I won't go to church!!

Hi, As an Antitheist I find myself increasingly frustrated at the thought of attending weddings, funerals etc. in church - I have told my wife that I feel I can no longer attend such services but this has upset her - can you offer any advice to me (I'd really like to know if you think I'm taking it too far!). Thanks (keep up the good work), Justin P.S. Is it really wrong to honk the horn on my car outside a church if I know there's a service going on inside?
Atheist Answer: 

Assuming your wife isn't very religious, I think I know why she's upset.

Since you're against theism, of course you wouldn't attend a church service if the only point was to worship, pray and donate. And you probably wouldn't go to christenings, first communions or confirmations either since the purpose of each is explicitly religious. But religion isn't why people attend other people's weddings and funerals.

They go to weddings to support and congratulate the newlyweds as they make a public commitment to each other. In front of their friends and families, never mind "in the sight of God". And they go to funerals to support the bereaved, or if they are the bereaved to get some emotional closure on their relationships with the deceased. In both cases, the gathering of friends and family is what makes it important. In either case, God and religion are the least important things.

By not coming to a friend's wedding, you're saying to them (regardless of what you intend) that your antitheism outweighs their friendship. They and your wife wouldn't be upset because you don't share the religion, they'd be upset because you're not there. Same with funerals. People you know would miss your support when they're grieving. Maybe you wouldn't be doing yourself a favour psychologically by missing a last chance to say goodbye to whoever's died.

I know it's painful, but at times like these you really need to think of others. Otherwise you come off looking incredibly self-centred. Sorry, buddy.

Just go in there, concentrate on the people you're there for and don't join in the prayers. Then go right back out and carry on doing whatever it is you do to combat theism. With a bit of progress, perhaps fewer of the weddings and funerals you attend will be held in churches or with priests.

- SmartLX


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Slightly related but I went

Slightly related but I went to my niece's Year 6 "graduation" ceremony. It was to "celebrate" her moving from primary to high school. It was in a church and was nothing more than a drawn-out religious ceremony, about how they're moving onto bigger things with Jesus in their hearts and the holy spirit and a bunch of other nonsense. It was INCREDIBLY painful to sit through an hour and a half of, but I did it anyway because I love my niece. Had I known what it was going to be I probably still would have because my niece is important to me.

That's not to say, though, that I didn't complain about the grossly over religious nature of it all, and my sister (niece's mother) didn't look too pleased about it either. I don't think she was expecting the graduation to be nothing more than a mass. Thankfully I don't think niece was entirely impressed with the religiousness of it all. She's not an atheist yet but I'm slowly working on it (don't want her mother to find out! )

The point is as SmartLX said - these things are painful and sometimes offensive to us anti-theists (and sometimes to atheists) but we do them anyway for the people we love. We be there for them, and just block out the hour and a half of God-bothering.

Comment on I won,t go to Church

I am an Indian, Hindu by birth but not religious by faith. India is a multi religious society. So I have to attend marriages and funerals of people with different faith. As such whether the ceremony is in a hindu temple or in a church or other place of worship does not cross my mind. The rituals do not matter, but my presence as social gesture matters. Even I married with Hindu rituals . But it was to have a social sanction on marriage rather than any religious aspect. When going through a hour long ceremony before so many people , the marriage seems to have more commitment than just going to court and signing in register for a civil marriage. So I take such occasions in social terms. I thin being atheist does not make me to assert my self to make every other person look fool in believing in god unless I have taken that as mission.I consider let me mind my business. Because I have to carry on with my profession of an engineer.

A better Deepak

Thanks for that, Deepak.

Here's something vaguely related: my best friend is about to head to India as a high-level salesperson. She's an atheist, she has no religious beliefs, but she's not game to set that firmly in her mind right now because the religion a visitor to India declares has a tremendous effect on social status relative to the locals. As a "cultural Christian" or Christian by birth, she will probably declare Christianity, but she is seriously considering declaring one of several other religions, purely for the social benefits. She doesn't know how people there would react to a declared atheist.

The problem is that she has the impression that she'll be tested on her knowledge of the religion she declares. This worries her because she doesn't even remember that much about Christianity, let alone the others.

It's a frightening hoop to jump through, isn't it?