Faith walk | Why an atheist goes to church

This is an article posted in the KC Star written by my friend (and fellow host of The Agnostic Salvation hour) Cole Morgan.

Since the link failed to "link" here's the article:

“Why do you go?” Friends ask me this whenever I mention that I enjoy going to Bible studies. I suppose that’s because they know I am an atheist.

About a year ago, some buddies and I started going to different churches together. The initial surprise on our fellow churchgoers’ faces when they learned we were nonbelievers was priceless. Some of them asked, “Why are you here?”

First of all, because it’s fun. I like to learn, and attending a new church is always a rewarding experience. I like to hear how each denomination interprets the Bible and why people think the way they do. So often we’ll hear someone explain why members of other denominations are not real Christians.

For the past four weeks, a group of us has been attending a 10-week “Alpha Course” at a church. The purpose of this class, the facilitator told us, is to provide a place where people can feel relaxed about talking about their beliefs. We start off with dinner, then a DVD discussing Jesus and finally we go to our small groups. The people are friendly and, unlike at other churches, we don’t keep getting asked why exactly we’re there.

When I tell people there how I feel about religion, most don’t take great offense. I like that. It hasn’t always been that way at Bible studies I’ve attended. Still, I feel a disconnect with my new friends in the Alpha Course. They tell me to “open the door” (the door being my heart), and if I do, “Jesus will come in.” What does this mean? I can’t even begin to understand this idea of “letting Jesus into my heart.”

As a natural-born skeptic, I know that the natural world is all we need and all we have. I find the natural world exciting — there’s so much to learn. I stay active promoting science whenever possible. I feel we only have this life, so I encourage people to be active and to support research that will help us live longer and healthier.

I am a member and help organize several nonreligious meet-up groups in the Kansas City area. We have movie nights, science nights, topic nights, breakfasts and picnics to keep us busy. We also keep each other informed with voting issues and other topics we feel are unfair in our society, like women’s rights and gay rights. We invite Christians many times to our groups, but few ever accept and fewer show.

I would like it if we could learn to be more rational and laugh at our differences more often. That’s another reason why I go to church. It’s nice to be able to show Christians that we don’t have horns and tails. Atheists live normal lives just as Christians do. We just believe in one fewer god.

Cole Morgan is one of 13 contributors to the Faith Walk column. Reach him at

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