The Tiresomeness of Going to Church as an Atheist

I asked Limey from the Confessions of a Y.E.C. Blog to do a contribution post on the topic of dealing with emotional tiresomeness of going to church as an atheist.  I asked him because I can already feel the emotional toll it has already taken upon me, so I sought him out, since he has already gone through this experience.

When I first started on my journey from Christian to Atheist I had no idea where it would lead or what would happen. The idea that I would find church tiresome never occurred to me. In fact, when I first started to wonder if atheism was indeed the end result of my journey, I still expected that I would attend church because that’s what my family did and to stop that family activity would be a step too far.

At first it wasn’t difficult to keep going. Pretending was easy because I knew everything; the songs, the rituals, the regular sermon materials, the prayers; everything was so familiar, how could it possibly be difficult to keep going and hide my lack of belief?

My faith died slowly and so the problems with church crept in slowly too. It started with the first conversation that I had with my wife about the state of my faith. I admitted to her I had doubts and I was struggling with the faith I once had. That was the moment when Church started to be a problem. Up until then I kept all my concerns and my doubts a secret and so attending church was not really questioned because I had no public reason not to go.

Once I started to be open about my waning Christian faith the conflict between what I believed (or didn’t believe) and the requirements of Christian belief in church became harder to ignore. It started with being cautious about how enthusiastically to sing the songs, especially those of a more worshipful nature. The more intimate aspects of Christian worship also became a problem; especially communion. After that first conversation with my wife I ceased taking communion, but that was not enough, simply being there for a communion service made me uncomfortable so I stopped attending communion services. It wouldn’t be long before all church attendance stopped, I don’t miss it at all. I now enjoy the alone time I get at home when the family is at church, it’s a time I cherish as mine and I feel would be wasted if I spent it at church instead.

When I first saw the word tiresomeness in the suggested title for this post I stopped to think, “is that how I view church now?” I’m not sure if it is the most accurate word to describe my situation. However, it does fit reasonably well and I am sure there are those who would certainly embrace that description. Tiresome fits because for me as an atheist the goings on in church are meaningless, worse than that, those that attend and take part are simply taking part in superstition and irrelevant ritual. The being they appeal to does not exist and that means the claims on which they base their whole system of belief are without foundation.

That above may sound harsh, but for an atheist stepping into church and attending a service, that is exactly what is being thought. It equates to a climate scientist attending a meeting of climate change deniers, or an evolutionary biologist attending a creationist meeting or an astronomer attending an astrology meeting. When an atheist such as myself attends a church service everything that gets said and done is very familiar, and that means their mind is full of reasonable objections to everything that gets said and done. Relaxing is not possible because the mind is being assaulted by false arguments and illogical reasoning; a recent example being the challenge to “look out at the world and not see God in the beauty of His creation”.

An atheist can’t listen to that every week and not get affected negatively. It is tiresome because the mind has to rebuff attempts to make belief in god logical and reasonable when the real truth is that it is not.

At the start of my journey I really did believe that I could continue it and remain a church-goer. It turns out I was wrong. More than that, it is tiresome to listen to a message that one has consciously rejected. There is also a deeper dimension here that I am only just realizing; if I wish to support my wife in her church activities or to remain friends with the pastor it’s important for me to not be in a place where I view their actions unfavorable, which would be the case if I continued to go to church.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Freedom From Religion Foundation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So church can be tiresome for a former Christian and this particular one has found it to be so, which is why he’s now stopped.

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About M. Rodriguez

When I first received Christ salvation, I made it a priority to read the whole bible and I did. But it was the Bible that made me question my faith. For I found it flawed and lacking. Due to this I launched a personal inquiry/investigation into my faith, and ultimately realized that the Christian God of the Bible was indeed man-made. Now I Blog about those findings and life after Christ.
This entry was posted in church, conference, doubt faith, emotions, Free-Thought, freethinker, guest post, jesus, reason, reasoning, religion, trust your bible and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Tiresomeness of Going to Church as an Atheist

  1. Neil Rickert says:

    Thanks for that perspective.

    I did sometimes find going to Church (still a Christian) to be a bit repetitive. There would occasionally be an inspiring sermon, but most of them were not. But it didn’t bother me, because there were other reasons to be there.

    It had not occurred to me, how that would be for an atheist. When I dropped out of Christianity, I stopped attending Church, so I never ran into that problem. Your post, on what a problem it can become, does make a lot of sense.

  2. anothernone says:

    I haven’t been to church in over a year. I truly don’t miss it either. The difference in you and I is that my husband has stopped going as well. It has sent up red flags to the family, but no one has been brave enough to ask what is up with our lack of attendance.

  3. aynway says:

    I agree…there were MANY times even when I was a Christian when I found Sunday services to be tedious. I was so earnest, too. I TRIED to find inspiration there, but all too often I felt it to be so insular, so other-worldly oriented, so separate from this real world where we actually live.

    Now that I’m deconverted, I wouldn’t attend a regular service if you super-glued my testicles to a cannonball and shot it through the front doors.

    Weddings, funerals, the occasional mitzvah, okay, they’re difficult to avoid. But regular services, no way. They would not simply be tedious to me. They’re so loaded with nonsense I’m sure I’d be outraged.

  4. Arkenaten says:

    “Now that I’m deconverted, I wouldn’t attend a regular service if you super-glued my testicles to a cannonball and shot it through the front doors.”
    The funniest line I have read from a de-convert. Excellent!

  5. Pingback: What real people think about going to Church | A Tale Untold

  6. I gotta tell you, as a church going Christian, most Sunday’s I find it tiresome. I just think you’re all lucky bastards to be able to skip it!

  7. Craig says:

    M. Rodriguez,

    You had commented on my blog yesterday; I released it, and posted a response to it. I’m hopeful that you’ll read it. You’ll find your comment listed on the right hand side under “Recent Comments”.

    I won’t be offended if you delete this comment as it is not pertinent to your thread. It’s only my intention to make you aware of the foregoing.

  8. noblethemes says:

    “Tiresome fits because for me as an atheist the goings on in church are meaningless, worse than that, those that attend and take part are simply taking part in superstition and irrelevant ritual. The being they appeal to does not exist and that means the claims on which they base their whole system of belief are without foundation.”

    Very well-stated and, let me say, not at all surprising that the former Christian-now-atheist would find church attendance tedious and even offensive. Better, then, to stop attending unless, of course, the now-atheist can find enough good and beneficial in the whole warp and woof of the believing/worshipping community to warrant continuing … even still, s/he would have to be able to dismiss an awful lot that smacks too much of the supernatural. In any case, I don’t know that this is realistically possible and I believe in the whole of your article you agree.

    One point of disagreement, however, is your above statement. Of course, I realize this is your perspective as the former Christian-now-atheist; however, it is worth pointing out that however much you are convinced that what the attendants believe is mere “superstition,” it is simply untrue that the related rituals are “irrelevant.” In fact, these rituals are absolutely relevant – fundamentally so – precisely because the attendants are not taking part in superstition – whether it is de facto superstition or not – but rather in something they fully believe to be truth.

    So, too, the “being they appeal to” may not, in fact, exist; does it therefore follow that all of their claims are “without foundation?” One example comes to mind, if I am understanding you correctly … and if I am not, then of course I apologize. Christians claim love-for-neighbor as a moral imperative. Many other religious adherents, as well as any number of atheists and agnostics, agree. Is this “claim” based SOLELY (and, thus, with complete contingency) upon the existence of God, or might it be said that for Christians this moral imperative is based PRIMARILY upon the existence of God?

    There is a difference, an important difference, as many other examples of “claims” could be forwarded … claims with which many diverse peoples throughout time and from around the world agree accept, often as if the claim is practically self-evident. Again the question: Are all of they “claims” necessarily, completely “without foundation” if the “being” in whom they believe is, in fact, non-existent?

    Appreciated reading your article. Again, it was well written and stimulating. Thank you!

  9. Pingback: Going to Church as an Atheist | The BitterSweet End

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