So I’m on a Meetup list for atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, and skeptics in the San Francisco Bay Area. On my Meetup profile, I listed my interests as Agnostic, Atheism, Secular Humanism, Freethinker, Freedom From Religion, Critical Thinking, Separation of Church and State, Skeptics, and Atheists.
So I got this invitation to join a meetup group — New Community of Faith’s, Rainbow Community Center. They had this to say in their invitation:
We are an Open, Welcoming and Affirming family church believing that Christ calls everyone without prejudice or distinction to love and worship God. Whoever you are; wherever you are on the journey; whomever you call family— you are welcome in our Community of Faith! We also hold a number of different events just to bring people and community together. Such as game days, music festivals, dances, and many other events….
And in the list of topics and interests that they’re about, they listed Agnostic and Freethinker. Which, I assume, is the reason I got the invitation.
So here’s what I wrote back.
Do you get that it’s inappropriate to invite atheists and agnostics to a group that worships God and believes that Christ calls everyone? I am an LGBT person, and I appreciate that you want your group to be welcoming to a wide variety of people. But atheists and agnostics get religion shoved in our faces every day, and it is not particularly “welcoming” to open our email inbox and get one more shove.
We do not worship God or anything else, and we do not believe that Christ calls us (or anyone else, for that matter). This isn’t because we experienced prejudice or were made to feel unwelcome. And believe me, it’s not because we were unaware of the religion option: religion is overwhelmingly dominant in our culture, and it is impossible to ignore. The reason we do not worship God is that we think God does not exist. We have considered the possibility — again, in our culture it is impossible to ignore — and we have come to the conclusion that the God hypothesis is implausible at best. If you want to work in respectful alliance with non-believers, a good first step would be to accept this basic fact, and not treat atheists and agnostics as people who would love to attend church if only we found the right one. Thank you.