A secular church?

A secular church? February 27, 2013

I’m guest blogging again, this time for the Rationalist Association:

(The title wasn’t mine; I don’t object to it, really, although I might take out the second “r”)

Churches scarred me, but secularism can be lonely

Scarred by his fundamentalist upbringing, but in search of a sense of belonging, Jonny Scaramanga gives a cautious welcome to then idea of an atheist church

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist. If you’ve ever watched God TV, or seen a Creationist trolling a science blog, insisting that the Grand Canyon was carved out in a fortnight by Noah’s Flood, you’ve met my old beliefs.

Because my brand of Christianity was so sectarian and divisive, I’ve rarely been part of any kind of community in my life. I regarded the local Anglican church as a dead form of religion unrelated to True Christianity. But I grew up in a small village, with a C of E school and church, and I saw how the church was a hub for the community. People eating in the deli on weekdays seemed to know each other, neighbours chatted in the village shops, and people said hello in the street. It was the kind of English idyll which isn’t supposed to exist anymore.

Since I became an atheist, I’ve often chatted to friends about ways to build the sense of community which churches are supposed to create. The idea of neighbours not being strangers, of meeting people you otherwise never would, and of doing things to support the community seems completely desirable to me.

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