Last night, the staff of the church which I serve as Director of Music had a fundraising dinner that was a tremendous amount of FUN. And honestly, even though it was a church event, I don't think the fun we had was even remotely related to religion. We, the staff, served our guests dinner and participated in various games that were inspired by games featured on some late night TV shows, including a fairly epic Lip Sync Battle (a la Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight Show). I did "Dream On" by Aerosmith, and the pastor did "Ice, Ice, Baby" by Vanilla Ice. Hilarious.
So yes, I've recently come to a realization that I don't believe in God, which could end up being a problem for my church job somewhere down the road. But for right now, I enjoy working and having fun with these people. They're funny, they don't have a problem with looking silly, and they're good people. We have a lot of laughs, and we work hard trying to make the church a welcoming, comfortable place. Which brings me to a question that popped into my head: can religion serve a social function that is mostly separate from the supernatural beliefs of its members? Now, right away, I understand that there can be problems with this idea. Far too often, religion (particularly Christianity in this country) becomes an oppressive force in society. Look at the psychos at the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, picketing funerals. But, in all fairness, looking at my church, they have programs that help provide assistance for people who are having trouble paying medical bills, they put together backpacks of food and supplies for local school children living in poverty, they visit people in hospitals and bring food to the sick, and a perform a variety of other ministries that are genuinely positive for the surrounding community. Would many of these people have come together to achieve these things without the framework of the church that unites them?
Once one realizes (as I have) that the supernatural elements of the religion itself don't make sense, it becomes a challenge to determine one's course. Sure, I could just stop and say, "Hey y'all, I really don't believe in any of this stuff any more. I'll see ya around." But that would deprive my family of a significant percentage of our income, as well as depriving them of a largely positive social context. Or I can (as I'm currently doing) find the good in what my church job (and the church itself) offers, and enjoy the company of people with whom I share a variety of interests beyond religion. That's where I am at the moment, and I'm fine with that. I'm curious as to whether anyone else here at Think Atheist has had similar experiences.