I felt a bit uneasy when I read about this earlier in the week: What happens at an atheist church?
I have my family to thank for the fact that I was never christened and not brought up to believe in any religion, just given all the information and allowed to make up my own mind. I knew I was an atheist long before I could spell the word. By High School this resulted in my spending morning assembly in the back row with the teachers, sat next to the solitary Jehovah's Witness and exempt from prayers. (Do I need to mention I wasn't the most popular kid?) Over the years, most of the other non-believer's I have met have decided, it's been something they have given a lot of thought to. Strangely at odds with many of my other friends who got married in church, christened their children and chose godparents for them (don't worry, they say, you don't need to be a Christian... errr - I think you DO!), but when I ask if they believe in god they shrug and say "it's just what you do, isn't it?"
I guess that's why the rather vocal atheist lobbying that seems to be gaining momentum of late, worries me a little. Is it a good thing if people give up on religion simply because it is kind of trendy? If you haven't really thought it through and reached your own conclusions, reached your own peace with the idea of a god-less universe, one you are no longer at the center of, what happens when you hit the really hard moments in life? Where do you turn? How will you cope?
I don't like the thought of someone 'preaching' atheism either, too easy for it to become a cult of personality. Why does the whole structure need to ape a religious service anyway? Why on a Sunday morning? A quote from the BBC article sums up what worries me: "It will become an organised religion. It's inevitable. A belief system
will set in. There will be a structure, an ethical outlook on life." I don't want anyone to tell me how to think! That's where all the trouble starts, how long before we have breakaway sects of fundamental atheists who want to dictate what form our non-believing takes?
The one thing that does really appeal to me about this is the communal aspect though. I watched "A Dream of a Life" earlier this evening and it's a chilling
reminder of just how easy it is for people to fall through the cracks of
our fragmented modern world. We do seriously need to rebuild our local communities, give people a place and a reason to congregate and start to look out for one another again. With or (preferably) without religion.