I can only speak for the churches I was involved in as a kid, but churches—they generally attract good people. They encourage goodness in people. Often times they take it to the extreme and that gives them a bad name. But mostly, the goodness is well-intended and simple. Modern society seems less concerned with what is ‘good’. Atheists mostly believe that goodness equates to common sense, they believe that people who need external guidance are the broken ones, because to know what is right or wrong requires nothing more than to be a good and reasonable person. This isn’t a criticism; it’s an observation.
Although, a big driver of progress in a society is the ability of its people to listen to ideas that contradict their own. Liberals, progressives, and atheists all seem to have one thing in common: many of them believe that their perspective is inherently more advanced and necessary for progress, and ironically so, because their perceived moral and intellectual superiority bars them from supporting open, constructive dialogue with more traditional view points–the thing that actually sustains progress. Let me get more specific. Church not only encourages strong moral principles, but it provides people with the support and inclusion of a tight-knit local community, something that is horribly lacking in modern society. People feel more alienated than ever. Anti-depressants are becoming nearly as common as multivitamins. The internet, however much it brings us together, equally seems to further distance us from one another.
People are quick to form opinions in order to protect their beliefs and preconceived notions. That’s natural. But it’s healthy on both the individual and societal level to remember that there is always more for everyone to learn. Before you chose to throw away a tradition, ask yourself why it was there. What benefits did it afford? What is it that we propose to replace them?
Obviously replacing the community religion creates in society is not a task equipped for any individual, but at least perhaps we can become more aware of our own individual need to feel a sense of belonging.