Anyone here ever run into a Unitarian Universalist (UU) church before? It's a nondogmatic nondoctrinal church that is atheist friendly. It does not push any notion of gods or damnation. It simply put does not tell it's members, or anyone else, what to believe. Instead its services focus on using love, compassion, and reason to put issues before it's members. It welcomes all although those looking for dogma doctrine and hellfire will probably not find anything to their liking.
It's a place for people more interested in community than condemnation. Each UU Church tends to have its own flavor. My church for example trends towards atheist/humanist. The minister as well as most members are various stripes of atheists.
So the question is does the words church, religion, or sermon carry too much stigma for you or is this sort of thing interesting to some, or is it just useless nonsense?
If you absolutely, positively have to go to a church on a sunday morning........... for me it would feel weird. I tend to associate churches with religion.
When I hear of 'atheist churches' I can't help thinking of Mary Howitt's poem that starts.....
"Will you walk into my parlour?" said the spider to the fly.
I've attended UU congregations myself (was a member of one in Urbana, IL, for a couple of years when I lived in nearby Charleston) and I've found them to be as accepting as the community I'm currently a member of, the Ethical Society of St. Louis (which is part of the Ethical Culture/Ethical Humanist movement).
I can understand where you're coming from re: "church", though. I personally identify more with the Humanist/Atheist POV but having a UU church where there's no Ethical Society nearby certainly does fill a need, IMHO. I definitely think having community is very important.
The UU Church always struck me as "Christianity Lite."
The only UU Church I have ever been in (once, back when I was a Wiccan) was on the east side of Jacksonville, Fla.
If you can trust Wikipedia's article on Unitarian-Universalism, the church consists roughly of 20% Christians. They ostensibly welcome such people as atheists and Wiccans (through their pagan outreach programme CUUPS), but the point of getting you in the door is the same as any other church.
Unitarians from New England are descended from the Congregational Church (the Puritans). Unitarians from NE rejected the literal reading of the Bible and the "elect" who would get into heaven dogma of the Puritans. The remainder after the split became the United Church of Christ, a well-known all inclusive group.
Their services are primarily structured around Protestant church services.
Christian Universalists started way back in 1793 and taught a universal salvation by Christ.
They are much like an airy-fairy New Age religion in many respects, but still have a creed which is a "non-creed," their Seven Principles.
In 2004 they specifically went for proselytisation, asking for "elevator speeches" (pitches that could be made for the UU Church in the course of an elevator ride to "educate" others about the UU Church). The idea is no different than door-knocking Evangelicals: they are inserting their beliefs into your space.
The beliefs in spirituality, holding that no particular religion has a lock on truth (except them of course, as that statement is a direct challenge to the claim of most religions), and the seven principles identify the UU Church as not rational. They are no more rational than any other gnostic religious belief (they know and believe that other religions do not have a lock on truth). The idea of spirituality and the "connexion of life" is not rational.
The Seven Principles, while containing admirable goals, are still religious in nature and not secular:
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote
Today the UU church still holds to the idea of finding "truth" and "spirituality," thus they are no more rational than any other church, other than not being dogmatic by not having a particular creed.
Essentially they folded all together to form the present church.
There's a pretty good UU fellowship here in Greenville, SC. As you might expect in such a location, it tends toward a Christian-like flavor just by demographic, but at least it's a venue for local freethinkers who crave a church-ish structure. I'm an old hermit with no particular need for active social connections, and am so not a member, though Dear Li'l Sis (who leads the Rainbow Committee) and her son are. I do some pro-bono architectural work for them because I think that they're good people and deserve it. I'll occasionally go to their events, largely because they usually feature free beer & wine.
I was once asked to guest host one of their discussion groups (called covenant circles) and direct the topic. I chose superstition, and it was a good & lively conversation. We freely gave & took offense, and mostly agreed that we'd all learned something from one another. That's no small thing in a local culture very much imbued with strict biblical literalist dogma! Doing something similar in a Southern Baptist congregation probably wouldn't result in actual burning at the stake, but would undoubtedly bring social shunning. Those who have not grown up under the thumb of something like the KKK or Taliban might misunderestimate :) the gravity of being shunned by the Tribe, which is close to a social death sentence. Unis refuse to do that on general principal, and for that I respect them.
I don't like what seems to be the UU assumption of doctrinal relativism -- I think that some ideas are clearly more valid than others. Perhaps their take is that such assumptions are sort of an epistemological tax necessary for a functioning society. As I said, I'm a hermit who doesn't really get that point.
Hey, why don't you UU people join my church instead ?
I hav'ent got a church right now but I will make one up for you, if you show interest.
It should prove financially rewarding to be minister of my own church and I'm looking forward to the challenge.
I get the communal fellowship here, at Atheist Nexus.
I live so far out in the middle of nowhere that tumbleweeds have a fifteen mile run to hit anything other than a cow.
For in-person community, I have my village in Nebraska. For rough and tumble politics, I have the village board. For a break from Christianity's dead hand around my throat, I also have this place.
Pretty funny line about the tumbleweeds.
Being from Nebraska too, I can tell you that isn't that big of an exaggeration depending on where in the state you are.... I have driven on highways in the panhandle and not passed another car for 2 hours.
That, and the tumbleweeds are bigger than our new car. (We own a Smart.)
Getting to a town over 1,500 takes over an hour. With a strong tailwind. And there aren't that many highways here either.
I used to go for a few years before making a strong commitment to Atheism (I was still finding my path) and then I stopped going. The UU place I was going was mostly Humanist and help me find my path to Atheism. I evolved from it. (Faded away like Sentient did)