to go to church if I don't believe in God?

(53 Posts)
ChristYoni Fri 12-Apr-13 18:31:35

I think I might start going to church. A couple of conversatiions lately have set me off.

My Uncle is v religious, used to be a minister and a missionary, he's one of my favourite people. Has devoted his whole life to helping others.

So we were debating religion, as you do, and I was saying about loving the whole community aspect of church but, what with being an atheist and all, I dont' go. And he replied that he thinks many many anglican priests/ministers are in fact atheists, but that the church is the best medium to really make a difference. And that in his experience many of the best and nicest Christians aren't necessarily terribly devout, that faith in your actions and living well is the real point. And that you can serve God without believing in him.

Then today we went to this Kids club thing today that we've been going to all week, which is put on by the local church which is v happy clappy. And while the kids wre playing I had a free manicure. And I was chatting to the lady about how fab the facilities are but for a £ per child they can't make any money. And she smiled and said, the money's not the point, it's about serving the community. And then she invited me to the family service on Sunday, where the kids go off and do fun stuff and the adults have a sing song and a bit of prayer and do all the god bothering.

And I though, yeah, I coudl get on board with that. Dip my toe in and see if it suits. I certainly like the ethos and I've been going to the toddler group they run for years and they are all REALLY lovely people.

So, whaddya reckon? Is it morally objectional to join a church for the community do gooding and free manicures? Do you think I'll end up believing and being all devout and stuff, despite my fairly solid atheist leanings?

Is this my worst idea ever or my best?

AIBU?

EchoBitch Fri 12-Apr-13 18:35:12

Free child care if you want a lie in on a Sunday morning.

What time do they open?

Do they serve wine afterwards? Because that would fucking rock my socks if they did.

EchoBitch Fri 12-Apr-13 18:36:18

They'll have your DC door knocking though,just make sure it's not your door.

EchoBitch Fri 12-Apr-13 18:36:47

Or mine angry

Gingerandcocoa Fri 12-Apr-13 18:37:05

Being a Christian I would of course encourage you to go smile

Trying to be as unbiased as I can, I think church-goers are happy to welcome atheists or people from other religions but of course you should be aware that their hope would be that you would one day "join" them/us. I don't think there's anything wrong in going if you don't believe - you can give it a try and keep going as long as you want, and if anyone asks you can just say you're just exploring your options. And if it makes you feel uncomfortable then you could perhaps stop going to the service and just keep going to the kids club.

I think that although for me church is firstly about God, I can't deny that I love the community side of it - you make really wonderful friends and have a great opportunity to give back to the community in lots of different ways.

invicta Fri 12-Apr-13 18:37:15

There's nothing wrong with going to church if you don't believe in God. People go for all sorts of reasons. As you said, you like the ethos, and want to see if it suits. Going along to see what it's all about is the first stage of this.

mateinthree Fri 12-Apr-13 18:39:48

The religious deny enough state-funded facilities to atheists in this country, they've no right to question you making use of facilities belonging to them.

Moominsarehippos Fri 12-Apr-13 18:39:56

If it's all nice and community, why not? They will have loads of clubs and trips for the kids and you may well meet some very nice folk.

Happiestinwellybobs Fri 12-Apr-13 18:40:03

I go to family service despite not believing! I started going to the church toddler group when DD came along and I liked the ladies that ran it and they were very supportive.

I went to church as a child, was confirmed and went to Sunday school. As an adult I moved away from the church as had concerns about some of their beliefs and teachings. I didn't get married in church as felt it hypocritical.

However, I like the family service. It is informal and everyone is lovely - they even sing happy birthday to anyone who had had a birthday that week grin. I think it is important to let DD make her own mind up about these things. I do believe in 'something' but not the whole God created the world bit etc.

I am sure no one would mind me going. I sing along, pop my money on the collection box etc!!

I think there are several points here ...

The first is that if you are a vicar/priest and don't believe in God then a career change maybe the way forward.

The second is that a church is not the only way to do good and there are many organisations you can volunteer in in order to do good and great things.

My third point (and hopefully final way) is that in order to develop a faith on God you have to first show faith in him and the best way to do that is to do what he asks (have faith and do his works- keep his commandments and do good).

This of course is my opinion and valid as far as any opinion goes. If it will make you happy, help others and cause no harm go for it no matter what anyone else says.

EchoBitch Fri 12-Apr-13 18:41:48

Oh good grief.

At ours the children's crafty bit is very Goddy. So much so that I took the children precisely once and haven't been back. I'm not prepared to have my 3yo (at the time) tell me that he is a sinner and needs to say sorry to God.

I don't think it is precisely hypocritical if you agree with the majority of the church's teachings, but avoiding confusion/hypocrisy over core tenets such as the Unity of the Trinity, deity of Jesus, etc would be tricky.

ShirazSavedMySanity Fri 12-Apr-13 18:44:51

Go. Whyever not?

As you say, a church is a great community spirit.
And as you sit in the service, you may listen to something which rings a bell with you and prompts you to explore religion more.

Or you may end up doing the Alpha course like I did and thinking there is more to this than meets the eye and actually enjoying the services you attend.

Moominsarehippos Fri 12-Apr-13 18:47:10

'Saying sorry to God!' What church did you go to? I am sniggering slightly at the description of church as 'Goddy'.

ChristYoni Fri 12-Apr-13 18:50:22

WEll, I'm always very put off by preaching at Toddler Group, been there and done that. But this one is all very nicely done, the group runs like any other and at the end they have a bible story and a sing song with a vaguely religious bent (Twinkle twinkle little star, God made you who you are, that kind of thing).

And this is the first time that anyone has mentioned coming along to church, and I'v ebeen going for about three years.

I think I'm going to give it a go. I'm feeling a bit blah in general about lots of things so this might be what I need to do.

1. What do you hope to gain?
2. Are you happy for your children to be indoctrinated into a faith you don't ascribe to?

idiuntno57 Fri 12-Apr-13 18:51:00

My DH is a very devout Catholic. I am a fairly convinced atheist. Our kids are being brought up as Catholics which I agreed to before they were born and I am happy about as all the people I know at church are good and kind. I am pretty involved with our local church and sometimes attend mass with the kids if DH can't or if we want to go as a family. I see no problem with this and my friends at Church are always very welcoming.

I am sure that they hope I will convert one day but even if didn't I understand that it is part of their remit to welcome all. I don't thrust my atheism at them and I accept their beliefs are important to them.

YANBU

OhDearNigel Fri 12-Apr-13 18:51:33

We welcome anyone to our church. You don't have to believe.
"behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me"

Jesus is quietly knocking on your door.

horseyhorse Fri 12-Apr-13 18:53:03

I've been thinking about this lately. I took my daughter to a Christmas service and really enjoyed it. I felt really welcomed also which suprised me as a new comer. I'm not really religious, not sure what I believe. I've been thinking about going to church regularly but not sure if I should.. and my boyfriend says its hypocritical. I just want to belong somewhere and make friends. I have as so its something I find very hard.

Just watch yourself.

First you find yourself a nice church full of polite C of E types who would never be so rude as to discuss faith or bodily functions in public, next thing you know is you're shacking up with a bloke who prays in a dead language and fasts during Lent.

On the plus side, you do get some very nice wall decorations and many, many cold-callers will find an excuse to leave when you open the door and they see the face of God glowering at them from an icon.

No, seriously ... go for it, what harm can it do? It's not as if you're tricking anyone.

ChristYoni Fri 12-Apr-13 18:55:43

1) A bit of community spirit, a nice sing song on a Sunday, mayve a bit of a spiritual boost?

2) Hmm. Not sure. Although we all went to church as kids, and there was a big seam of Salvation Army cultness running through lots of our childhood, and we turned out ok <twitch>

HairyGrotter Fri 12-Apr-13 18:57:11

I couldn't do it. My father was a vicar, been there, done that. I'm an atheist, so have absolutely no belief in it, and it actually irritates me a little haha

If you think you can tolerate it (I couldn't, fake fake and more fake) then go for it

b4bunnies Fri 12-Apr-13 18:58:41

anyone who wants to go to church should go. go, join in, go to clubs, social events, whatever is going on. enjoy. that's what God made you for. get together, help each other, enjoy. some of you will praise God in your words, some by your deeds, some without even knowing it. go to church!

defineme Fri 12-Apr-13 19:00:28

As an atheist, I find volunteering with Homestart and the school pta gives me a sense of community.

I'd find the idea of me going to a church service offensive, but I had no problem attending and helping out with playgroups run by churches when my kids were small.

I just can't imagine praying or whatever happens in services, I'd feel so hypocritical and frankly a bit like I was making fun of the believers?

On the other hand, I am a godmother because my best friend insisted and the vicar(my friend's Dad) knows I'm an atheist and had no problem with it. So perhaps it's ok!

I am an absolutely strident atheist though, are you sure you're not an agnostic?

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