Church without church
I was raised christian, Baptist specifically, but as I got older I began to question my religion. It is hard to ignore all the good things that christians do for people. Charities, compassion, morals, hope in hard times, community support. Living in Bible-belt America sometimes christianity doesn't just seem beneficial, but straight up necessary. Churches dot the landscape often outnumbering many other types of business and organizations. Avoiding church is like avoiding society in general. How do you get to know people? How do you become part of the community if you aren't active in a church?
At the same time, I began to notice the dark side of prevalent churches as well. Politics being chief among them. You can't be a politician in this part of the world without being a christian. Similarly, you almost cannot find a church that doesn't have some kind of political messages in their sermons. Many christians get the idea that if they believe something to be immoral then it also needs to be illegal which is a viewpoint I cannot support. Government is inherently supported by violence and I do not believe that Religion should be founded on violence.
I would like to imagine that we (someone in society) could form an organization that could provide the benefits of religion without the need to adhere to a specific faith-based philosophy. It would be a place for community to gather in support of one another, solidly founded in charity. It would also be an organization for celebration and entertainment designed to honor the accomplishments of the community. It would be a place for philosophical and moral discussion framed with a desire for understanding and compassion. It could provide outlets and support for mental health professionals to assist those going through trying times. It could also be a place for the promotion of knowledge, a library, designed to archive knowledge, discussion, and provide education.
I think this theoretical place could also be center for peaceful theological discussion. A place where people of many faiths could come to discuss their own faith in an open manner which welcomes questioning. I think such a place good really help people from different religions to better understand the similarities and differences each of their cultures has when compared to one another.
I have to wonder if such a group already exists and I'm overlooking it. I don't know if my musings are fantastic or completely realistic. If such a place does exist I hope that I find it one day. If it does not, well, I can only hope that one day I will have the resources and influence to start such an organization myself.
I've found that if you look for groups to fulfill a single need (charity work, social activities, etc) then you will often find the community you're looking for and that branches into the other needs. I've also never found the attributes you've listed to ever really be a part of religion, at least not as the primary goal. The charities I have worked with that were secular we're about the charitable act, while the religious ones were a out pushing religion via good acts. Community felt far more exclusionary, if you don't believe what we believe you're not really going to fit in here. I'd find a social club, a secular charity, some activity outside of church that allows you just to be you and you'll grow and find the community you seek.
Secularisation is one of the most important aspects of a functioning society.
Yep, second for Unitarian. I spoke with a lot of christians recently from different background (Mormon, Catholic) and they all settle on Unitarian as providing the cultural aspect of the church without any of the literal baggage that comes with it.
I think you're describing Unitarian Universalism. I used to go to UU church in college and found it to have many of the features you're describing. It was pretty cool.
I should check them out. Someone mentioned them to me once before but I forgot about them. Thanks!