There’s some talk among Unitarian Universalist Christians if the current UUA ad slogan — Is God Keeping You From Going to Church? — caters to atheists. I don’t see that; I just think it isn’t particularly effective. But I knew I was coming from a particular minority opinion and as an insider.
So I asked someone I know and respect — pretty savvy about organizing and media — about her thoughts of the new UUA ad campaign. She’s quite unlike me: a non-Unitarian Universalist, a non-theist, non-white, a non-Southerner and in her mid-twenties: much closer to being an ideal recruit than I. So an ideal person to test the ad on. She thought it was awful. Her reply: “When is this from? 1982?” When I asked if I could blog that, she offered her own assessment of the campaign print ad and slogan, which I present unedited. Read it all the way to the end.
I was born the second child of a Methodist Minister. I donâ€™t want to say that my family is one that just happened to have a minister in it actually its down right genetic. My older brother when he completes seminary this winter will be fourth generation minister. For those of you who think this is some duty to legacy it is not. My father begged my brother to be a businessman or a scientist or anything that makes more than minimum wage but no my brother was called by God so he continues the â€œtraditionâ€. On top of that I have two uncles that are ministers and three cousins who are studying to be ministers. My heritage is Indian and you have to go back quite a bit to find a complete Hindu set.
Under that premise I would be the first atheist to ever be born to this pious clan. Genetic mutation would be the only logical explanation so it might just be a bad batch of genes that caused this horrible atrocity and maybe too much TV that caused me to be so vocal about it. I went to church every weekend, plus holidays, church events, and anytime I was needed from babysitting to piano playing. I canâ€™t say I had a bad time at church the people were warm and the community was strong. I never had a bad experience at church that would cause me to quit God.
When I saw the ad asking if â€œGod was the reason I donâ€™t go to churchâ€ I thought it was odd. When youâ€™re an atheist God really doesnâ€™t have anything to do with your actions because God does not exist. I canâ€™t speak for all atheists just for myself. There are many reasons to turn away from deity worship some negative some positive. For me the reason I stopped going was simply because it wasnâ€™t working. I was not becoming a better person by sitting in a pew for an hour, I wasnâ€™t comforted by reading passages of the Bible, and most of all being in â€œGodâ€™sâ€ presence didnâ€™t inspire me to do good. It was a weight of expectation I couldnâ€™t deal with it caused rebellion for no purpose.
After reading Richard Dawkinsâ€™ books for school assignments the idea of evolution clicked in my head in a way â€œI am the way and the Lightâ€ never could; giving up a deity and the idea of a â€œlarger purpose in life â€œwas freeing. I was a blank slate now and able to create my own philosophy and find out who I was and what I believed. During this journey of self discovery God never showed up.
I still go to church when Iâ€™m home for holidays. Church is a tradition and Iâ€™m happy to oblige. I enjoy seeing the community and to be with my family in a place that makes them the happiest. I have spent a lot of time in churches. My father has been a leader of many in my time has a dependent. I can say with no doubt in my mind that God is rarely the reason people go to church. People go to church to be around others in a safe place where they donâ€™t have to defend themselves, argue, and be hostile. People go for community and for sharing and to find someone to care about and to care for them. They go because humans are social beasts that need others to be strong. What the ad should have asked is â€œDo you not go to church because of church?â€
If they asked that question I would be there first thing Sunday morning.
The comments, as usual, are open.