Atheist Church - My Journey Back to Community

My family and I left Christianity about 4 years ago, and I've been an active member of ThinkAtheist since before then.  Recently something has happened in my life that I really want to share.
 
As Christians, my family and I were actively involved in church.  I was leading 4 Bible studies each week, and one of them was a family-oriented small group which met in our home.  Christianity really was a way of life for us.
 
In 2008 we realized that Christianity wouldn't allow us to live moral lives as we understood morality, and we stopped going to church and I stopped leading those Bible studies.  It's been a painful couple of years as those we considered close friends rejected us because they couldn't be friends with people who didn't believe like they did.
 
I know I've struggled quite a bit over these past few years.  I work among people I used to go to church with, so my everyday environment wasn't accepting of my new life.
 
As a Christian I studied community.  I sincerely believe that humans function best in community, and life is most difficult when we live outside the herd or tribe.
 
I'm writing this because in the past few weeks an amazing thing has happened. I've joined a group of Atheist which meet on Sunday mornings to 'practice community.'  The group was founded by a former Lutheran pastor who had to admit to his congregation he was an Atheist, and leave his church.  This is the Houston group in this article, which recently appeared in the Washington Post here.
 
There is a trend toward Atheist communities happening not only in the USA, but it other parts of the World as well.  I'd like to believe this trend will lead to somewhat permanent solutions in everyday life for unbelievers like us.
 
Now I have a confession to make:  Over the past 4 years, every week on Saturday evening or Sunday morning I would experience a mild depression, and a longing to be back in a group of people with whom I found safety for me and my family.  The best thing I found to do was to scour the pages of ThinkAtheist to try to immerse myself in like-minded thought.  I'm truly grateful for the community that I've found here, but I also recognize that online community can only go so far.
 
I also recognize that there has been some debate among Atheists regarding the value of 'imitating church' as some put it.  I believe I understand the arguments, and I also understand that there are different kinds of Atheists.  I feel fortunate that I've found what works for me and I wish everyone could find what works for them.
 
Without a doubt I'll continue to hang out here at ThinkAtheist, but I'd encourage all of you to find ways you can transform your beliefs or lack of beliefs into a regular part of your lives offline as well as online.

Tags: church, community, herds, social, tribes

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Hi there, what you is very true for most people; let's say about 90% of us  are coming from religions & sects etc. The usual causes are, there is no real interaction with gods or demons unless  re movies which are used as propaganda tools in a very cunning way. This is big business in action all the time. This is all to cover up the lack of any answer from the sky or outer space. So this is old news, except something very unusual has changed! what could make a huge amount of money for the non religious later on down the track. It is possible that you have done the right thing walking away from religion even though it is pretty hard to do in normal lifestyle.

I agree that there should be a place where the non-religious can congregate to share ideas. Although, I disagree with the idea of calling it an "Atheist Church" because church has a religious tone to it. Instead, I think that the place of meeting should be immediately distinguishable from a church in the looks, the set up.. just everything. The atheist churches that I've heard and seen online typically give outsiders the impression that atheism is a religion and the set-up is shockingly close to a typical Christian one. I personally don't like how they are structured but the messages are still important.

Nearly all of us are in agreement that this gathering shouldn't be called Atheist church.  Sometimes we call it that to each other out of jest, but normally we call it our 'free-thinkers group'.

I was questioned about this by my Christian co-workers.  One went so far as to say that it proves the legitimacy of Christianity that a group of Atheists would copy church.  I told him simply that Christians don't own Sunday mornings, but the truth is there isn't any more convenient time of the week for us to meet than Sunday morning.  I could also say that the main talk closely resembles a TED Talk, but the fact remains that TED Talks closely resemble church sermons. So what do we do about that?

Hi there, I would suggest if I may to call the group after names of the planets. I would not use PLUTO, as that means HADES, to the romans, the name ARTEMUS re goddess of the hunt re DIANA re MOON & the animals, or other planet names etc. What you were saying about the main talks, that is normal for it to drift that way .What may have happened in the brain structure, the childhood religious conditioning for some reason did not cripple the mental ability & alertness to the format structure of the conditioning of  information based upon fear & non fact also weak evidence.

TED Talks, in my opinion, are different from church sermons because they all don't connect to one central point that everyone should follow. TED Talks are presented by people's experiences and what they think should be done about that particular subject. You don't see anything like this in a church because church sermons are basically different stories that still push the same point repetitively. Something at a non-religious congregation would bring in many more ideas and viewpoints that a typical church won't have.

I wouldn't be too concerned with the label others might apply to the meeting together of like-minded atheists. If it looks like a church to theists who cares. The important consideration is that you're gaining comfort and a means to fill a void in your life. Hopefully the trend will continue.

An "atheist church" is an oxymoron if ever I heard one.

Atheists should commune with non-atheists. We shouldn't become a mutual admiration society. Potato salad made by a fundamentalist Christian probably tastes just as good as one made by anatheist.

You don't live among Southern Baptists, do you?  The choice to not commune with the non-atheists around me isn't my choice.

How is their potato salad?

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