A church in my neighborhood supports Atheism...
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18-11-2013, 08:39 AM
A church in my neighborhood supports Atheism...
Does anyone have any information or personal experience with Unitarian Universalist churches?

There's one in my area, and I noticed it had the gay pride flag on its sign so I was always curious about what the hell it was. I recently looked it up and found this on wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_U...sm#Beliefs

I only skimmed the article, but apparently they support people finding their own beliefs and even atheist members.

For the record I am an atheist by way of logic and reason, and I ask only because I've never heard of such a place before, and it seems a bit odd.
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18-11-2013, 08:54 AM
RE: A church in my neighborhood supports Atheism...
(18-11-2013 08:39 AM)TheInsignificantAtheist Wrote:  Does anyone have any information or personal experience with Unitarian Universalist churches?

There's one in my area, and I noticed it had the gay pride flag on its sign so I was always curious about what the hell it was. I recently looked it up and found this on wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_U...sm#Beliefs

I only skimmed the article, but apparently they support people finding their own beliefs and even atheist members.

For the record I am an atheist by way of logic and reason, and I ask only because I've never heard of such a place before, and it seems a bit odd.

They've been around for some time, and they generally have a good reputation.

I think they are a nice alternative for atheists who miss the social aspects of church.

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18-11-2013, 09:41 AM
RE: A church in my neighborhood supports Atheism...
my understanding is that they are fine with atheists. However, I don't think that its is a forum for debate.
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18-11-2013, 11:45 AM (This post was last modified: 18-11-2013 11:49 AM by Reltzik.)
RE: A church in my neighborhood supports Atheism...
(18-11-2013 08:39 AM)TheInsignificantAtheist Wrote:  Does anyone have any information or personal experience with Unitarian Universalist churches?

There's one in my area, and I noticed it had the gay pride flag on its sign so I was always curious about what the hell it was. I recently looked it up and found this on wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_U...sm#Beliefs

I only skimmed the article, but apparently they support people finding their own beliefs and even atheist members.

For the record I am an atheist by way of logic and reason, and I ask only because I've never heard of such a place before, and it seems a bit odd.

I count myself as a Unitarian-Universalist, and I'd recommend them as a viable option if you're looking for a community, a support network, or anything else that conventional religion normally provides. They (we) are involved in social work and lean liberal in their causes, so if you're socially conservative they might not be a good fit for you. UUism is also popular with couples of mixed faith. They are explicitly, and strongly, in support of the separation of church and state and in favor of gay rights (and other human rights).

The key to understanding UUism is individual freedom of conscience. The congregational community, and larger Association, does not have the right to dictate what's true or false to the individual. If someone ends up believing in the Christian God through a literal reading of the Bible, great! Freedom of conscience! If someone else ends up believing it's a load of hooey through logic and reason, great! Freedom of conscience! Buddhism, Wicca, Shinto, Helenism? Freedom of Conscience! (There was a survey from about ten years ago, and IIRC various flavors of atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, etc made up the largest demographic, around 30-35%, with Christians being about 25%.) Almost everything else revolves around this principle.... how to provide a community to foster that sort of exploration and self-determination/realization, how to get a wildly disparate set of beliefs (and nonbeliefs) peacefully together under one roof, how to unite as a positive force in the community out of this seemingly fractured base, etc. Sermons are usually about social issues but sometimes about religious topics... often drawn from any religion in the world. But even in these cases, it's more of a buffet table than a prescription. Look at what's being put before you, take what you want, leave what you don't. Because of this exposure to a wide variety of religions, UUs tend to be both knowledgeable of other religions (and atheistic stances) and radically accepting. Do not expect to encounter any "atheists hate God and have no morality" crap from them.

This cuts both ways. Evangelizing Christianity to fellow congregationalists is bad form, but so is "evangelizing" atheism. Explaining what you believe or don't is welcomed and invited, as are questions, but high-pressure conversion or deconversion is not, and disparaging the beliefs of others is frowned upon. (EDIT: If you're looking for that sort of debate, though, it wouldn't be that hard to post something saying, "hey, looking for hardcore arguers to debate different religious views with", and get a group of five or so UUs together as a regular thing.)

Because I don't want to leave you with an impression that it's flawless system, I'll list two things I dislike about it. First, the hymnals contain a lot of religious references in their songs. I've come to take it as the buffet-table approach, they're not forcing it on you, but they're still skewed strongly towards the Judeo-Christian tradition. There's been effort to insert more atheistic hymns as well, but they feel tacked-on, but that might just be my personal take on it. Second, there's been a long and somewhat comical tap-dance around the word God in the sermons. Do you avoid it and so exclude the theists, do you try to establish it as a wildly-inclusive word other than its traditional meaning to try to include everyone, or do you list a few thousand possible alternatives in every sentence where you would normally include the word God? A pause for a moment of silence is common in sermons. This moment is usually brief, because there's only so much time to be allotted, and of necessity most of it goes to the introduction of the moment of silence. "Now, bow your heads and let us be silent for a moment. As you wish, you may take this moment for prayer, or contemplation, or meditation, or reflection, or..." Over the past decade or so, there's been a push to return to "reclaim the language of reverence" from up above... that is, the nation-wide Association has been encouraging and urging (though not forcing) ministers to include more traditionally religious terminology, so as to be more welcoming to people coming from traditional churches. I understand the logic, but I find it a bit alienating, and I think it's trying to force UUism into a certain mold rather than letting it be organically what it already is, and is moving us (slightly) away from a rational grounding in an effort to be more appealing to those who don't embrace a rational grounding.

But all in all, I'd say it's a good fit for someone who wants to get most of the social and community benefits of church membership, along with exposure to a wide variety of faiths, without all the dogma being rammed down your throat.
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18-11-2013, 12:20 PM
RE: A church in my neighborhood supports Atheism...
About all I know about this church is that it's really easy to become ordained online through them to be able to give marriages. I know a couple of people who did so either to preside over a friend's wedding or even just for the lulz.

Thanks for the explanation, Reltzik.
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