Hello,

 

I have been complete Atheist for under a year (Agnostic for much longer), and used to go to a Christian church. I brought my daughters along, and my eldest has expressed a few times that she misses going to church. I admit it would be nice if there was a "church" of atheists, or some sort of fellowship, but I did not find anything around this bible belt town. The closest thing I found was a few UU congregations fairly close by.

 

I was wondering, what are these churches like? I have read some of the literature online and it seems pretty safe, and they are very inclusive. My thinking is, if my daughter wants a church family this is the best option.

 

Thoughts?

 

Thanks!

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Yeah, I did notice the large amounts of woo in the literatur about UU churches. Too bad Missouri is such a haul from Middle TN - I would love to go to the Ethical Society of St. Louis!

I think I may check out UU. At the very least it will give my daughters a more diverse exposure to woo, instead of just the Christian kind. It will be easier to introduce Atheism down the road.

Thanks for your input!
I've had similar discussions before.

The kind of place we often rest on agreeing on is an Atheists Public Forum, or as I like calling it "Atheist Agora"
Just a meet and greet and intellectual exchange. Like a cocktail party, but, without the copious amounts of alcohol.

It's not uncommon to see quiet peaceful forums of many types hosted in front of outdoor cafe's where I lived last. Sometimes it was just a group of people gathered around in a circle in an open discussion, or sometimes someone had prepared something to say and they engaged them in debate.

I would like to see more of this sort of thing.
I'm an atheist UU (and I'm new here - this is my first post). We joined our Fellowship (our congregation does not call itself a church) in part because we live in the Bible Belt, we have kids, and we're hoping to inoculate them against the Baptists, et al, that they get exposed to on a regular basis. We've found a great community of people, most of whom would identify as atheists/agnostics/humanists. Our kids are getting a good religious and ethical education in their YRE classes (which I find is important in understanding our culture & literature) and my oldest has taken OWL classes, which is a comprehensive sex ed course. In addition, I've done a lot of discussion groups, book groups and other similar activities which have been great outlets for me. We've met a lot of like-minded friends.

If you're thinking about checking UU out, I would say to be selective about your congregation. Some are more Christian-y or Pagan-y than others. There is no doctrine or creed, so the decisions about what direction the services take and what activities are offered is made at a congregational level.
Welcome!

I also live in the bible belt, in a small town - the nearest UU church, no matter which of the three I chose, would be about 45 minutes away. I am in the same boat as you, wanting to innoculate my kids against all the fundie craziness that is prevalent here.

Thank you for your input!
I go to the Church of Freethought in Houston. It's nice and we learn about other religions. One 'sermon' was about different creation stories and there was lots of laughter. Nice group of non-believers
I have been to a few different UU congregations, each has its own dynamic. The ones that I've attended have church rituals (sermons, songs, lighting of candles) and incorporate philosophy from several religions without proclaiming a gospel. The congregation: spiritualists, buddhists, liberal Christians, and agnostics.
Sometimes we go if a speaker is giving a talk that we like...
I have been to ours two times now. I don't think there is very much woo there but it is hard to judge having only been twice. Both times there has been a speaker discussing a topic I was interested in. I am starting to consider the option a little more seriously also as an inoculation against a whole lot of "Jesus loves me" that got dumped on my youngest child recently. I haven't acted on the idea just yet because I am a little concerned about the idea of normalizing church.
I am actually torn on this one because it could be beneficial for her to start going somewhere that reinforces that idea that many people believe many things. That way she might not be so eager to glom on to whatever certain people tell her.

My concern is that if church becomes a normal part of life for her it seems as though it could go a couple of directions. I would hate for it to just become another case of "what my church does is right and what yours does is wrong." That seems like the incorrect thing to endorse. Another problem that I see with legitimizing church is that it might also give off the message that all church is ok. If church is ok in her mind that would make the church where they tell her she is a sinner is ok too. I don't really want her to think that telling people that is ok nor do I want her to believe that about herself.

No matter what it is hard to see her so confused. I worry that making church a normal part of life will confuse her even more, or possibly make her think that folks who say you have to go to church to be a good person are right.

I mentioned this discussion to my husband and we are both very interested to see what kind of feedback we get on this, as I am sure the original poster is.
I don't think that at all. She is very bright.

This is going to be one of those slippery slope arguments and I am not thrilled to be making it but it is the conflict I am having and this seems to be a good place to try to resolve it :)

I was never out to raise kids who are full of hate, but I was hoping to encourage a distrust of church. We have family members that are in "Jesus Camp deep" with the hands on healing, hell houses and talking in tongues. I was raised in it. They are more than happy to insist upon their version of what is ok and what isn't. I suppose starting a church life of any kind feels a bit like opening the door to the acceptance of some of these things.

Don't get me wrong, I like the religious education program that I have read about from the UU. I like many of the topics that they discuss. I like that most of the people I have met are welcoming and they avoid god-speak. They work to better their community and promote peaceful productive lives and they have a humanist mission statement. I think that these aspects would be very beneficial to our family. We have friends who go there for the same reasons we are considering it and they say it has helped a lot. It would be nice to meet up afterwards for breakfast and do some family things. I also think that having a group to go to in place of Sunday service with other relatives is a great thing to have in place.

We went yesterday just to get a better feel of it and I was turned off by singing from the hymnal (even though the words were surprisingly benign) lighting the candle, the passing of the collection plate and moments of silence. Those ritualistic things contribute to a certain ambiance that all churches seem to have.

I am making it sound like a gateway drug and it is probably stupid but that is my concern. When I was young I was in deep too. The idea of any of that business playing out in my kids lives before they are old enough to understand why they are so scared all the time and full of hatred makes me a little sick to my stomach. I got out but no one else in my family did and they seem to be fine writing me off as a loss. Now that they are starting to target my kids I would prefer that they come off as weird instead of normal. If church seems normal they might actually want to go with them and this is why I am concerned that church might not be an innocent thing to participate in.

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