An atheist speaks out.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Non-Religious Church

I don't why I got to thinking this the other day in the car, but I think it is a great idea!

Many people say that going to church is beneficial because there is a community like a large family that one feels they belong to and can turn to in times of trouble. I know that when someone is ill many churches will include prayers for them in their services. For a long time my grandmother was in charge of sending "get well" cards to the hospitalized members of the church.

I agree that having a group a people outside of and larger than your biological family would be beneficial, but I do not see why this group must be a religious group. It is true, unfortunately, that most support groups or other welcoming communities are religiously based, but this is not inherently true.

I propose a non-religious "church". This church would welcome believers and non-believers alike, but would be 100% secular. Anyone who longs for family and a sense of belonging can come to the meetings of this church. People can discuss difficult times they are going through, and receive support from other members who have similar experiences or can help in other ways. Other people can share successes they have had in their life, ones that are of great importance to them. These people might not have any other family or friends, and needs someone to congratulate them and encourage them to do more or stick with it.

Many people turn to religion in times of hardship. Do they turn to religion because believing what is said in ancient books makes them feel better? Or is it the sense of belonging and the support of other members of the church? I would argue the latter.

39 Comments:

Blogger Intergalactic Hussy said...

I agree and disagree. Having a church or temple defeats the whole idea; however I strongly agree that having a community group is a good idea. We are social creatures.

The one thing I'd like to add/change is to not call it a "church". That word has been tainted... :) How about community group place? HaHa I'm sure one of us can come up with a good way of phrasing it. It's all semantics.

4:41 PM

 
Blogger jdk said...

I totally agree. I just called it a church to compare it to something. And I am pretty sure I used quotes, "church". That is kinda my way of sarcasm in text.

I am open to suggestions on what to call it. Perhaps the Secular House of Communal Gathering? I don't know, I just pulled that out of my ass.

11:26 AM

 
Blogger Julienne said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Universalism

11:58 AM

 
Blogger John Stuart said...

There is a Humanist Community in Palo Alto, CA that serves this purpose. Humanists promote rational thought, but also compassion and good living. Check it out!

9:24 PM

 
Blogger Cortne said...

I agree with you so much, but I've searched for this and can't find it. I'm so surprised it somethign like this hasn't sprung up as a big phenomenon! You know, people used to have a strong sense of community, but sense juts abotu everyone used to bereligious by defualt, the church was the default community fellowship center. We need to recreate that, but just center it aroudn community.

10:08 PM

 
Blogger Cortne said...

I agree with you so much, but I've searched for this and can't find it. I'm so surprised it somethign like this hasn't sprung up as a big phenomenon! You know, people used to have a strong sense of community, but sense juts abotu everyone used to bereligious by defualt, the church was the default community fellowship center. We need to recreate that, but just center it aroudn community.

10:08 PM

 
Blogger Cortne said...

Hey I just saw the comment about the humanist community. I hope there are others. thanks, i'll check it out.:-)

10:09 PM

 
Blogger Hands And Dreams said...

I had this idea myself a while back, and I'd be interested in getting one started in a few years when I've found a place to settle down.

I always refer to it as "church," even using finger quotes when I talk to people. I've racked my brain for months trying to come up with a better word, but I've come up short.

I'll check out those links. Thanks!

8:16 AM

 
Blogger Sarah Nejdl said...

I found this post just now despite you've written it long ago. I recently found www.churchoffreethought.org and plan to attend to check it out. Hopefully their assembly is more functional than their website.

3:39 PM

 
Blogger Erkka Kulmala said...

Hi there and greetings from Finland. Really nice post! I had this same idea couple months ago and now I would like to found this kind of church to Finland. Any help?

1:51 PM

 
Blogger Cheryl Ensom said...

I see you wrote this post years ago, but I just blogged about something similar and went poking around to look for "non-religious community" and found this.

It seems a lot of "non-religious communities" are actual atheist communities, which is fine, but I am, as I talk about in my latest blog post if you click on my blogger i.d., not interested in being part of a community that is centered around being religious OR non-religious.

Curious if this went anywhere and also what your response is to my post, if you have a moment to read. :)

thank you!
c

11:00 PM

 
Blogger Erkka Kulmala said...

Hi Cheryl,

I understand your point. Maybe it could be Church of free thinking. I think they have/had one in Texas. I'll read you thoughts within next weeks.

2:12 PM

 
Blogger Cheryl Ensom said...

Ya I just found that myself last night. Doesn't look like there's any chapter in my area. I don't want to be part of a community that has anything to do with common beliefs about God/lack of beliefs. I want be part of a community that is focused together as a group on something else...compassion? love? taking care of one another? I'm not finding that this sort of thing just happens spontaneously. I think I have to intentionally join or start something like this. ugh. so much easier to just be alive and as such, run into folks like this. But it doesn't seem to work like that.

2:39 PM

 
Blogger New Thought Australia said...

It already exists. It's called New Thought. No dogma. No myths. No sinners. Works for me and I haven't been in a church for 40 years.

5:11 AM

 
Blogger Angi said...

I am also in TOTAL agreement. Is it really such a radical idea to have/be part of a group of those, to whose philosophy in life does not include some angry all-powerful god who extracts vengence upon them who don't follow the churches guidelines.It is not/has never been right or even fair for those of us whom have let or hearts. To then be tossed against such biblical nuances- stories which contradict. Stories interpretted in 1000's of ways.

9:28 PM

 
Blogger rainbowrockie said...

I too long for a temple where people can gather and use the power or their goodness to heal the earth, each other, our loved ones. There is power in numbers, in love, in music and many things we could share that would benefit the common good of all spiritually. A Temple of Collective Goodness, or The Hall For The Common Good of Mankind, are some good names. Neither for or against others' beliefs but promoting the power or the collective conscious and unconscious goodness of our planet and universe.

1:25 PM

 
Blogger realworthylives said...

Not too long ago, I was sitting in a very large, famous, local non-denominational church. As I listened to the preacher say that "there was nobody outside our doors in this town, that has ever been happy, without God and Jesus Christ in their life and heart" I said to myself, "excuse me preacher, but you are 100% wrong! I started thinking that it would be great to be sitting in a place like this church (huge place) and be sharing our non-religious lives with each other too. There are millions of people who ARE very happy in this world, without ANY religion in their lives, thank you! Here is a title I like: Real Life Community Center!

6:50 AM

 
Blogger realworthylives said...

Here is another good title: Real Worthy Live Center!

6:51 AM

 
Blogger realworthylives said...

I meant: "REAL WORTHY LIFE CENTER"!!!

6:53 AM

 
Blogger realworthylives said...

"Church" implies anything that has to do with a belief in some kind of "god" or "spirit". The word "church" should never be used in our new group!

6:56 AM

 
Blogger realworthylives said...

WE ATHEISTS, NEED TO HAVE OUR OWN, LOCAL PLACE TO GATHER, SHARE, SUPPORT, AND HELP ONE ANOTHER, JUST LIKE "RELIGIOUS" PEOPLE DO. HUMAN BEINGS NEED ONE ANOTHER, IN SOME WAY, SHAPE OR FORM. "NO MAN IS AN ISLAND".LET'S KEEP TALKING ABOUT THIS SO WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

7:07 AM

 
Blogger Alex said...

A humanist or just plain out "non-religious" community center is an excellent idea. We could offer non-religious holiday celebrations, study groups, charity, weddings, and funeral services. It would help give us a sense of identity and something to be proud of instead of being forced into obscurity by religious prejudice.

6:02 AM

 
Blogger Erkka Kulmala said...

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_198647123509595#!/home.php?sk=group_198647123509595

I founded a group for us to Facebook. Please join and let the brainstroming begin!

5:41 PM

 
Blogger Erkka Kulmala said...

Name of the group on Facebook is "Creating non-religious community".

5:43 PM

 
Blogger Jered said...

The congregation of individuals Would be the 1 idea for a name. church ,god ,atheist, agnostic all words designed by churches to divide and conquer individuals families and countries throughout history. I'm a single father of 12 years who has not been able to obtain resources necessary unless I believe in god. I am tempted to act like I believe in order to get help. but help in the form of holy ghosts prayers and do gooders who are in a struggle to show god they deserve to be in heaven. if they were truly grateful people they would see earth as heaven and quit destroying it.

9:35 AM

 
Blogger Jered said...

Congregation of individuals Could be a good name. God ,Atheist ,Agnostic ,Church, marriage, divorce and many other words invented by mainstream religion are designed to divide and conquer individuals families and countries throughout history. I've been a single father for 12 years who has not been able to obtain necessary resources from my community unless im religious. I'm tempted to act as if I believe in order to get necessary resources for my son and I. but holy ghosts and prayer are distractions from our needs. holy rollers and do gooders appear to be in competition 4 their spots in heaven. a grateful person would realize that the earth they are standing on is heaven. the masses are simply willing to destroy earth in hopes that there is a better place after they die.

10:05 AM

 
Blogger realworthylives said...

Hi Jared, I understand how you feel. I was a born-again christian most of my adult life. When I decided to tell my immediate family and friends that I didn't "believe" anymore, they were really upset, and practically threw me out of their lives. I decided to tell them I changed my mind, and they are all "lovey,duvey" with me again, but I know I am living a lie. So, you're damned if you do and your damned if you don't!

10:23 AM

 
Blogger Jered said...

As a non believer I have brought my son to church So he would be able to make an informed choice. as a poor single parent who is honest about my beliefs I've watched people scurry to convert my beliefs in the form of food employment and human interaction. as they see my non believing conviction I am seen as a closed minded bad parent and as they strip me of the help we need a pasture set up a baptism 4 my son behind my back. at church sermons begin relating with real issues 2 captivate the audience. Then go on to say that god can solve their problems. next they tell people to be nice to non believers otherwise you are just as bad as a non believer. what makes a non believer bad? Now the audience Is on a mission To recruit And the be"Better" Then non believers. Wow this happens at least every sunday To millions of sheep. We are sold marriage Divorce Court proceedings And all of the pharmaceuticals that go with it. Religion even has judges selling our children drugs. I'd like to go to church with my camera and do a documentary from open to close just like a car salesman to show how many people are sold hook line and sinker.

11:37 AM

 
Blogger Jered said...

In my last blog In case it was not clear I'd like to show How preachers are nothing but used car salesman. living on other people's weaknesses.

11:46 AM

 
Blogger Jered said...

With much adversity Too much to blog about I started a company called rise above roofing. as 1 of many attempts to myself my family and my community 2 prove I'm not a victim. my business is failing. if I believe and go to church I would have more business. I come from poverty. it appears as if either I believe or I'm destined to be on street level. how many people that don't believe have not converted but rather conformed too religious jargon in order to feed their families.

12:28 PM

 
Blogger realworthylives said...

Jared, you are so right. I started a second career as a Realtor, and all my friends are from the same, big, famous church I used to go to. They tell me, if you keep "believing", you are going to make lots of money through all the church connections! I will probably not make a nickel, looking for buyers and sellers that are not "believers". Detroit has thousands of real cheap homes for sale. Maybe all the Atheists should put some money together, buy all the homes on the same streets, and move there and start an Atheist Community! I would move there in a minute!

5:17 PM

 
Blogger Jered said...

Sorry about the rants. this is my first time blogging this issue affectspeople to the core.including my boy.

5:36 PM

 
Blogger Erkka Kulmala said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:47 PM

 
Blogger Erkka Kulmala said...

Who give fuck about earning money. I want love, dry and warm shelter, water and food. Look at the sky and see the universe. Look around in the woods and see all the plants. Look around when you are among the people who love you as you are. There is our religion.

Greeting from Finland.

5:50 PM

 
Blogger AHA said...

Great Idea. I too thought about this one day. I was reminiscing on the old days of pot luck dinners and camp meetings. I sure wish we had something like this, but for secularists/humanists/atheists/regular average people who just want to have fun. LOL No Fear mongering @all

1:17 PM

 
Blogger Shishka said...

I concur, I don't know when this was updated last but if you still update lemme know what you think of this. http://fcsliving.blogspot.com/

4:42 PM

 
Blogger Lexi Bass said...

I have been looking into starting a specifically not religious church myself, one based more on aesthetics, ethics and philosophical research and discussion. Like a university but much smaller. My problem has been finding a word for it.

If you look at definitions for "church" they're specifically "public" and "Christian." So for non-profit status how do you get around that. The word cult doesn't work. You can't start a "cult" with 501c3 status. What do you call a "church" that is not based on religion, but instead based on art, philosophy and maybe more of the ideas the Unitarian "church" is based on. Even "Unitarian is defined as this: "a person, esp. a Christian, who asserts the unity of God and rejects the doctrine of the Trinity." What is the word for "church" for a non-religious congregation?

11:12 AM

 
Blogger Cheryl Ensom Dack said...

I think the word is "community." Or, perhaps, it's "tribe."

2:23 PM

 
Blogger Dave777 said...

There is an atheist church movement known as Sunday Assembly

http://www.sundayassembly.com

I have attended the one in Chicago. Nice group of people.

12:19 PM

 

Post a Comment

<< Home