Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Agnosticism Conflating Atheists With The Unchurched

Agnosticism Conflating Atheists With The Unchurched Image
I've had lengthy conversations with two Christian friends recently on the question of atheists and people who do not go to church. I found that they confuse the two types of people and conflate roles and characteristics. In a conversation about prison ministry, they repeated the Christian canard that prisons are full of atheists. I countered with statistics showing that almost all inmates believed in god or professed a religion of some sort. My friends asserted that prisoners declare a believe in God, but they are atheists. Their reasoning was simple, if they were Christians, they would not be in prison. I usually get a headache at this point.

I explained that atheists are people who assert that there are no gods. People who profess a believe in God are theists, but they may not be Christians because they do not subscribe to a specific Christian theology. I refer to theists who fit in this category as the unchurched, a term I learned from a pastor. I think it fits. There are lots of unchurched and few atheists. What bothers me is that many lay Christians do not see it this way. They often refer to what I call the unchurched as atheists or event agnostics. It is maddening.

My only weapon is dialog. I repeat myself as often as I can. I tell the story every time the question comes up. I even ask that my friends re-tell the story. I think its important to clarify things so that it paints the proper characterization. I'm not looking for god. I'm not interested in going to church or in religion at all. I think I speak for my fellow atheists. We are not the droids you are looking for. Technorati Tags: Atheism

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