The church with no God in America's Bible Belt

Viewed from the outside, the pointy-roofed building in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee deep in the heart of America’s Bible Belt, looks very much like a church.

And stepping inside, where a congregation is swaying along to music, listening to sermons and discussing ways to help their local community, it sounds very much like a church too.

There is, however, one rather fundamental missing ingredient that sets this congregation apart from the hundreds of others turning out to worship this Sunday morning in Nashville: this is a church without God.

Lifted from the linkied Telegraph article -

“The kids still moan about it,” admits Craig Mueller, a lapsed Catholic who has four children under 10 and comes to the service **because he enjoys the sense of community. **“I tell my nine-year-old son, it’s time to go to Sunday Assembly and he’s like 'Argh, no, boring!’”

What it’s about is “community”. Putting your faith in atheism is intellectually and socially arid. And they’re going to run into the same problem Christians do - as soon as their kids are old enough to get out of it, they will.

Incidentally, why should their kids go until they’re old enough to make up their own minds? Isn’t that what the atheists would say themselves about churches? It shows up one more of their hypocritical stances.

This movement will last only while times are relatively good. But if there is a major economic breakdown, war or other massive catastrophe, it will evaporate, as there is no spiritual substance behind it.

How said, but telling of our society.

In general I find atheists to be much better company than your garden variety Protestant Fundamentalist.

Just anyin’

I actually think ‘churches’ like this sprout BECAUSE of fundamentalists.

It’s like the sheep without the shepherd. I wonder where they will roam? Don’t they know they’re souls are pouting?

Logical next step from lukewarm mainline churches where the name of God is merely mouthed as a kind of convention. Why not get rid of all this “God” nonsense and enjoy the community aspects?

Do you define Evangelical Protestantism as meeting the criterion to apply to your term?

It doesn’t seem that surprising a phenomenon to me. Human beings are hard wired for community.

Perhaps this is a symptom of people’s effort to find God in our Churches and being unsuccessful due to rampant hypocricy. I fully believe in God, choose to be Catholic and will never be anything else, but I do have to say this: The Church DID NOT bring me to her doors, give me the desire to be Catholic and she does not keep there. God does.

I have met and known more “Christian like people” who where atheists and agnostics than I ever have within the walls of the Church. Maybe the mediocrity within our own Churches is pushing people away, who without their knowing, are really trying to find God.

It is within the Church that I have been slandered, dismissed, rejected; it is here that I have witnessed some of the most unholy actions, attitudes and behavior. And folks wonder why so many are leaving. I often wonder why so many stay.

The same kind of “church” has opened up here in Chattanooga as well, the largest supporters being the Professors of the local universities:(

All we can do is pray for them.

After all. I was once an Atheist who walked into a Baptist church and came out Catholic:thumbsup:(long story on that one) So I know that through prayer, God can and DOES perform conversions within our hearts.:thumbsup:

Not really, though of course any church can call itself evangelical. I’m talking more about congregations in the Methodist, PCUSA, etc denominations–not to imply that everyone who attends a mainline church is lukewarm about God, but it certainly seems to be a pervasive problem for those denominations.

I agree with you on that. I mean we could think it was made for the sake of mere antinomian contrarian spite…but I’m guessing ppl are going for the ritualism with community that’s a part of Christian and religious culture more likely than some radical non-theistic take on craving for Christianity without God.

I’m kind of curious to see if when there’s a big socially unfavorable event whether they’ll stick around by being keen enough to develop some philosophical foundation or such :rolleyes:.

Chesterton said that the best arguments against Christianity are Christians.

However, I also like what Mother Angelica said. When told by people they don’t attend church because there are too many hypocrites, she retorts, “Well, one more wouldn’t hurt.”

A free society depends on people organizing themselves into private organizations in order to meet the needs of the community.

while I dont really agree with their choice here, they are using their own God given free will and if that is what they want, then they are entitled to it.

It really speaks about how bad it is in the Bible Belt. What worries me is the recent trend of articles like this and people thinking American Catholics will find it easier to warm up to Bible Belt culture.

As a pretty lapsed person myself, I shudder at the thought. You could convert the entire region to Catholicism, I would still not wanna live there. If that ever happens, I’d dwell in my basement for most of the day and only come out at night. Forget using statues of Mary or JP2 to ward off door-to-door preachers. I’d cover mine in Wiccan runes, pentagrams, and Cthulhu glyphs. (Maybe I should put a velociraptor statue out front with the The Origin of Species in its mouth just for good measure.)

Seriously, though it’s ironic phenomenon like this that create more holes in Christianity than anything to do with actual doctrine. Paper versus practice I say. Don’t blame the flock for running away when they’re scared off by their own shepherd.

So do I.

When it comes down to it, there is not much difference between this ‘non church assembly’ and your typical Protestant mega-church.

Both have entertainment as their goal. Bands, skits, snacks, and a lot of people have traditionally thought of sermons as entertainment.

Before television and radio people would spend all Sunday in church, at least Protestants. They would go to "preachin’ and hear an hour or two hour sermon. Then they would come out and have ‘dinner’ on the grounds and go back in for another 2 hour sermon.

And in interacting with Evangelicals I found that they don’t have a lot of “meat” to discuss, theologically, politically, socially- pretty boring and bland interaction.

At least atheists can usually keep up a spirited conversation, even if premises are faulty.

Completely agree Darryl. I hope this idea catches on (among atheists and agnostics :smiley: ) as without this sort of organisation you get the unhealthy situation of people using the state as their church which causes division and fighting.

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