Is there such a thing as a Christian Atheist? Robert Jensen, a non-believing attender of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Austin, Texas, claims to be exactly that. How can this be? Why did this non-theist join a Christian congregation and even later preach sermons and lead prayers?

[Jensen recently] returned from a trip to South Africa. Folks there, he said, put a high premium on ubuntu, the concept that people become fully human by living within a community and recognizing the humanity of others.

In his mind, that’s crucial in trying to address problems such as racism, imperialism, sexual exploitation, environmental destruction and economic injustice.

…”I joined a Christian church to be part of that hope for the future, to struggle to make religion a force that can help usher into existence a world in which we can imagine living in peace with each other and in sustainable relation to the non-human world,” Jensen writes. “Such a task requires a fearlessness and intelligence beyond what we have mustered to date, but it also requires a faith in our ability to achieve it.

“That’s why I am a Christian.”

No, sir, you’re a good-hearted humanist in sheep’s clothing.

Having hope, living in peace, recognizing humanity in those around us, and using community to achieve it does not rely upon religion nor upon Christianity. The church may be one avenue that’s currently open to spreading good to this world, but it certainly doesn’t need to be the only one. And it could do a lot better.

Bettering humanity is a task for each of us. I agree with that concept of ubuntu; humans are community-oriented creatures. As a Christian in my past, and now as a freethinking atheist, I heartily believe that we become the best of all possible beings when we’re in community with one another. Being together crafts us into better people who can change the world.

We can all do these amazing things; we just need to build more avenues that are open to more people (and–may I say–avenues that don’t rely on mystical ghosts and superstitions to light the way). What better way to serve the world than to have secular communities that neither rely on ancient myths or supernatural motivations to do good, nor have to fit into the limited model that is “church”. Sure, it would take creativity, time, and hard work, but perhaps we could create a community of communities that could better serve those around us and the world than what’s been done before.

We don’t need to try to fit into an old, dusty model that’s too stuffed with misdeeds and mystical nonsense. We can make something new!

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6 thoughts on “The Christian Atheist & Our Need for Community”

mysie · June 9, 2009 at 3:29 am

Many years ago Dan Savage, gay advice columnist, decided to help change the Republican party from the inside out. He even attended the Republican National Convention, if I remember right. He eventually gave up, presumably because he realized it was a lost cause. Maybe Robert Jensen will have better luck?

    godlessgirl · June 11, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    I heart Savage Love!
    It's too bad he didn't make more of a splash with the GOP.

Misstcalia · June 9, 2009 at 5:03 am

I just think there are other avenues to look into to help others. I would hate having to go thru a church to do that. I couldn't imagine being a christian atheist, I just don't think that exists, I can't wrap my head around it.
I love helping people, but there is no way I would want to do it out of a church. But that's just me. 🙂

    godlessgirl · June 11, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I somewhat agree. I'd rather find secular organizations and groups that could do the same good work. The sad part is that many Christian groups are already well-established and are making an important difference in the lives of people worldwide. I can't fault them for doing what's right, even if they have motives and beliefs I don't jive with. If only more non-religious orgs could be just as strong and effective in those same areas!

      No Guy in the Sky · June 20, 2009 at 11:09 am

      Religious orgs are motivated by other motives than true charity. Converts is the true game. Spreading the virus for world religious domination is how they win. Feeding/sheltering/clothing poor peoples is a mean to their true objective. Non- religious orgs are harder to form without some other goal.

I Do Care. | Godless Girl · November 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm

[…] those who are not quite strong enough to go it alone? Can we move forward together? Is my dream of atheist community  just a silly, romantic, and futile idea in this period of individualistic […]

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