My UU "church" is actually a "Fellowship," the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg. We were founded by a group of atheists and agnostics and, though the spiritualists have come in, we still have a strong atheist presence.
I go not to "wean" myself from religion, I never had a religion to wean myself from, but for community. About 15 years ago, we
had the Lisk/Silva murders here in Spotsylvania. In the midst of that tragedy, I found myself a little envious of the Lisk family. One of the minor threads of that story was the way the community enfolded this family and protected them. This went far beyond what I had ever seen any sort of secular community do. I thought I'd never have that type of a community for myself. I mentioned this to some people and several recommended I check int the UU's. I resisted, but then about six years ago, I attended a First Night event at the UU. I was impressed by the quilt that hung in the fellowship hall (sanctuary) behind the speaker's podium (altar) that had the symbols of many religions, including an atheist symbol (the Darwin fish). I then read the literature that was there and finally, about three weeks later, I wandered in on a Sunday morning.
I have found more loving acceptance there than anywhere else. After the talk (sermon) there is about 15 minutes where we are able to question and even challenge the speaker. If a "sermon" is too religious, I or another atheist are welcome to stand and respectfully offer a differing opinion. This is a very different experience from some of the atheist groups I have belonged to where, if I have disagreed with o some of the members, I have been told to not discuss certain topics or not to come (I was defending a woman's choice to be sex-positive and even to choose to participate in sex-work if she was an adult and was participating consensually - the woman with whom I was disagreeing was using some horrible slurs that were really offensive about sex-positive women and sex-workers. And yes, I have had this conversation with many at the UU, have led discussions on the subject at a UU sponsored group, and my pastor knows all about it and still thinks I am groovy.). Sadly, some of my experiences with atheists have been more ideologically intolerant than any I have had at my "church" or even with many of the religionists I have known.
Luckily, that has not always been the case and I value my atheist groups as well. But still, they do not give me the totally accepting, supportive, and ethical community I have found at UU.
So no, my UU membership is not a purgatory. It is not a substitute religion. It is a place where, as a middle-aged single woman with no family that I can rely on in a time of crisis, I feel safe and loved and cared for. And I also recognize that it is not for everyone.
I apologize if I have hijacked this thread. Back to defending the separation of church and state!
From: Woody Lipinski <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Wednesday, December 12,[masked]:06 AM
Subject: Re: [NOVA-Atheists]
Question to all regarding Inauguration Ball
I think and I see now that UU churches can be used for "purgatory" purpose for many people who gradually can be liberated from obsession of any religion or churches.
What do yo think?
On Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 7:25 AM, Anna <[address removed]>
My parents are both atheist and raised me and my brother in the UU church, because they wanted us to belong to a progressive community, since we were in rural blue collar Michigan. I've been a member of the Unitarian Churh of Evanston (IL), the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia (even teaching children's religious education - although the books talk about civil rights, rather than god), and the Alexandria UU Church because it is a good host for community activities and a good organization for my daughter to belong to. However, around here, there are plenty of alternatives, so I haven't been as active as I used to be. Even for a church where atheist and agnostics are the majority, it still was a bit too religious for my tastes. I would still rather exposé my daughter to that than other
organized religion, but with plenty of friends from Camp Quest and other secular family groups, it no longer seems necessary, the way it was for me and my brother growing up in rural America (my mom drove us two hours each way to visit a UU congregation and she is as ardent an atheist as they come).
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On Dec 12, 2012, at 12:27 AM, Josh McCullough <[address removed]> wrote:
Why would an atheist want to belong to a church? What am I missing?
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