How Non-Believers Can Make the Most of Religious Services

The above post from Patheos.com got me thinking: I know most atheists probably don't care to attend church, for obvious reasons. But how many non-believers DO attend church regularly, to support a spouse or friend, for social benefits, or just because they still haven't "come out of the closet" with their lack of belief? 

I'm the Director of Music at a Methodist church, and basically, I love my job. The people I work with share many of my interests outside of religion, they're cool, decent folks. The choir I direct is a group of talented, dedicated people. And I get paid to do music, which is what I spent so much time (and money) in grad school learning to do. Why would I leave my job, especially in the current economy? But meanwhile, I have come to the realization that I really don't actually believe in God any more. I'm not going to share that with anyone at this time, because (A) it would hurt the feelings of people who I care about very much, and (B) it would most likely endanger my job.

Anyway, enough about me. My point is, how many people do you suppose (especially in America) are non-believers, but still participate fully in a church community?  I would guess it's a fairly large number, and I don't think all of them are miserable, just wishing they could tell others what they really think about faith, God, the Bible, etc. 

General consensus on Think Atheist understandably tends to promote the idea of atheists proudly rejecting all of the trappings of religious belief. And for those who are able to do that, great! I totally support that, and I reject attempts by believers to oppress those people, something which turns up in the news disturbingly often. But for those who are remaining in the church for whatever reason, I wonder, can we find things that still make it worthwhile? I know I have, and I admit, it's not always easy. 

Please understand, I'm just trying to open a little dialogue here. I'm not interested in any comments that are simply of the "you need to be honest, and tell others what you really think" variety. As I mentioned above, I get that viewpoint. It's just not what I'm talking about here. So, thanks for reading, and feel free to share your thoughts.

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Comment by Simon Mathews on August 26, 2016 at 11:46am

I am an atheist and I think that most of the things that go on in church are worthwhile and positive. It's like a huge club. The aspect I don't like about it is, as Peter Boghossian puts it, pretending to know things you don't know. It is the conviction of the theist in the face of evidence that is frustrating.

However, my other half is Greek Orthodox and I have been to their church a few times and it wasn't an unpleasant experience. A little boring (especially as the service was in Greek) but it was basically just a bunch of people getting together and having fun and chatting. A community group. Nothing wrong with that.

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