Sunday Assembly is one of the larger secular congregations aiming to provide community and ritual for nonreligious people. AP Photo/Jae C. HongShared testimonies, collective singing, silent meditation and baptism rituals – these are all activities you might find at a Christian church service on a Sunday morning in the United States. But what would it look like if atheists were gathering to do these rituals instead?

Today, almost 30% of adults in the United States say they have no religious affiliation, and only half attend worship services regularly. But not all forms of church are on the decline – including “secular congregations,” or what many call “atheist churches.”

As a sociologist of religion who has spent the past 10 years studying nonreligious communities, I have found that atheist churches serve many of the same purposes as religious churches. Their growth is evidence that religious decline does not necessarily mean a decline

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