Does the term Factsheet Five mean anything to you? How about a zine? Basically a zine is what you did if you wanted to blog before the Internet got really going. There were fanzines, which should be self-explanatory, perzines (personal), or you could write for a type of zine called a many-to-many, in which several people wrote a piece about something, mailed it to a central location, where it was copied and put together into a magazine kind of format, with each contributor/reader being mailed a copy. You got to read everyone else's piece and yours was included too. Next issue, someone might have questions/comments on your last piece, etc. It was through one of those, if I recall correctly, called the Junto (named after Ben Franklin's group), that I met a feller going by the name of Timotheus.
I had a (sometimes hot) debate going with him for a while there, cuz he had this bizarre notion of starting a group of freethinkers and calling it a church! I was downright livid! What a maroon, I thought, and probably told him so. I mean really! I was still fairly new to this "freethought" thing and the very notion of associating a word like CHURCH with anything freethought was sacrilegious! It didn't help that I kept hearing from some Christians that freethought was just another religion (AArrrgh!), probably a Satanic one at that, and now he's playing into their hands! We argued back and forth for a while in those pages. And I mean a WHILE too, because you had to write your piece, send it in, wait for the mail to get it back, then you STILL had to wait till NEXT issue to get his response to it.
I did my research to prove him wrong. This was when, in order to do research, you had to have things called reference books, and look stuff up in them. I wouldda killed to have access then to a clickable link, but that seemed about as realistic as the transporter on the Enterprise at the time. I said everybody knows damn well what a church is, they're on virtually every corner, and they sure don't welcome "freethinkers" unless they think they might convert them. He, being more educated than I, said that the Greek ekklesia, translated as "church" refers, not to a building, but a congregation, group or assembly of people; furthermore, even if one calls freethought a religion, it's not incorrect because the origin of the word is ligare, which means to bind together or connect. Therefore you can say that a religion is just a group or congregation of people, connected or "bound together" by a shared worldview. Well, shit! How'd he do that, how can he be right and wrong at the same time? Maybe he IS Satanic!
Eventually I got to know him a little better and even met with him and a friend of his, named Mike Sullivan. Turned out "Timotheus" was one Dr. Timothy Gorski, MD of Texas. I didn't like the idea, still smells fishy to me somehow... maybe akin to a "flying" squirrel, but amazingly enough, them folk didn't listen to me. Them two and their wives went right on to found something they called (gulp!) the North Texas Church of Freethought. Pastor Tim seems to really want everything about a church except the God/supernatural parts, and apparently that's exactly what NTCOF is now. A successful church, with reasonably good relations with other churches... no proselytizing, no atheist activism (after all, not all freethinkers are atheist), no antagonizing the Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc.
Wasn't as wacky as Atheists for Jesus, which I discovered later and.... Holy Crap! Even Richard Dawkins is one! Damn them clickable links! I just discovered this. It's like a finding out your Ayatollah did a spread in Playgirl... or Playboy!!!! Gimme the Pepto... OMG... roll over Beethoven .... uh... we're out of time for now. What's that ringing noise...? Hope to be back soon.