I admit that I find the idea of an atheist church to be funny. When I was a kid, I hated my parents dragging me to church every Sunday. And when I was a Christian adult, I went because that’s what Christians did.
However, the idea of going to church now – even an atheist one – seems odd and out of place, but then these churches aren’t for me because I’m blessed to be anti-social. And much in the way I dreaded going to church every Sunday when I was a kid, I now dread interacting with other members of the human species.
I’ve come to find out this is one of the many things that makes me abnormal.
For the rest of humanity, though, being social with other members of the species is integral to mental wellbeing and social standing. Back in the day, towns were often built around the church. The church was the focal point of social life. If you weren’t working on the farm, you were participating in some church activity. Church life is integral to many communities that I suspect that a lot of people attend services and events more for the social aspect than for the act of “worship.”
Losing your faith can have a severe impact on your social life, especially if you before relied on church for social interactions. You might find that your church friends no longer want anything to do with you, and you might find yourself isolated. And believe it or not, some who lose faith miss the rituals associated with church services.
An article coming out of Salt Lake City talks about a church for non-believers dubbed the Sunday Assembly, which offers nonbelievers a “churchlike service that offers music, readings and community for those who don’t belong to the state’s dominant religion, Mormonism or other faith groups.” The church’s motto is: Live better, help often, wonder more.
I’m pretty cynical and dislike most things, which I’ve come to learn is another one of the many things that makes me abnormal. But I think it’s important for atheists, secularists and “nones” to get together and socialize. If you’re in an area with few unbelievers, it’s easy to get lonely and isolated. There are online communities, but those are increasingly becoming more toxic and fractured. I suspect that much of that has to do with people not interacting face-to-face.
While I have no plans to attend any service with events like “[a] band playing the 1980s hit song “Walking on Sunshine” while attendees sang along and batted beach balls around the room,” because that sounds dreadful.
However, I believe It’s important that non-believers who want that church experience have a place where they can go to socialize, share baby recipes, and figure out how best to destroy Christmas once and for all.
On second thought, if plotting to get rid of Christmas is involved, I might be on board.
Tis the season when a lot of people get uptight over those who say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.
Their thinking (I think) is that those who say Happy Holidays are doing so because they’re evil non-believers who hate Christmas, Jesus and/or Christians.
We hear every year that there’s a war on Christmas. And it’s common to hear that it’s the atheists who are perpetrating said war.
Even Donald Trump said at a rally, that we can start saying Merry Christmas again, to much applause.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s always been safe for people to say Merry Christmas. I hear it every year and never once have I chided anyone for saying it, much in the same way I don’t get my undies in a bunch when someone says god bless you after a sneeze.
Actually, that one does bother me because I think it’s wrong to single out that sole bodily function for comment. I mean, no one bothers to acknowledge my coughs, my burps or my farts, which, if we’re being honest, could use a blessing especially after I’ve eaten cheese.
But I digress.
It’s true that Christianity has dominated the public square for a long, long time. It’s only recently that people started to wake up to the fact that America is a diverse country with many beliefs and traditions. Many people who who hold agnostic or of other beliefs celebrate Christmas. One could argue that Christmas is a Christian holiday, and that if you’re not Christian, then don’t celebrate it. One could also argue that if you’re not Jewish or Muslim, then you don’t have to participate in their holidays either.
The problem with that, as I see it, is that Christmas is – for better or worse – embedded in American culture. Just turn on the TV anytime after Thanksgiving and you’ll see commercial after commercial offering Christmas sales. And speaking of TV, how many Christmas specials run between Thanksgiving and December 25th? I mean, we literally have a channel that runs a movie called A Christmas Story for a full, god-damned 24-hours. And can you imagine the kind of shit a kid who doesn’t believe in Santa gets at school?
And because it’s so commercialized, companies want to maximize the number of people celebrating the holiday because it means more dollars into their coffers. This is why you’ll see stores saying Happy Holidays, and advertising Holiday Specials rather than Christmas specials.
It’s really not about those evil atheists hating on Jesus. It’s totally about the companies trying to get as many people shopping in their stores as they can.
True, there are plenty of secular organizations who complain when a nativity scene is on public property. Some, such as the Satanic Temple, call for an inclusive approach. If you get your nativity scene, then they get their satanic display. That seems fair. That might be what some Christians see as the war on Christmas, but frankly, the time for keeping religious displays on private property and church property is long overdue.
Whether the Christians like it or not, Christmas is everyone’s holiday now, and that’s not the fault of the atheists. That’s the fault of the corporations and the consumer culture.
I can’t speak for all atheists, but I don’t want to destroy Christmas. I’m not on a crusade to ban Santa, nativity scenes, yule logs or any of the trappings. And I’m not opposed to anyone saying Merry Christmas.
So, this Christmas season, say whatever the hell you want. And next time someone tells you that it’s the atheists who are waging a war on Christmas, you can tell them that, no, it’s the corporations – and they won that war a long time ago.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but religion is not a victimless crime.
Every year thousands of people die as a result of religious practices and beliefs; a lot of them children. It’s such an epidemic that I think it’s time for religion to come with warning labels.
I’m not kidding.
We should regulate religion like cigarettes or alcohol. Don’t feed it to children, and slap a warning label across every book of “Holy Scripture” that reads: Warning! This can damage your mental and/or physical health, and it can cause you to harm others.
Other warnings can include:
This religion may cause depression, anxiety, a sense of fear, and feelings of self righteousness and superiority.
It may cause delusions.
It may block those things in your brain that help you understand facts and data.
It may cause false hope.
It may stop you from getting that thing checked out by a doctor.
Okay, maybe you think that warning labels are a bit excessive. Well, then, how about we try recommendation labels?
It’s recommended that you take this religion with a bucket of salt.
It’s recommended that you demand proof for every claim made by this religion before believing. (It’s recommended that you seek that proof from someone other than your priest, pastor, rabbi or imam.)
It’s recommended that you view religion as a collection of myths and fables written by people with extremely limited understanding of the world and how it worked.
It’s recommended to keep it out of the reach of children.
It’s recommended that you have that thing checked out by a doctor.
And lastly, and most importantly, it’s recommended that if you view Jesus as your co-pilot, you don’t let him take the wheel.