"Atheist Church" Poll is Counter Productive and Ill advised

I was sort of surprised when I signed in a few minutes ago that there was a poll asking about whether one would approve of / attend an atheist "church". Frankly , and with all due respect for the poll's author... I was disgusted for a number of reasons.

First, the term "church" is antithetical to atheism. A church is a place of worship, for theists. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/church

Secondly, with all the mentally impaired theists calling atheism a "religion" and atheists working to counter their idiocy by telling them that atheism is a religion "like balness is a hair color, like NOT collecting stamps is a hobby" ... here we go talking about an "atheist church", giving them ammunition to renew their claim of atheism = religion.

Thirdly, exactly what do all of us have in common to justify a close knit social structure akin to a theist church? Do we all share a "belief system" in common? A common "world view"? I doubt it. You don't know mine, and I don't know yours, and nothing in being atheist defines one.

Do we feel the need for some "spiritual support" (oy!) by a group of like minded "non-believers"? I'd proffer that we all share in common only one thing...the ONLY thing inferred by "atheism": No belief in God/gods. period. Not much there around which to form a close knit "church" like structure.

Oh yes, we likely have some basic axiomatic principles we all support, like respect for science, the need for evidence to accept a "fact". Most of us accept Evolutionary theory as genuine. Some large percentage of us support the equality for women, and womens right to control their reporductive processes.

But there are already science clubs. There are already womens rights organizations. There are abortion rights orgs. etc. The concept of a Church (argghhh) which seeks to somehow service MY need or ANYONES need driven by one thing and one thing only: "No belief in God/gods" is not only unnecessary, but I find it both irrational and counterproductive to how Freethinkers are perceived.

That's not to say I object to clubs, reading groups, discussion forums, even activist organizations to ensure atheist rights of non-belief and separation of church and state are kept sacrosanct. Hell, I belong to a number of those and they serve a clear and defined purpose. But a formalized "church" is down right misguided. The very concept sets us back 50 years. The poll is misguded and ill advised.

That's my opinion. I could be wrong.
But I doubt it.

Yours in Reason and Reality,

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And yet, Catana, here you are on an atheist social community. Many of us are members of atheist groups in the 'real world' and they absolutely work as small communities. How can you judge what you have in common with someone from a short profile on the internet? You have to get to 'know' people before you can make decisions like that. I have found that my atheists friends have many things in common beyond a lack of belief in deities. They are highly intelligent, well educated (if not formally, then self-educated), they are interested in reading and acquiring knowledge, they are actively concerned about civil liberties and human rights, they are politically aware and informed, and they tend to be liberal in their politics. This makes for great conversations and a real feeling of camaraderie.

In no community is everyone going to have all of the same beliefs or characteristics, and of course, we don't demand it. But, just because some members may differ from the 'norm' that doesn't mean they can't be included in the community. Another feature of the atheists I know is that they are respectful of different opinions, as long as those opinions are well-reasoned and evidence based.

Catana, you have an opinion about 'atheist communities', and yet I wonder on what evidence you base that opinion. Have you ever been to an atheist meetup group or an atheist convention? Have you made an effort to get to know the people on this site beyond their profiles?

I can assure you that you can form atheist communities and they work every bit as well as any other kind of community - perhaps better.
Catana wrote: I really don't understand why anyone would think that nonbelief is something around which you can form a social community.

Catana wrote: Have I ever been to an atheist meetup or a convention? No.

Thank you, Catana, you have illustrated my point precisely.
"Wow, Kristy. Is your function here to act as an attack dog, or possibly an arbiter of what opinions we can express"

Nice flair for the bleedin' obvious you have there. American? :o)
Heheh... Tarquin...You're the reason Americans love Aussies.
Yours in reality,

(well... you and Nicole Kidman :)
Agreed, most religious people also have little else tying them together aside from faith. But churches are little communities inside larger communities of local people that share lots in common. For instance, they're in the same school district with sons/daughters in school. Those sons/daughters also have clubs/sports teams together. They go to and own area restaurants and other businesses. Being in the same area usually means they share the same political and social stances. So, church functions as a town meeting with another name, and if you don't go, you'll feel guilty for letting god down.

That said, i hate the idea of any atheist group/place of non-worship being called a church, but I'm totally ok with the idea of atheists forming groups to get together. Using 'church' sends the wrong message that atheists are actually just another religion (much like a cult) since it doesn't have respect/recognition from the big faiths. Atheism does not share anything with religion, and the name 'church' implies it does.


Yours in reason,
There is actually a First Church of Atheism and this poll seeks opinions about that concept.

You will note that 31.5% or respondents said, "Hell no!" and a further 22.8% said that the concept was "Not for me" - that's 54.3 with a strong to moderate feeling against idea. You should also note that only .3% of respondents actually attend any such institution. I think this makes it very clear, that, generally, our membership shares your view about atheist churches. What ever could you find objectionable about a poll which supports your view?

It is completely rational that, if a new concept appears on the atheist landscape, this site should canvass opinion about it. We do not just shut our eyes, stick our fingers in our ears and sing "La la la la la" when confronted with a reality that makes us feel uncomfortable. Quite rightly, we wonder whether others feel the same way, and a poll is an appropriate (although obviously not scientifically rigorous) method of measuring the response.

Atheist community is new. Very little is known about 'what atheists think'. Some will argue that we have nothing in common other than a disbelief in deities. Others believe there tend to be other similarities. It is entirely reasonable that we run polls to determine what our membership thinks about various issues - particularly as our Executive Director, Richard, goes to national non-theist gatherings representing that membership.

You are very welcome on this site, but I think you have jumped to an unreasonable and irrational conclusion on this matter. Sometimes, when you join a new site, it's a good idea to take a little time to get to know it, and its members, before leaping in to make criticisms.

I never for a moment felt i wasn't welcome here. I'm sorry you feel the need to reassure me that I am.

And had I realized that criticism without insult is not invited or tolerated, or was taken as offense I would not have joined, much less posted this discussion.

The members here are, I had assumed atheists. That should be all I have to know about a site for atheists. Having to take the pulse of it's individual members/mgrs. sensitivities, proclivities, and variations of thought and perpsctive has never been a prerequisit for posting a comment that clearly states my OPINION in any oither atheist group I've ever seen.

Of course..you run all the polls you like. Its your perogative. But, if you do not understand why the concept of "Church" is unequivocally theist, as defined in the dictionary; and how by connecting "atheist" and "Church" is playing into the hands of theists...ones that are just visting and observing here... then perhaps pride of authorship of the poll is more important to you than the message it sends to them. If thats is the case I understand your ire.

But thats fine. I take it you're an owner here. What you post and how it is used by observers of the theist community is within your pervue. That I oppose it and explained in rather clear detail why it is not in the best interest of the freethinker community should be accepted as a variance of opinion...nothing more. If and when you perceive my participation here to noncontributory, or to be less than in the best interest of the group, invite me to leave. I'll barely leave a hoof print

Yours in Reason and Reality,
I am not the author of the poll, neither am I an 'owner' here. There was no suggestion that your criticism was not to be 'tolerated' only that, from a rational viewpoint, it was ill-advised and based on insufficient evidence.

It is not AN which has coupled 'atheist' and 'church' - the poll merely seeks an opinion on this coupling.

There is no 'ire' in my post either. I disagreed with you, that's all.

I did not disagree with your view about associating the words atheism and church. I disagreed with your wrong conclusion that running a poll on this issue suggests any kind of endorsement of it on the part of AN.

We welcome all atheists here. My point was simply that joining up and immediately leaping in to criticize is, quite frankly, rude. Would you visit someone's home for the first time and, as you stepped in the front door, say, "Hmmm, don't like the paintwork in this hall, much!"

We welcome diverse opinions and debate here - but we prefer it if those expressing those views at least take a moment to familiarise themselves with the site and its members. To continue the analogy - it's polite to wait at least until the main course before you start disagreeing with the hosts.
Could the poll had been phrased better? Maybe.

Did its "concept set us back 50 years"? Absolutely not. The reason and reality snowball is rolling down the mountain now picking up some steam. A little harmless poll isn't going to slow it down.

Kristy is right about the results reinforcing atheists' desire not have such a "church". However, "mentally impaired theists" have already formed their opinion of atheists long before they glimpse some poll on a website.
indeed the "mentally imparied theists" have.
But our role, as activists, if we care to be activists, is not reinforce their idiocy and irrational perspective of what atheism is. They can do that without our help.


Why care? They're going to do it anyway. The poll could have never existed and a whack-nut theist visiting the site would see "A Community of Nontheist" with a big green "Donate Online" button right there. Whether the word "church" is buried in some small font halfway down the page, their intolerant, bigoted minds are going see it as a church anyway.


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