I get a lot of atheists asking me for advice when it comes to attending church events for family functions or for organizations they are a part of. I am honestly shocked that these questions come from atheists, to be honest. It’s as though they look at a church and see some sort of power. I just can’t understand it. As an atheist, it should be nothing more than another structure, like a community centre or a post office.
Yesterday, it finally came to a head when I read this post on Reddit:
So this sunday is remembrance sunday and i am quite happily doing a march with cadets to honor the fallen. however the problem arises when i have to go into church at the end for 2 whole fucking hours. now i have all ready asked if i can do the march without going into church the answer was no i asked if i coud just not do the march the answer was if you dont do it you get kicked out. so what the fuck should i do?
Granted, OP sounds like he’s pretty young, but after receiving so many similar questions myself, I just have to shake my head. What the fuck are you all on about? Really?
A church is a structure. It’s built by mortal, human hands with completely non-magical and non-divine materials such as wood, brick, mortar, drywall and cement. These are all materials that are either harvested from the natural world, or made by, once again, NOT-fucking-wizards. No magic potion has been mixed in to the cement. No spells have been cast on the holy shitter. It is the exact equivalent of walking into a school or a barn or a fucking bar.
Churches get their significance from human belief. You must then understand, that by viewing it as a structure that you refuse to enter, you play into that belief. Something within you, must be saying, nope, there is something different about this building. You are giving it power, doing the cult’s work for them. It’s absurd.
If what your true issue is, is boredom and not wanting to sit through a service filled with other people talking about myths you reject, well, then you have to weigh the importance of the event. If it’s just something your friend casually asked you to attend in hopes of converting you, by all means, shut that shit down. However, if it’s for the wedding of someone you love and cherish, or the christmas concert of a child you adore or an event for an organization that you value being part of, then what will sitting through a service ultimately do to you? What is it that will happen that outweighs the love of a family member, a child or the enjoyment one gets from membership in a great organization? Can someone please, please explain this to me, because I am at a loss. I really don’t want to think it’s just simple inconvenience… I really don’t want to believe you’re that selfish.
If, in the case of the above Reddit post, you’re a member of an organization and it’s important enough for you to want to change the church integration into this organization, you should fight it properly. One dude boycotting the church event and getting kicked out, is not going to do shit. However, if that one dude follows the rules, sits through church sessions, all the while talking to others who might feel the same way about them as he and organizing those people, you then have the beginnings of a movement to remove church-related events from that institution. Get a petition together. Bring it up at meetings. Write to the president. One thing is for sure though: getting yourself kicked out is going to make this one helluva lot more difficult. Pull up your fucking big boy pants, sit through something that makes you yawn a few times, and work your ass off to get it eliminated from future programs. Change happens if we fucking instigate it.
Of course, the church as an organization is awful. Terrible things happen in its name. But the organization does not equal a building, and sitting through a wedding ceremony in said building does not, in any way, indicate that you support the religion itself. In fact, quite the contrary. By being an atheist and having no problem setting foot inside of a church, you’re making a very clear statement: there is no power here.
Some people may have bad memories associated with one specific church, or several. Others may know of someone else who was harmed by the people conducting the services within the venue. These are all things that are valid reasons not to go to your best friends wedding because it’s being held at the specific church. Refusal, however, to set foot in a church simply because you are an atheist and that is a church, makes me wonder… are you really that petty, or do you simply still see the building as a place that has some sort of power?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing a piece of the puzzle. All I know, is that I am an atheist and as such, a church has no special significance to me over any other building. Some are beautiful, some are ugly, none, not one, are magic, divine or hold the power to keep me out.
What do you think? Do you refuse to attend church events or are you able to put your differences aside for people and organizations that are important to you?