I identify as Lesbian, Secular Humanist / Atheist and am an Officer of our local PFLAG support group (Parents, Family/Friends of Lesbians And Gays). I have a question about how a church sect can say they 'accept Atheists'.
In this small Arizona town, only United church of Christ (UCC) claims to be 100% Open-And-Affirming, meaning they welcome, embrace and empower ALL peoples including those of diverse sexual orientation and gender variations. UCC apparently also has the longest history of empowering LGBT in clergy positions. UCC 's Reverend (a straight ally) is also a committed and visibly-active PFLAG member as are many of their congregation; she's also a friend of mine. As a PFLAG Officer, I often refer our religious members to UCC so they can have a caring spiritual 'family'. Often our LGBT members have been rejected by both their families and their former church so they need a sense of belonging, of which I understand. When the new PFLAG folks hesitated about going to UCC (as they were brainwashed by their own church), I've accompanied them so he/she does not feel alone going the first time. If you've seen the movie Prayers for Bobby, you'll know why I take my stance.
I respect UCC's Reverend for being very active for Equality and Human Rights. She also is VERY active in try to get other churches/religions to accept LGBT's. What I'm confused about is The Reverend says UCC aslo welcomes and accepts Atheists, Pagans also. She says 'spirit' can mean that 'gut feeling' one gets when they do something right. While I applaud the Reverend's supporting all peoples, I found the UCC services to contain a fair amount of the usual 'god', bible references, religious hymns and even a communion once (with the s 'body of christ' script) - I felt guilty for not participating once when Reverend handed the wafer/wine to me which I accidentally flubbed by eating my wafer immediately, ha. Granted, this Reverend does not 'push religion'... it's just that flock mentality behavior that tends to kick in when you are in the midst of most people doing 'the same thing'.
So, I pose this question to all you have come from clergy background or who have church marketing skills: can a church or religious sect (i.e. UCC) truly accept Atheists or is there an underlying clergy hope that us Atheists would 'become religious' once we see how accepting they are? Truth be known, I'll never go backward and can only see religion for what it is (a Business)... but I'm somewhat envious of religious people who have that 'home/family' of like-minded folks.