Church every Sunday...for atheists? Amanda Westmont and Joel Gunz -- both self-described non-believers -- visit a different house of worship every Sunday, then write about each experience on their Beliefnet blog, "Year of Sundays."
Gunz, a former Jehovah's Witness, and Westmont, an agnostic, have compiled a fun-filled and intriguing list of 10 things that even atheists can enjoy about going to church. The first among them? The food.They write:
From pre-sermon pancake breakfasts to Sunday evening spaghetti feeds to fresh-baked egg rolls after a dharma talk, we’re big fans. You don’t have to believe in Communion to love the idea of breaking bread with your fellow man.
The second element the two find likable is the architecture. As most Americans (even the non-religious) know, churches often have unique designs. Additionally, beautiful art can be enjoyable to everyone, regardless of personal beliefs (or the lack thereof).
When it comes to community involvement, both Westmont and Gunz see the charity initiatives that churches engage in as yet another positive. Helping the homeless and launching poverty awareness initiatives are just two of the methods through which churches serve local communities.
Music, too, is another plus -- even for atheists and agnostics. They write:
Whether it's live jazz at a progressive Presbyterian service, the sublime mid-century chants of a Taize service or the pounding rhythms of a full gospel church, there's more live music happening on Sundays than you can shake a conductor's baton at. Best part is—it's all free!
Interestingly, both Westmont and Gunz claim that "the people" are a positive element for even non-believers to embrace. At church, they say, everyone is on his or her best behavior. And, the sermon -- regardless of whether they embrace it -- is an excellent conversation starter. In addition to the individual people, the writers find solace in the community as a whole.
And who can forget the rituals? While a bit light-hearted in their description surrounding why they like communion (particularly the wine), Gunz and Westmont also tout the serenity and quiet that church affords them.
For their last point surrounding what they love about church culture, the two chose "Jesus," writing:
Jesus was a great man—a model of courage, humility, strength and love. You don't have to believe he was resurrected and whisked up to heaven if you don't want to. Just do yourself a favor and give his words a chance. They're easy to find. He spoke in red.
So, it seems church can be likable, even for those who do not subscribe to a particular faith system.