that man is a *social* creature, though I think there are other reasons (put forth in Pascal Boyer's Religion Explained book, for example) to think that man is, indeed, a religious creature.