Jerry DeWitt Holds His First ‘Secular Service’ in Louisiana

For those of us who weren’t in Louisiana yesterday, former pastor Jerry DeWitt hosted the state’s first-ever “Secular Service” with a theme of “Joie De Vivre: To Delight In Being Alive”:

The New York Times already has some positive coverage of the event:

Mr. DeWitt counts himself among the hard-line atheists, but he believes that something may be lost when someone leaves the church — not just the parts about God, but also a sense of community and a connection to emotion.

“There are many people that even though they come to this realization, they miss the way the church works in a way that very few other communities can duplicate,” he said in a phone interview. “The secular can learn that just because we value critical thinking and the scientific method, that doesn’t mean we suddenly become disembodied and we can no longer benefit from our emotional lives.”

To paraphrase something Daniel Dennett once said, religion has us beat when it comes to emotion — they can say, “Join us and you’ll matter.” For a long time, we’ve ignored that emotional component of atheism. It’s too touchy-feely for many of us. But Jerry shows us why we shouldn’t discard it completely. He can draw people to his service who might not otherwise come to any other atheist conference.

More power to him.

There’s rough video of the service available courtesy of sfbayou (though, given the number of video cameras you can see, I’m sure better quality footage will turn up elsewhere…)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.