About 3 years ago when I started digging deeper into the veracity of religion, I thought it might be a fun idea to visit a different local church every Sunday morning. I was raised in the Church of Christ and had only very limited interactions with other denominations, so I was curious. Ultimately, though, the desire to sleep in won out; church attendance would be a much more interesting experiment if it weren’t so early on my day off!
Then about a year and 1/2 ago I read Hemant Meheta‘s “I Sold My Soul On eBay” -an interesting read, wherein Hemant auctions off his Sunday mornings to the highest bidder, then does a review on the churches he visited, giving them advice on how to be more appealing to outsiders. It re-kindled my interest in doing a survey of my local churches, but at the time I had to be at work by 11 am on Sundays and I wasn’t about to get up extra early for the early services.
Recently on Twitter, JT Eberhard has been encouraging atheists to claim the #ChurchTweet hashtag, and either tweet about their reactions to a church service or about what they’re doing instead of church. It’s been fun to see what people say, and I totally made it into the Best of #ChurchTweet for the week. (I’m probably more proud of that than I should be….) But anyway, I find this again rousing my interest in checking out the churches.
I’m already making excuses not to do it. Sleep is important. I’m not a morning person. This next coming Sunday falls on Halloween weekend, and I promise you I will have had too much fun Saturday night to even think about attending church Sunday morning. I went to church at least 3 times a week for 18 years, so what more can they really have to say to me that I haven’t already heard? There’s nothing new under the sun, right?
But that’s the thing. As previously stated, I have very limited experience with other denominations, but the few I have experienced have been very different from CofC. I went to a Baptist church once (freewill, I think, but don’t quote me on that) where my overall impressions were, “Holy crap! A piano!” and, “Since when was there a Christian flag, and why are these people pledging allegiance to it?” I have also been to a Methodist church two or three times which was an even bigger culture shock to a former CofC-er like me. Instrumental music, women preachers, celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday, clapping in church?!?! What is this?!?!
So, I think it would be interesting to go check out some churches and see how they look viewed through the filters of atheism and former CofC-ism. It’s also important not to cut myself off from opposing views. I claim to have an open mind, willing to review the evidence for a god and accept one if there is proof, so I shouldn’t completely shut out the religious claims. I know we have a First Assembly of God, a few Methodists, Baptists, a Mormon church, and at least 2 Churches of Christ- one on each end of the conservative/liberal scale. Google tells me we have a Seventh Day Adventist church, a Jewish synagogue, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, something called “Crusade Church”, Jehovah’s Witnesses… this could keep me busy for a good long while.
At the least, it’ll be good blog material, right?