Atheist Church Planting.

“Live better, help often, wonder more,” seem like reflections somewhere between an agnostic and a Secular Humanist.  It also seems like something that would appeal to millions of people.  It is the “creed” of new atheist churches being started around the world.  Those who lead it seem to know their business.

To atheists who dislike churches in general, this development is unpleasant.  “I left the faith because I did not like church,” they might say.  To them I would make these observations.

Christians made lots of their symbols and ceremonies look familar to pagans the faith they stole members from.  They did this so pagans could feel comfortable.

Christians dropped the requirement of circumcision–a good marketing play.  So, atheists need to have gatherings that appear to be something like church services to make many people feel comfortable.

About one in four adults attend church on Sunday mornings in the U. S.   Maybe one out of four nonbelievers would enjoy somewhere to go, something to do, on Sunday mornings.  This is especially true for adults with children.

The link says the group starting several of these churches in several cities needs about $800,000 to launch the effort–most of which they have not collected.

There seems to be a growing population of nonbelievers.  It seems only reasonable there will be many different ways people will choose to experience their skepticism, and, a “church” may be one.

I hope they will not spend gazillions of dollars on staff and buildings the way religious churches have done.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57611751/atheist-mega-churches-take-root-across-u.s-world/

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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54 Responses to Atheist Church Planting.

  1. Wanna B Sure says:

    Almost everyone needs community. If one thing is eliminated, something usually replaces it. The Freethinkers meetings is evidence of a replacement. Even a coming together of like minded individuals on the internet could be considered a community. Virtually every “community “has a common declaration of shared agreement, (credo), be it positive or negative.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Wanna 2:12 “Almost everyone needs community. If one thing is eliminated, something else usually replaces it.”

      Good point. One of the functions of atheist/agnostic/humanist meetings also is for people to gain the confidence to reveal or self identify to all their circle they do not believe. In the new meet up group, which I can only attend infrequestly, there are still lots of people who attend secretly–many of their family and coworkers do not know about this part of their lives. I wish this was not so.

      • entech says:

        You do hear from different non-believer sites of quite a number of people who, on finding such a group, express relief at finding that were far from being alone in their movement away from the faith they were brought up. Not necessecarily atheist but the realisation that other possibilities exist, that is all we can argue and hope for.

  2. entech says:

    It started as a joke but it is growing. As the number of faithful in America falls as shown on this link
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57529286/study-protestants-no-longer-a-majority-in-u.s/
    Perhaps it will grow even quicker as all the people dropping one congregation find a need for a new “congregation”.

    There are more than one “spiritual more than religious” organisations, Sea of Faith has a fair sized membership, their meetings have as wide a range of speakers as you can think off.

  3. Wanna B Sure says:

    Next up——splits, mergers, and “denomination” wars among those of non belief.

    • entech says:

      I can just imagine wars over the non-nature of the non-son of the non-existent. What form would non-christolgy take, a non-reform perhaps. Could we have non-indulgences for non-sins. Sounds like non-sense.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        11:44

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        entech 12:40 “I can just imagine wars over the non-nature of the non-son of the non-existent. What form would non-christology take, a non-reform perhaps…non-indugences for non-sins..”

        Then whose non-blood would we sip? There could be disagreements on whether we are ex trinities or ex one of the three musketeers.

        On your other post, it’s hard to see why Protestants are falling faster than Catholics. Protestants should advertise, “Hell free divorce and remarriage.”

        • pqbd says:

          Maybe a species of catechism taught by Nons.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Oh now boys, you know very well those aren’t your issues. I can see arguments over what color Jello to serve at your pot lucks, if one is too strident, or not strident enough. Which political issues are the most important first, what kind of building to assemble, who leads. Who gives most to the poor, and how it is distributed, (I expect this to be a competitive issue). There are many non-issues for opportunity of disagreement not even thought of. There are several different groups of non-belief now, and they all don’t agree on everything. Jon has revealed that within the Freethinkers already. It is in human nature to compete, and think his/her way is best. In time, in due time. We’ll see how it goes in 20-40 years.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Wanna 2:44 “Oh now boys, you know well these aren’t your issues.”

            This is so much fun I can’t stop. There could be a split among nonbelievers over which version of the non-end of the world is more ridiculous, the one where Jesus floats down, then floats right back up, or, the one where he floats down, stays a thousand years, then floats back up.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon: come back to earth. I haven’t even come close to what you claim/assume. You have gone septic. Start back at the top.

          • entech says:

            To my knowledge their are only two basic divisions amongst “The Atheists”:
            Those , like Jon, that try and engage in a reasonable way when allowed and are open to sensible discussion. A respectful disagreement And.
            Those like PZ Myer, who say that atheists should stand up and point out that religion and science are in opposition and that the only sensible response is mockery. The kind that would think the last paragraph on my 8:32 was fair comment instead of a bit of silly sarcasm.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            And the last paragraph of Jon’s 4:11 was not a fair and reasonable comment, but all sarcasm.

          • entech says:

            Really I thought that Jon @ 4:11 was a fair and reasonable response to your 2:44.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Mind the “blinkers”. (Your word).
            Before Jon’s 4:11 and his “blood- sip” in his 2:29 , I would have considered him to be on one end of the spectrum, with PZ on the other, but his comments reveal a similarity between him and PZ.

            As for the” basic divisions”, It is clear you missed my original points . It was clear in my 2:44 that I wasn’t referring to the “isms”. but the “ecclesiastics”, (in the traditional sense) —(structure, administration, property, etc.

          • entech says:

            The only thing that is clear, is that you are becoming increasingly desperate in your need to be in opposition and to make yourself out as superior.

            The colour of the jello is as relevant to reality as whether Chapter 1 of Genesis is literally true or whether Chapter 2 is literally true, they are both wrong as Augustine of Hippo is my witness.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            It is becoming increasingly clear that you have become more and more sensitive to the very least of contradictions to your opinion.
            I would “sour grapes” would be you preferred Jello.
            Your reference and application of Augustine is based on poor information.

          • entech says:

            You can only be sensitive to the words of someone for whom you have respect, you gave up any right to respect a long time ago with gratuitous insults to my wife and mother.

            It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are. Augustine on the literal interpretation of Genesis.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            You have made this accusation before. Please provide proof.
            The context of Augustine is not in line with your accusation.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I don’t remember calling you a SOB. That’s not my style. Deserved or not.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            But then, it is a clever diversion away from the topic at hand.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            day, date, time please. Also include the whole topic for context. You do have a problem with context.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            NEXT DAY——- Just as I thought. All noise, bluster and bluff. When your thread is thin, try something else. Yes, I’ve seen this before from you. I’m surprised it was so brief this time. It’s usually contained in extended rambling.

          • entech says:

            Actually I was looking for the reference but could not find it. Not that it would matter as you would take your own idiosyncratic view and deny any insult just as you did the first time. You confuse what I meant with personal abuse, I agree I would not expect you to use anything as crude as SOB or similar, I meant a personal insult something rather more subtle. As I recall I was calling you on some fallacy you were using, my example was taken as literal and led to you saying I was incapable of friendship, probably my upbringing and the wife thing came into it as well.

            A recent example of how your nasty mind works. One of our female contributors used the word “dick” as a term of abuse against some politician or other, abuse as indicating her complete rejection of his statements. You immediately, deliberately and dishonestly overlooked the meataphorical use and took the meaning as penis and started questioning her life and asking if this was something that was missing. A little later trying to discuss the use of metaphor I brought this personal insulting behaviour up and not only did you try to defend it you made it worse by saying she brought it up and so she must know a lot about that sought of thing (or similar). Here we have a deliberate misunderstanding deliberately followed by a double attack one on her personal life and an other on her moral values.

            Rarely as extreme but this is a frequent thing with you, it is either deliberate or, more likely, you simply don’t know that you are doing it. I hope it deliberate, the nastiness of a grumpy old man, if it is not mental deterioration is setting in.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Ladies and gentlemen: Now we see an example of personal attack gone amuck. Claim made, claim unproven. More sensitivity, less sense. More anger and frustration. This gentleman’s method is: Everyone’s commentary is fair game, but how dare you respond in kind, or even question me. I can think of a couple clinical terms for this condition, but I decline so as not to hurt his feelings.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            In short——Train wreck.

  4. pqbd says:

    I wonder if these ‘churches’ will get tax exempt status and be able to avoid paying unemployment tax for their employees.

    • Jinx says:

      I have long proposed eliminating the tax exempt status for any religious organization…………they sure have gotten politicized!! Heck, has a planned parenthood clinic manager of a title X non-abortion clinic we could not support anything political while representing or doing PP’s business so why can religious orgs be so priviledged!!!!!!!

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      I don’t see why not. All is fair.

  5. entech says:

    I don’t see why not, after all the more strident of the critics of atheism insist that it is a religion, even a faith. On that basis alone all the other churches should lobby in support of the religious freedom of atheists, the right to freely proclaim their non-beliefs on public property and on advertising signage (no more banning adds because they are “not suitable”.

    And their precedent.
    The IRS has approved the 501(C)3 tax exempt status of the Church of Reality.
    http://www.churchofreality.org/wisdom/introduction/home/we_believe_in_reality_-_the_way_it_really_is!.html

    ;) Speaking of reality, the program “Sleepy Hollow” is showing on local television, there is a malicious rumour going around that many school children in Texas think it is a reality show like Survivor or Big Brother. :roll:

  6. H.P Drifter says:

    Jon

    Re atheist churches just musing

    Really I think it is fellowship that is important thing where people of similar desires and ideas can get together away from every day life and discuss the things that are important to them. The idea of a church kinds of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. A multi-functional dwelling of some sort where the people can attend and be free of hate mongers, hecklers, zealots of all kinds and simply discuss issues that have meaning to the people present, with or without an agenda for talking on a certain subject.

    Unfortunately people do need other people to interact with regardless of their status in a free thinking movement. It seems something like this in more communities should be available to the general public. You don’t need to be a card carrying member to attend, nor do you need to adhere to a certain philosophy. My personal philosophy has developed over the years, influenced by education both formal and informal.

    I consider myself a student of life traveling through and a trained observer on other peoples behavior. The BS meter is always running and I try not to get caught up in peoples thoughts, as long they do not attack me personally. It’s better for other people to not get between me and my pen, kind of like getting between a big dog and his bowl.

    Somehow if a fellowship could lead to bigger change, in how the people think in good way, a constructive way. As I said in an earlier post there has to be a better way for people to interact. Society is manufacturing misfits almost as fast as they are born. Basic changes in human interaction has to take place and it seems on the surface anyway nothing is a foot to make me think the changes necessary, will take place. Let me hear some ideas on changing human behavior to make a difference in human existence, from anyone. Give me some ideas, guys, Be civil

    H.P.Drifter

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      H. P. “Let me hear some ideas on changing human behavior to make a difference in human existence…”

      I’ll toss one in from my area of study, economics. If someone’s behavior does not take options away from another, present or future, lets practice live and let live. I object to labeling some behaviors sin and passing laws against them for that reason only (gay marriage).

  7. Ron Gaul says:

    Here are two posts I put on the Sunday Assembly Facebook page. The first post is in response to an atheist who didn’t seem to think the Sunday Assembly was pure enough:

    I don’t get this guy. I’m an atheist, but that is not enough reason to organize a weekly gathering and celebration of our lives, how to improve it, both for us and others. I want a gathering I can take my 4 year old to. I don’t want to rush off after work to meetings, or meetups where I can’t take my kid. I want to celebrate humanism with other atheists, agnostics, secularists, non-religious, and curious believers. Sunday is just fine. We sleep in a little, eat breakfast, and off to singing, preaching and all around gaiety. I want my son to meet other kids, outside of school and daycare, whose parents may share my views . Sunday Assembly has the best idea so far that meets my needs as a single father and atheist.
    ——————————————————————————————–

    “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”
    Henry David Thoreau

    Substitute “go fishing” with “church”, and “fish” with “god”.

    We atheists, agnostics and nonreligious crave human comfort for ourselves and our children like religious people do. An evening seminar, or meeting at the pub for a discourse on science or skepticism is great. Can I take my 4 year old, and what will command his short attention span?

    We must not fall to the “not invented here” trap. So what if we emulate the joy and communal ecstasy of a Sunday evangelical revival? We are an intelligent species. Where would we be if we didn’t innovate? Henry Ford didn’t invent the assembly line, the Chicago stockyards used it first. He didn’t invent interchangeable parts. He didn’t invent auto manufacturing. But he brought together things that were never joined before. Did it not work?

  8. Henry says:

    Jon: “I hope they will not spend gazillions of dollars on staff and buildings the way religious churches have done.”

    Jon, I know of just the place for you. Atheist and low budget (toilet not included). Here is a church made for you:

    https://apps.nd.gov/sc/busnsrch/pdf/getpdf?systemId=35288800&type=Corporation&year=2013

    • entech says:

      Follow the leads and we reach the Vanguard News Network. That looks a lot more like you than anyone else I know Henry.
      Intolerant of anyone different ( I would say hater, but I know that you find that offensive).

      • Henry says:

        They are an atheist church, rejecting Jesus Christ. If this church is mine, you must not see very clearly.

        • entech says:

          Sorry if I was wrong, didn’t look to deeply such things just turn me off, all I saw was anti-homosexual and anti-Semitic.

          • Henry says:

            Ok, I can partially see why you are confused. You have confused the homosexual issue and equated my disapproval of the practice with hate. I am not sure why you would consider an anti-Semitic group would look like me.

          • entech says:

            Just going by your references to the bound will from Luther and Luther’s terrible antisemitism. I keep forgetting how selective people can be (have to be) take the bits they like and reject/ignore the rest.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            We have been here before. Luther’s “The Bondage of the Will”, and “The Jews and Their Lies” are two entirely unrelated matters. Luther was terribly wrong in his rant about the Jews. Correct about the bondage of the will, which regards the inability to see the need of salvation through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, one cannot accept Christ. One however is only free to reject Him. One does not freely choose Christ by one’s free will. This in essence is the bondage of the will. Free will applies in all other matters.

            On the other hand, (not in Luther’s defense), but he would have surely been aware and familiar with the Talmud. One must also be aware of what is contained in some sections, now apparently omitted. See “revisionisthistory.org/talmudtruthhtml” under “Truth about the Talmud”. Read to bottom. One must also remember that the Talmud is not the Torah, and is commentary.

            Entech–It would be advisable for you to head your own words—…”take the bits they like and reject/ignore the rest.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            And then, there is Luther the man, and Luther the Theologian. The early, middle, and late Luther. I’m sure you must be aware of his “Table Talks”, which reveals all sides of him. None of his own words were not divinely inspired, nor considered to be, but he did use the Divine Word. None of his writings are considered on par with the Bible, unless they agree with it. He did say “shit”, and did drink beer, as did all Germans. He lived in the world he was born in, and that world was a crude world compared to the fastidious niceness of today’s standards. It was earthy and blunt.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Oops: Omit “None of”, in front of “His own words…”

          • entech says:

            Wanna, a last word or two, are you so self centred that you have not yet realised, and I have said it often enough, I don’t like any of it and reject all of it. I would ignore all of it but believers keep trying to impose their beliefs on me and the way I choose to live. Living in ostensibly Christian countries we are not allowed to ignore it any more residents in Islamic countries are allowed to ignore the Islamic religion. The difference between the two countries is a matter of degree and opportunity.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Entech; I’m not imposing a thing on you. Only correcting that which you selectively like and reject. You may like to ambush someone on this issue,but it won’t work on those who know the weakness of your conflation. You have tried this before. Didn’t work then, and it won’t work now. If you don’t like it, don’t bring it up in discussion. If you didn’t bring it up, there would have been silence from me. Again, I would advise you to heed your own words. Are you so self centered to expect/ demand the last word when the evidence provided says “no”.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I looked up to the top of this topic, and could not find anything mentioned of “Bound”, “Binding”, or “bondage of the will”. This is your nickel. You have no one to blame but yourself. P&M.

          • entech says:

            Think and read past your own anger that you are not accepted as the authority you consider yourself to be. Stop stampng your little feet it is distracting you.

            Already said I reject it all.
            Said I would ignore it if allowed: do you represent all believers?

            Conflating what? I am denying all, separately and individually.

            In bringing it up I was apologising to Henry for my misunderstanding of his position, if you don’t like it keep out of it!

            Fascinating site you recommended earlier, especially the bit about reading to the bottom, the bottom recommended another piece written by a well known holocaust denier. Actually I had seen it before, that and similar , the protocols of the elders and so on. All of which shows that anti-Semiticism is as old as Christianity itself. It shows that in spite of your words you actually believe “The Jews and their Lies”, perhaps we could go and write about Wanna and his lies.

            Now, read and try and comprehend, think about what I say not what you think I say and mean, OK:
            I do not believe anything that Luther wrote about religion.
            I cannot say that there is no creator, but I would put a high probability on there “Not” being one; on top of the doubt about a creator there is the belief (again I cannot know for certain) that the probability is much higher that even if there is a creator it is “Not” yours.
            Rabbiting on about salvation and the way there, choice, grace, holy spirits and whatever is so futile when you know I do not believe any of it.

            Of course, you do believe and take to heart the words of the Master, and clearly try to live up to them. And it is clear where you get your gentile language from.
            Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom … Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.
            Martin Luther, Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148

            @11:53 I brought up “Bound” deliberately as part of the reason I thought of Henry when I was talking about the site he posted as a church Jon might like. I was apologising and teasing because I don’t think Henry really knows too much about Luther, just liked the expression.
            To misquote the Bard, ” there are more things in these posts than your philosophy permits you to see.”

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Now defensive anger so convoluted even you can’t follow the thread in which you injected your conflation. I do pity you. The more words you provide, from your 1:36 forward, the more you work yourself up into a froth, and can’t even realize it. Mine was merely a response to your irresponsibility. It is my understanding De Sade was an atheist/humanist in the extreme, who wrote much. I then must assume you agree with everything he wrote and said, if you apply the same standards to others. You can’t pick and choose.

          • entech says:

            OK, …

          • Henry says:

            entech: “Conflating what?”

            Not only that, but entech’s significant digression from the topic of Jon’s want for an economical church such as the one suggested would offer him.

          • entech says:

            Thanks Henry for the gracious acceptance of an honest apology.

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