Atlanta Atheists in Church

I love this story.

It involves atheists meeting in a (former) church. Alcohol plays a role.

The Atlanta Freethought Society just purchased what used to be the Collins Springs Primitive Baptist Church.

(Tip: If you’re in charge of naming a church, don’t call it “Primitive”… you’re just asking us to make fun of you)

“We’re not taking over a church,” said longtime society leader Ed Buckner. “We bought a building that used to be a church.”

In fact, Buckner said, he imagines fondly gatherings at the church for weddings, funerals and covered-dish dinners in earlier days. He said he hopes the freethinkers also will pull in neighbors and friends for special events.

How did the atheist get control of the building?

Kroger (a grocery chain) wanted to set up shop across the street…

But county ordinances prohibited the sale of alcohol within 600 feet of a church. Collins Springs Primitive Baptist Church was too close.

So, the developer offered to buy the church property and the remaining members agreed.

“The building was in disrepair,” said [Elder Charles Westbrook, whose father was pastor of the church,] “and we didn’t have the money to keep it up.”

The Kroger was built — despite other attempts to avert it — and a beer and wine license was granted.

At least the Christians aren’t putting up a fight. (And, again, note the easy “primitive” joke the article’s author dangles in front of us…:)

Westbrook, the Primitive Baptist pastor, said atheists’ meetings might not be what he would have chosen for the historic building, but the church lives on.

“If they had wanted to turn it into a dance hall, it would be the same thing,” he said. “But that’s just a building. The church is the people. That’s just a place where the church could meet.”

It’s big news anytime a local freethought groups gets the funding to purchase their own building, so kudos to Ed Buckner and the Atlanta Freethought Society for making this happen.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Karen

    Very cool – it’s good to see a freethought group get some money and property behind it.

    The Primitive Baptists – wow. I stumbled across them a few years ago when I was doing some genealogical research and discovered one of my ancestors had been a Primitive Baptist circuit-riding preacher. I wrote to one of their societies because they had some historical information on him, and stepped right into a hornet’s nest of controversy when they started sending me tracts and letters, etc. The vitriol was quite amazing!

    These folks have been fighting for about 200 years with other Baptists over whether Christians should evangelize and send missionaries to other countries. The Primitives think the holy spirit is in charge of bringing the proper people to belief in Christ and Christians should not be meddling in that or devoting any money to the effort. This is the total opposite of what evangelicals believe!

  • http://www.skepticality.com/ Derek Colanduno

    We were SO happy to get this property. Our group has been looking for a good building to move to for about 2 years now. The current building is almost right next door to me and Swoopy, but it was way too small. With the number of big name speakers and great events, the small building was just far too small. Now when we get great speakers there will be enough room! :)

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    From the wikipedia article:

    The word “Primitive” is sometimes taken by outsiders to mean “backward,” but in context of this division among Baptists, it means “original.” These churches attempt to retain and/or restore primitive (or original) patterns of the church, such as family worship, a cappella singing, closed communion, and feet washing.

    We sometimes forget that words didn’t always mean what they mean to us today. Living languages are constantly in flux.

  • chancelikely

    You’re right, Mike, and it’s the same kind of comedy from watching an episode of the Flintstones and learning from the theme song that “we’ll have a gay old time”.

    A question I have, though, is: Is that a redefinition of the word ‘primitive’ by the Primitive Baptists, or is it a restoration of an older meaning?

  • http://bornagainblog.wordpress.com Justin McKean

    “We sometimes forget that words didn’t always mean what they mean to us today. Living languages are constantly in flux.”

    Yeah but, funny, right? I mean, come on. That’s part of the humor of language. Multiple meanings.

    “Who’s on first?”
    “Primitive Baptist! Though the friction from the knuckles dragging might become a factor in later innings…”

  • I like tea

    Hey, I live in Atlanta. I should stop by.

    We sometimes forget that words didn’t always mean what they mean to us today. Living languages are constantly in flux.

    You’ve always annoyed the shit out of me. Good to see that trend continue.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    A question I have, though, is: Is that a redefinition of the word ‘primitive’ by the Primitive Baptists, or is it a restoration of an older meaning?

    Not a redefinition (it did used to mean “original”) but it’s not exactly a “restoration” either. The Primitive Baptists have just been around long enough that when they first chose the name (in the mid-1800′s) it still did mean “original”. The meaning of the word has changed since then, but the Primitive Baptists apparently never bothered to update their name.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    You’ve always annoyed the shit out of me. Good to see that trend continue.

    huh?

  • Renacier

    Huh?, indeed.

    MikeClawson was just providing information in case someone wanted to know what “primitive” meant in the context of this baptist sect.
    Not like he was personally calling you an idiot., i like tea.


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