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Going to church when I don't believe...

(10 Posts)
StormHenry Wed 03-Feb-16 19:01:48

I have been attending the same (Catholic) church my whole life, apart from when I was away at university.

I love the community, the rituals, the singing. I like the tradition of going to Sunday Mass. I like the link with family members, especially my deceased grandparents.

I disagree with many of the Church's teachings, but so do many of the others. We are quite a liberal congregation.

The only "problem" is that I don't believe in God, at all. In some ways I'd like to, because I'd like that certainty. But I don't feel that anything is missing from my life, so it's not that I am going to church because I am looking to find faith.

I participate fully in the church community - volunteering, music, various things. I am wondering about taking on another voluntary role.

But I wonder if I am a hypocrite. Is anyone in a similar position? Or how would you feel about someone in your congregation not believing?

Nicknamegrief Wed 03-Feb-16 20:07:46

I think you would be hard pushed to find any one anywhere who is not a hypocrite in some sense of the word. A church is not a podium for the perfect but rather a place where those who are trying to be better go to seek advice, counsel and help along the way (and evidently a church is not the only place where this can be done).
There are many reasons people go to church and they are personal and it is not up to others to judge whether that is a good reason or not.

RNBrie Wed 03-Feb-16 20:18:49

Have you discussed it with your priest?

I'm a regular church goer too (CofE) and I really struggle to believe in the God that's preached about. I discussed it at length with our vicar and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. He more or less said it was fine to believe in my version of God and not the Bible's and to continue attending church and doing my own thing internally.

I guess the difference between you and me is that I do believe in a deity type presence and there being more to life than just what we see before us. I just don't buy into the whole "old dude in the sky who smites down the gays and thinks women are worth less than men" myth (I know there is more to God than this, I'm being deliberately facetious).

I'm not overly familiar with how the Catholics do things but a CofE vicar would never stop you attending and participating in the church because you express doubt in your faith.

StormHenry Wed 03-Feb-16 22:20:35

Thank you both.

As you say RNBrie I don't believe in the God our priest preaches about. I'm not entirely sure what I do believe though. I suppose I don't believe that is definitely not a god either.

Your vicar sounds lovely. Our previous priest would have been happy to discuss this sort of thing and he was very open-minded. Sadly we recently got a new priest. He is not approachable and he has already been quite unpleasant to other members of the congregation who haven't met his exacting standards angry

I suppose his arrival has triggered this as I was quite happy with my situation before. I don't want to leave my lovely community, but I don't like the priest and I feel like he represents a lot of what is wrong with Catholicism so maybe I'm colluding with that by attending. (I mean intolerance and that sort of thing, nothing more sinister.)

I think I'm probably being a bit silly blush there are probably lots of other people at church who don't believe, or believe something different.

stitch10yearson Wed 03-Feb-16 22:32:12

Many people believe in God, but not the church and its teachings. I think you are lucky to be able to take the good bits of your religion, and just ignore the bits you arent in agreement with.

fakenamefornow Wed 03-Feb-16 22:46:38

I'm an atheist and go to church, I even sing in the choir. Everybody knows my views and are still happy for me to attend. It's CofE so I think they are just happy for anyone to bump up the numbers smile Helpful!

I have primary school aged children, they ask me sometimes what we (our family) believe. I tell them that mummy and daddy don't believe in God but it's up to them to decide for themselves what they believe, and culturally we are Christian, we celebrate Christian festivals and have Christian heritage.

Bolognese Wed 03-Feb-16 23:53:48

I see nothing wrong with this, dont rock the boat, live and let live.

RNBrie Thu 04-Feb-16 00:00:04

I do love a good CofE church where believing in God seems to be completely beside the point grin maybe we go to the same church fakename?? Our choir is excellent!!

The way I reconcile with the "colluding" issue is that you can be part of an organisation to help it change. I nearly cancelled my daughter's baptism as it was scheduled right after the first women bishop vote and I struggled with the prospect of introducing her to an organisation that valued her less as a female. Talked about that too with our vicar and he was pretty convincing on the subject of raising the next generation to help the church bring it's values up to date.

I do wonder if I'd still be able to bring myself to go if he wasn't as liberal and accepting.

FrancisdeSales Thu 04-Feb-16 07:43:20

I am a Catholic who is orthodox in my beliefs - in that I believe the creed but StormHenry I'm sure you know Catholics with a range of beliefs. Having times of disbelief or doubt don't prevent you from remaining part of the church. Do you still participate in the sacraments?

StormHenry Thu 04-Feb-16 20:41:52

Francis yes, I do. On the outside I probably look very devout! I'm one of the few people who still genuflects at every opportunity and that sort of thing. I am also quite active in the community and take the idea of service very seriously. I would be the perfect Catholic if it weren't for my beliefs blush

I do know Catholics with diverse beliefs, though mostly quite liberal. I guess my concern is that it isn't really a temporary period of doubt or disbelief. I can't imagine ever changing my mind. In the past I have tried very hard to believe. I just can't reconcile it with my other beliefs/knowledge.

RNBrie that's my thinking too. I nearly left the church a while back. Then I thought that if everyone who disagrees with things leaves, the only ones left will be the people who really do believe those things so nothing will ever change! But then I also feel like maybe it isn't my religion to change.

fakename that's lovely. I'm glad you have such a great community. I think most people in my church would be the same smile I think that's the best thing to tell a child. I never really asked my parents about it. We went to church every week and then Catholic school. I was devastated when I realised that it was what we believed, not something that we knew to be true. I had severe anxiety about death for several years afterwards sad

There are actually a lot of non-believers in the congregation because of new school admission rules, but I don't really consider them to be in the same boat as they obviously don't want to be there grin

Anyway, thank you all for your kind words. I will continue to go to church and not feel guilty about it smile

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