Discussion by: Wolfham
I am very concerned about some articles I have been reading recently regarding Atheist Churches. There seems to be a movement in the UK to unite atheists and free thinkers alike in order to rid our political system of Religious bias and/or special treatment for the religious. This is a noble cause for many and something I whole heartedly agree with.
However.. now some Atheists are trying to unite their like minded companions once a week, meeting on a Sunday (of all days) and calling them churches. I cannot express how angry and concerned this has made me. I have been an atheist from the age of 12 and even then I knew that to be an atheist was to simply not believe in God. For Atheists to unite and meet once a week in a building causes several problems. Firstly it depicts Atheists as having a political/religious agenda, it institutionalises Atheism as if it has a set of core beliefs or has a doctrine to follow, and thirdly puts atheists on par with the religious. This is not acceptable.
As Atheism is only the lack of belief in the existence of any God or Gods, as such it has no doctrine, no core beliefs except that one, and no political agenda. So why meet once a week about it under the label of Atheism? that would be an interesting weekly Sunday meeting wouldn't it? "Welcome everyone, first on the agenda.. we all agree that we don't believe in any God or Gods yes?.. brilliant.. meeting closed.. see you next week!"
My point is atheism being the lack of belief in God will then include people of all races, genders, sexuality, political view points, nationalities etc etc and therefore there can be no clear cut agenda for an Atheist movement apart from that of Atheists being treated equally in society. But do we really need a church for that? (just writing those words sickens me) Institutionalising a group of people with one belief in common can only lead to manipulation and corruption. Do you really think Atheist are immune to being mislead or manipulated by clever people? of course not.. I know some atheists who believe in holistic medicine.. and that is just one example. The only thing that will come out of this will be a political and or religious/anti-religoius agenda that will be directed by individuals and followed by many exactly like a religion. The whole thing that sets us apart from religious institutions is our ability to think for ourselves and differentiate ourselves, decide for ourselves and not have to follow one core doctrine.
Now.. no doubt the people setting this up have the best intentions in mind. But how long until they lose control and head down the same path as Islam? where you have no core body monitoring what its organisation is saying? it only takes one Atheist nut job to start calling people to beat up or even kill the religious, and the only reason that hasn't happened is because Atheism has not been institutionalised. If an atheist goes mad and kills a bunch of people, was it because he was insane? abused as a child? segregated from society? probably.. not many people jump to atheism as a cause immediately (apart from the religious fundamentals who play point scoring all the time) However.. now take that scenario but the man has been attending an Atheist church for a year. Who gets the blame? ALL ATHEISTS. Regardless as to whether there are any teachings or agendas in these churches, my point is that there will be.. there has to be, otherwise no one will achieve anything at these meetings.
I call on Richard Dawkins and his foundation to openly say that these churches are not necessary under the guise of Atheism, and should people want to set up community meetings where everyone is just nice to eachother and are just trying to improve their community or the world, without the impact of religion, that they in due course rename them to Secular churches, or Humanist Churches. The secular community and Humanist community does have an Agenda, but Atheists do not. All it is to be an Atheist is to reject the notion of a God(s). There should be no meetings, gatherings, or orgnisation of people with this lack of belief as it will be used to corrupt and manipulate like any large gathering of people.
Do people agree? or are Atheist in general ok with having churches named in their non-belief for unelected people to say/do whatever they want within them? I think this is a slippery slope and quite frankly I think it undermines a large group of peoples great work to bring Atheism into credibility and respect.. people like Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris etc etc. Do you think Hitchens would have approved of an Atheist church?.. would love to see peoples opinions.
For anyone who wants to read the link: http://news.discovery.com/human/life/atheist-church-set-to-go-global-130308.htm