Jun 8, 2009

A Christian Atheist: Why we need Atheist Church

As I was browsing news articles on the Internet I came across the following headline Finding a community as an atheist in churchThis, of course, grabbed my attention.  I wondered what type of church and maybe if more people were trying to start churches like the North Texas Church of Freethought.  Needless to say, I was surprised to read that an atheist UT professor had decided to start attending a Christian church.

While I understand the need for community, I wonder why Jensen, that's his name, didn't look into the many atheist/free-thought groups that are operating quite strongly in many parts of Texas; including Austin where UT is located.  The article does not touch on if he tried atheist or free-thought communities prior to joining the Christian church; but does offer the following quote from Jensen:

I joined a Christian church to be part of that hope for the future, to struggle to make religion a force that can help usher into existence a world in which we can imagine living in peace with each other and in sustainable relation to the non-human world. Such a task requires a fearlessness and intelligence beyond what we have mustered to date, but it also requires a faith in our ability to achieve it.

That's why I am a Christian.

An atheist-Christian?  I can't help but find this odd at best and foolish at worst.  References to "deeper meaning" in the reference article lead me to think that Jensen was searching for a sort of atheist spirituality that simply doesn't exist and found that personal need filled by liberal Christianity.  But I don't want to discuss what it means to be a Christian here or if Jensen made a good decision.

What I do want to comment on is that this demonstrates a need to form stronger communities as free-thinkers so that we do not miss out on the social network and support provided by a religious church.  However, at the same time, when discussing attending free-thought groups with fellow non-believers many of them seem unsure about attending.  Many of these people are the same people who complain about not having anyone to talk to that isn't religious.  So, I'll end this blog by asking a few questions of my fellow non-believers.

What do you think about Jensen's calling himself a Christian while he is an atheist?  Is there something about spirituality that fills a need secular communities cannot fill?  Do you personally feel the need for community?  If so, how do you fill that need?


  1. I definitely feel a strong desire for community. I've considered joining the Unitarian Universalists, because they don't preach any doctrine and are open to all beliefs and non-beliefs.

  2. I feel a great desire for the sort of passionate ethically/spiritually driven community that monotheism can engender in people. I would just prefer it to dispense with the fairy tales and the irrational faith in self-serving authority. But I fear maybe these things are necessary to bring a community together with the passion and mutual support and endeavour that I crave to be part of?

  3. I kinda see where Bob is coming from in this; it's different strokes for different folks. I've been exploring this a teensy bit on http://churchofjesuschristatheist.blogspot.com - would appreciate any comments or suggestions. And I do note the concern that this can seem like pandering to a pile of nonsense - in some senses, yes it is!