Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Take an Atheist To Church Day

I'm seriously considering doing a take an atheist to church experiment, if there's enough interest.
I would solicit invitations to Church (an invitation that includes buying me lunch would certainly have an advantage.) I will choose one invite to accept, and attend a church service or mass or what have you, Muslim, Christian, Konko, Jewish, Buddhist, whatever.
I will be respectful and attentive. My respect and my love for the theists in my life, including those in my family will lead me to behave myself. I'm interested in showing and receiving respect, not in poking fun or agitating.
I will make it clear that trying to convert me will not be likely, (though such efforts are perfectly welcome) but I will encourage open, frank discussion of things like prayer in school, and the ten commandments in government building.
Thoughts?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Last year I went to my childhood church by myself for a Sunday morning service. Kinda just a trip down memory lane.

It was exactly how I remember it: cheery uplifting inspirational message tainted with close-mindedness, hatred, and thinly-veiled political references. And it was still too damn long and almost put me to sleep.

-Matt W.
Atheist
Sacramento, CA

Erick said...

I think it is a good idea, I went to a Jehovah's witness church service, I have never had so many people look down on me for not having a religious faith. I'm sure it would be very interesting to see how some other religions handle it.

Keith Lowell Jensen said...

Thanks Matt and Erick.

I too have been to church recently, first a Catholic Mass and then JW, in both cases for funerals of theists who were dear to me.
The JW's didn't know that I was Atheist, and people rarely assume such, but I'd have to say they were very nice to me.
The Catholic church experience was nostalgic and strange, but we were all focused on grief more than on any religious differences.

When my friend Mike died, last year, the priest actually acknowledged that there many of us who did not have faith and he let us know we were welcome and that he was glad to share Mike's memory with us. I was surprised and impressed.

Simone said...

I think you'd need to be careful of whose invitation you took up on it. I know my mother, bless her, does not share my depth of thought nor does she understand it, so if I went, she'd be way too hopeful that I would see something and revert back. She wouldn't realise the continual dissection of everything I heard that would be going on in my mind. I find myself doing that at funerals. I certainly can never say anything then about how much bollocks I think they are talking, "No, they aren't going to heaven, they're just DEAD."

And I guess it would depend on the kind of discussion you could expect afterward. If could get nasty, then obviously it's something to avoid!

Keith Lowell Jensen said...

Yeah, it's weird being an atheist at a funeral eh?
I mean, it's the last place where I'd want to be preachy or to be preached to, but it's a particularly emotional place and sharing the grief with people who deal with it, well I'll just say they deal with in a very different way than I do, it's all so odd.
I am very quiet at such events. I give and receive hugs and smile at sharing stories. That's my favorite part. The two people who I know who died over Christmas were both HEAVILY religious.

As far as whose invite I accept, I will consider the invites careful, if I get any at all, which is ultimately the deciding factor here.

crowliosis said...

You're welcome to come to church with me any time you want. I'll even take you to lunch anywhere you want to go in this town after (no place in town that's open for Sunday lunch is more than $20 a plate). It's a Methodist church, so basically it's very organized, cheerful, and non-judgemental (as long as you stay away from my grandmother, oh, and ignore the whispering). So, yeah, just let me know when you are gonna come to NC and I'll hook you up, maybe they'll give me an award for bringing an athiest to church

Anonymous said...

crowliosis said:
"It's a Methodist church, so basically it's ... non-judgemental..."

I can't speak for your personal beliefs, but the official Methodist doctrine is just as judgmental as any other christian religion.

While the Methodist Church is somewhat split on this issue, the official church doctrine is still very judgmental against homosexuality.

From the Book of Discipline:

"Since the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be accepted as candidates, ordained as ministers or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church."

That seems judgmental to me. Also, like all christian religions of protestant origin, Methodists are judgmental of anyone that doesn't have a personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ. They will go to HELL, which is forever. Now, of course, Methodists have a very soft version of hell that is never much talked about, which is just seperation from god, but still.

From United Methodist Church official website (www.umc.org):

"We believe that all humans need to be in relationship with God in order to be fully human"

I guess I'm not fully human. That sucks.

Matt W.
Sacramento, CA

crowliosis said...

that was meant to be light-hearted and humorous Matt, and yes I'm perfectly aware of the doctrine. As far as the non-judgemental comment, I have seen people in my church get publicly caught doing some very bad things, they get the cold shoulder for a couple of months and then everybody just pretends it never happened. Try that in a hell-fire and brimstone baptist church. But seriously, everyone has the right to choose eternal damnation if they like and to quote Charles Darwin, "ain't no skin off my ass"

Anonymous said...

You're right crowliosis, my apologies. Here I am on Keith's comedy website getting all serious (as I do on his myspace blog as well). Sorry. I need to start my own blog where I can just rant all day long.

Cheers.

Matt W.
Sacramento, CA

Keith Lowell Jensen said...

It's alright Matt. It's not really a comedy website, just a blog that happens to belong to a comedian.
I didn't think you were all that out of line, and I do think Crowliosis seems like a right nice fellow who can handle a bit of the ol' ))<>(( forever.
See ya Sunday, you know, at church. :)