the need to belong

The New York Times is currently running an article about atheist and humanist organizations that are popping up in different locations around the country.

These lines, in particular, struck me:

And now parents were coming out of the woodwork asking for family-oriented programs where they could meet like-minded nonbelievers.

“Is everyone in favor of sponsoring a picnic for humanists with families?” asked the board president, Jonathan Lamb, a 27-year-old meteorologist, eliciting a chorus of “ayes.”

The sociology and psychology of religion have been chewed upon over and over again particularly by critics. These lines remind me that there is also a sociology of non-religion. The non-religious, non-spiritual also have the need to belong, the need to form a collective identity.

As a deeply spiritual, deeply religious person, I hadn't considered the need to belong separate from my faith and practice. For this reason, these groups are fascinating to me. Their gathering practices mimic those of religious organizations.

I'm certainly not excited by this movement in religiosity, but I am intrigued by it.


Anonymous said...

I read this article today, too. I found it interesting on a sociopolitical level that they are patterning their "coming out" based on the GLBT movements of the last several years. How long before they have lobbyists in D.C.? Should Christians be concerned - or not?

TomK said...

Hello, this is your uncle Tom. Interesting thought, take a look at the book by Eric Hoffer (I think, been 30 years since I read it) "True Believer". It discusses the need to belong and how it is used by people of influence.