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Atheist taking part in church festive celebrations

(22 Posts)
Ehhn Tue 23-Dec-14 13:04:01

I'm an atheist but I value the community spirit and the atmosphere provided by C of E churches and, at Christmas, I find attending midnight mass a lovely moment of reflection. I don't take communion, for obvious reasons. I don't mention my atheism and I join in with every other part of the service. I don't tend to take part in any other services, although i do support some of the charity work through local churches. Out of interest, what are others' views on this? Do other atheists see this as hypocritical? Does anyone find this offensive? (This is just a post for interest and debate; if there is a current thread on this topic, do direct me towards it).

AuntieStella Tue 23-Dec-14 13:14:33

Our church welcomes all. You would most definitely not be giving offence.

No-one will be judging the quality of anyone else's faith, even to the extent of beliefs which directly contradict the existence of God.

NoNameIsGoodName Tue 23-Dec-14 13:16:33

At my church you would be one of a good few who feel the same way. At midnight mass at least half the congregation just come for that service too.

ItMustBeBedtimeSurely Tue 23-Dec-14 13:17:08

It's fine. I am similar. I'm not a Christian, but Xmas carols and services are part of my cultural history Imo, and I think as long as you behave respectfully, there's not a problem. I've never met a Christian who objects.

ifancyagreencard Tue 23-Dec-14 13:20:43

There's a lot to be said for the comfort / enjoyment gained from rituals and fellowship, even if you are an atheist. So hell, yes - go to Church!

Midnight Mass is the service in the year most attended by non regular worshipers at ours; we are glad to welcome everyone (even those who turn up totally trolleyed hmm )

LadyCassandra Tue 23-Dec-14 13:20:52

You'd be welcome at our church too. Jesus was welcoming to everyone!

I live in a town where there are not a lot of community events. The church seems to be the place that everything happens: Playgroup, soup kitchen, AA, ballet, baby music groups. I think that is what church should be, not just ta place for Christians who go there on Sundays.

Wonkyparsnip Tue 23-Dec-14 13:26:25

You'd be very welcome at our church. All faiths can receive a blessing if they wish and you could too.the Church as a whole should welcome everyone anytime. Some people just want it to be a private members club (although think that's starting to disappear thankfully).

Ragwort Tue 23-Dec-14 13:37:18

Yes, of course you would be very welcome, my mother is an athiest but often comes to Church with me and joins in all the social events, and helps with the fund raising grin. Every one is welcome.

thegreenheartofmanyroundabouts Tue 23-Dec-14 14:16:03

If you turned up at the C of E church where I work you would be very welcome. We are seeing a lot of people that don't normally come to church at our carol services and I would expect lots of people I don't recognise at Midnight Mass. As staff don't know who is atheist or visiting clergy or whatever. We got a stray bishop in last year and they only reason we clocked him was that he was in his purple.

Avoid the seats at the front and sit as far back as you can as then you can follow what other people do with standing or sitting.

scaevola Tue 23-Dec-14 14:36:45

"stray bishop"


headinhands Tue 23-Dec-14 15:08:19

When my dad was recovering from depression I put him in touch with a local church I used to attend. They already knew him well from when I was a Christian and knew he wasn't a believer but that at that time in his life would benefit from being part of a community along with his other sources of support. They were more than happy with this. He attended for a few months and gradually stopped as he got better. He liked the singing but just can't believe in it.

I used to be a Christian but still enjoy carol services at Christmas. It's part of my cultural background along with Barry Manilow and blue mascara so has a comforting nostalgic affect.

headinhands Tue 23-Dec-14 15:10:35

Lol at stray bishop. Was his coat a bit mankey and riddled with fleas?

TheFourthLobster Tue 23-Dec-14 15:12:53

Go to the church services if you want to go,nobody will mind and you will probably be welcomed with open arms so to speak.
I hope that you enjoy them. We're going tomorrow but we rarely go to church any more.

SignoraStronza Tue 23-Dec-14 15:21:55

I take the kids along to christingle and Carol services. Used to sing in a church choir but realised I was effectively atheist when I went along to a few confirmation classes.blush
DH refuses to come along but I go for the same reasons as you. See most of our friends in the village and is a chance to explain the story of Christmas to the children - and that's how I view it really (as well as enjoying singing the carols). A series of stories with a message. I just lack the faith and belief in a god!

bigbluestars Tue 23-Dec-14 17:56:04

Does it matter what other people think?

lovelychops Tue 23-Dec-14 18:03:44

Do people really turn up drunk ifancyagreencard ?! shock Blimey.
I'm glad I've come across this thread and that the replies have been so welcoming.
It looks as though we could be stuck in hospital with DD this Christmas and I'd noticed there was a midnight mass in the Spiritudl Room they have. I considered attending but am in a similar position belief wise to the op. I may go along now !

MoominKoalaAndMiniMoom Tue 23-Dec-14 18:07:32

We'll be going to midnight mass. OH is an atheist, I am agnostic but my faith is growing, and midnight mass is a family tradition. I love church services; my family have always been welcome at them even as atheists.

Ehhn Tue 23-Dec-14 18:36:50

To the pps who talk about the comfort of ritual and togetherness, that's a major part of it, isn't it? Of feeling some kind of connection to humanity (and history), and feeling comforted by the soothing rhythms and familiar cadences of prayers and songs. I often find myself humming hymns as go through the day. For what it's worth, I suppose I'm a complicated atheist, as I do believe in the historical Jesus (archaeological and textual evidence etc), but I don't believe in a god or higher power. I guess I believe in the potential for goodness in humanity (even though there is plenty evidence that we can be awful).

... Oh, and I will bring some money for the collection!

This has turned into a lovely thread.

BackOnlyBriefly Tue 23-Dec-14 21:41:54

We are atheists and I have no problem with it. My DP goes for the singing and anyway loves the ancient church buildings.

Of course this is why some people are starting up 'atheist' churches (needs a better name) For people to get together for all the other stuff without the actual religious part.

Getting together with your neighbours is a good thing in itself and always was one of the positive sides to congregating at the local church

BackforGood Tue 23-Dec-14 22:12:28

You'd be very welcome in my church too. Not of course that anyone would know what your beliefs ere, u less you chose to tell them, but even if you did say that you ere an atheist, you'd still be very, very welcome.

Lovelydiscusfish Tue 23-Dec-14 22:16:09

You'd be very welcome at our (C of E) church, too.

MehsMum Tue 23-Dec-14 22:18:11

I'm an Anglican (typical fluffy theology...) and would have no problem with atheists turning up at the church I (irregularly) attend. I don't think it would worry the regulars either.

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