Jack got me thinking: http://www.atheistrev.com/2017/05/could-atheism-replace-religion.html
When I was young and going to church, it was more a social outing than a religious one for me. I grew up in quite isolated conditions. Church, and Sundays was the main time we escaped for a short while from the farm life. That and school; school was not fun, the town folk abused the rural, the ranch kids, abused the farmer kids. It was not good. But at church, the group was small enough that there was not so much abuse, except for that shin kicking asshole, McKnight.
Now knowing there is no god is only one of the factors. I never found the relief when I tried to go to church in the city. It was different, not the religion part but the extended social situation was not there. Those who go to church never talked about the sermon, just the people and the socializing afterwards, perhaps the potluck dinner; they were predictable, Jessie's casserole, mothers pies and potatoes, turnips, and/or coleslaw, the community turkey, or beef roast, etc. All the cousins, second cousins, extend families, in-laws, etc, on most Sundays; these were not community, but familiar community, my community. There were also those who never darkened the doors of churches except for weddings, funerals, and other specific functions, yet occasionally would show up for the dinners.
Those time are gone, and that is something atheists cannot address. Nor the opportunities to listen to the great storytellers, those who could spin a yarn so effortlessly, that kept us kids amused and quiet for hours. No truth, just tails, however there may have bit of truth there; how would we know? It is the memories of childhood which can never be recreated. Oh well, the young will be occupied with other things today. Life is much more complicated today.
Atheism could become a religion today, but not as just atheism. Realism has a chance, but not as Marc Perkel suggests,( http://www.churchofreality.org ), although some of his stuff is good in content, it requires additional input and over larger subject areas, and a concept/belief/personal directives areas. Rather than reason everything, prepackaged concepts are helpful to teach to the young, which is an essential function of religion.
I think any replacement of religion needs to be community based, real person to person contact, where a common belief system, value system could develop and be recorded. There is so much literature available for us to pick possible values from, or to develop our own, but ultimately, these need to be recorded and distributed. These need to go beyond the atheist no god, no soul, no afterlife, no reincarnation, no supernatural, all evidence based, but not clear and useful description of core beliefs or extended rules to live by. We all have our rules, but everyone's are in different orders, and the foundation for each must be included to deal with time change and needs change.