My name is Barry. Not too long ago I was on here after having suffered a crushing blow at an SBC church as a former associate pastor. I actually came across this site looking for people who had been scorned by the church in their past. My scorn was in regards to child safety. There were serious safety issues in the children's program run by a very prominent family in that church and when I went to address them under the direction of the senior pastor, I was quickly threatened and intimidated to keep my mouth shut if I valued my job. They also tried to force me to make my children part of their program even though I was not confident in it at all. This left me with a choice: either tow the church political line and act as if nothing happened, or stand up for children whose safety and well-being was put at risk. The experience left me so emotionally bruised that I wound up resigning in disgust of the church - especially since the senior pastor quickly betrayed me and sold me down the river the moment things got to politically hot for him. His famous last words to me were "Barry, this church is dysfunctional; it's not going to change." This was my cue to exit.
Any way, what I wanted to ask was for a few good atheists to give me their take on the institution we all know as church. If you have roots specifically in the SBC, that is a plus. The reason why I am asking for you to do this is that I intend to start writing about it. There are many problems within the church - starting with the fact that it is an aging, irrelevant, and corrupt institution that is more concerned with power and control than it is with providing freedom, salvation, and enlightenment to humanity.
Oh, and if you are wondering as to whether or not I am a theist? The answer is yes - just not the same one I was several months ago or even years ago, and I am not a pastor anymore. I am not here to debate whether there is a God or not; nor do I wish to convert anyone - the reason why this site exists is because many of you on here have already made up your mind definitively and I would rather respect your position than attack it. You are welcome to ask any question you may have of me if you are skeptical.
Your example is the norm.
To an Atheist, hypocrisy in all religions and the offshoots of those religions is routine. The catholic church, which is one of the biggest and wealthiest, only survive because of the way they treat the average person, which they, and we, call sheep. Even catholics pick and choose what they follow, and justify it in their minds.
All theists of every persuasion, cherry pick, and if they don't like something, 'let's call it a metaphor'.
The deaths that followers of these books cause, is in the millions.
The likes of Danny Hinns, Ted Hagart, do some very basic research, and you will find a myriad of names. The pedophiles in the Jehova Witness lot.
Who knows how rife it is, 'cause a bunch of old men, who love their power, cover it up.
Read about ex theists, and what and why, happened to them. It is all on the internet, a really good guide to a lot of information.
That is not to say, there are good theists around, just not enough. Of those good theists, why aren't they jumping up and down, not just one lone voice, but the virtual 'multiitudes' calling out the hypocrites in their own group. Why aren't catholics screaming how their 'holy leaders' are covering up crimes against humanity. Why aren't theists screaming about the murder and bashings of gays.
Atheists are, why not theists.
Find out about the hypocrisy of the Exclusive Brethren, how they were not allowed modern devices, TV, radio, computers, the reading of newspapers, fax, anything where they will collect knowledge, other than from their preacher.
The following is an insight into, 'We are better than all these common heathens".
Their leader, Bruce Hale, in downtown Sydney, not only uses every new technology, but also sells them, and at a huge profit, from his own followers.
It is all about the money, power, control, misogyny. No such thing as a 'good book'. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, all evil.
Hypocrisy in every church and religion.
I think that some of the most interesting people on this site is the young'uns, who have analysed their situation, and the bible, and come to the conclusion that they are in fact, an Atheist, and the repercussions of their decision, either they come out of the closet, and the wrath of their loving xian family, to the disownment of same loving xian family.
This takes incredible guts, as these are still considered children by their parents, and should not be thinking for themselves, and how dare these children go against the word of god, and they will end up in hell.
Just one example, http://www.atheistrev.com/2011/05/damon-fowler-kicked-out-of-parent...
and there are also many examples of these smart and brave 'kids' on this site.
I did something similar at my graduation, just mentioning the church/state issue was enough to make me just a little more not in the 'in group'. Oh well, Over the years it became obvious that I was not even invited to our class reunions. To think that I was significantly more wishy washy then, than now.
Okay. So now that I have a few good answers, I have more questions? If church (as in Christian) were to exist in a different form, what would you expect/demand of it? What would be your ideal. Suspend the idea/philosophy of theology in your response for a moment, and instead think of what something, like the church, should embody. I am looking for how you would interpret it in action since, as with all human beings, action reveals belief/belief systems of others. Anyone can say: "I believe in Jesus" as most Christians say; however, this is a mere intellectual ascent to the "collective" or "hive" mentality of the group - which is found in almost any group of people regardless of belief or non-belief because, ultimately, it revolves around a person's desire to be accepted by others. If you think something like the church should not exist at all - go for it and tell me! Explain your answer as to why because I am interested in knowing why. If ultimately the desire of every human being is to be accepted by his/her fellow human beings, what can be done to propel this forward?
No church should exist.
Why you ask? Church is a place of worship to god[christian god], then we don't need any since there is no evidence for any such god.
As I said, suspend theology for a moment in your response. When I say church, I am actually concerned with an organization/association/assembly of human being. Take God out of the equation, and think in humanistic terms.
You are being duplicitous, if you wish to ask a question about:
...an organization/association/assembly of human being...
then loading your post with references to "Church" "Christian" "Jesus" and then instructing the respondent to suspend theology in their response is disingenuous.
BTW your own post contains it's own answer:
...ultimately, it revolves around a person's desire to be accepted by others...
I only speak using those terms because I am familiar with them. I should have explained that I am familiar with the Greek terms often translated into English as "church." To clarify, I am referencing church as in ekklesia (association, assembly) and not kuriakos (things concerning the lord) in regards to the Christian scriptures.
Ekklesia referred to many things when Greek was the common tongue of commerce in the first century. It could be used in reference to a "guild" such as a "merchant's guild," and early Christians used this term to describe their association/assembly. I, personally, see many forms of "churches" in this sense (good and bad). They do not have to have a building to exist because the ekklesia is simply composed of people. Thus, I use this term in a way that is familiar to me in my vocabulary. I apologize for any misunderstanding.
"Suspending theology" means to remove it from the current concept of church as you understand it and replace it with something you find more appealing, worthwhile, and ultimately desire from your own heart.
As for my own post containing my own answer - that's just it! I don't want my own answer since I know it already. I want other people's answers, perspectives, and specifics - not just mine.
Then if we remove theology from the concept, then we can have many churches where we can have beer, discuss philosophy and listen to operas
Or tend 'the garden' in peace?
Yes, these are good starting points. Another example is my Wing Chun School I am a part of. We do not have a formal building except for a garage in the back of the instructor's house. We train year round without heat or air conditioning, we have cookouts together, and we just share our love for the martial arts. Many are from different belief systems. Some believe in God, some don't but we all have one thing in common and that is our love for Wing Chun - and that unites us as human beings, without the nasty politics and business of church.
What's more, the instructor does not teach Wing Chun with an interest in making money at it. He teaches for the love of the art. Dues are only $50/month for up keep of the place, and he has a day job as a chiropractor and functional movement specialist. Thus, we are not seen to him as "clients" or "customers" we are seen family members and accepted despite our differences.
This is an example of what I call "church without Church," and when I am there, I feel most alive.
I am stating this to spur the conversation on.
Barry, does this help?