They’re coming out of the closet, left and right. Atheists, agnostics, skeptics. My son let me know over the holidays that many of his friends have expressed their doubt now that they’re away from home. As our numbers grow, we become an important demographic. There is money to be made; power to be had. This article about a schism in “atheist church” movement suggests that atheists are falling prey to the same sorts of opportunists that live in the world of religion.
I was never quite sold on the idea of “atheist church,” and now I’m convinced that they’re a bad idea. IMO, if you want the structure and community afforded church, whether you believe in god or not (or aren’t sure), there is already a church in place: the Unitarian Universalist church. As Morgan wrote in an earlier post, this is a great place for families, too.
It’s one thing to organize to give religion the boot from government or from our schools; it’s another thing to organize and mimic religion so that we can have the warm and fuzzies without the most important, defining feature: god. It feels…well….counterfeit.
Here’s a few reasons why nonbelievers should not have a “church”:
- Churches are for worship. We do not worship.
- We reject church; we tell believers that their beliefs are not valid, so why would we pirate the business model from the very thing we’re rejecting?
- Churches teach and reinforce dogma. We have none.
- Atheism is the lack of belief. We don’t recognize god, saints, sacraments, the holy spirit, the divinity of Jesus, religious texts, spirits, ghosts or exorcisms. Churches, mosques and temples are the institutions which house these things.
- We don’t need a global or centralized “church” to promote morality, kindness, peace. We should be doing this every day, in every way. We should be supporting and uplifting each other every chance we get–not just for an hour on Sundays.
- We are not sheep; we don’t need a shepherd. We’re all leaders, living by one basic universal rule: The Golden Rule.
- The money used to support a “church” or assembly and its related expenses could be used to help others.
If we still feel a need to “congregate,” to gather or to socialize with others like us who live near us, we can form humanist meet-ups or skeptics clubs. But the last thing we want to do is emulate the very thing that we reject. We should put as much distance between atheism and religion as possible.