I QUIT! The Importance of Resigning From Church (With FREE Offer!)

Frank and I have been talking about church resignation. On episode 142, I interviewed Kyle, who was participating in a “mass resignation” from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (you know- the Mormons!). While the event itself was underwhelming, I was incredibly moved by Kyle’s honesty, his integrity, and his bravery. He talked about the journey that led him to leave his faith behind, and the very real fear he felt that his intensely religious family would abandon him when they found out.

For Mormons, this is not an uncommon experience. The decision whether to resign from the church is often a hand-wringingly fraught one. The risk of losing one’s family is only one part of the issue. Equally difficult is the fact that you’re formally and (somewhat) irrevocably severing your ties to what you’ve been told your whole life is God’s one true church. The only way to heaven. The key to eternal happiness. It’s a psychological minefield.

After a lot of discussion, we here at TGIA have decided that those are exactly the reasons why you absolutely should resign from your church. The psychological hold that churches have on their parishioners isn’t always as intense as that of the LDS church, but it’s there. Even if your former church has plenty of space for “lapsed” or even non-believing members, and you don’t feel any psychological connection to them at all, TGIA feels that you should still resign. While a clean break from your former spiritual affiliation may not be necessary for everybody, there really is something to it. We’ve decided you don’t get your full “Atheist Card” unless you’ve done it.

With that said, we’re offering this very real incentive:

If you officially resign from your former church and let us know, WE’LL SEND YOU AN ACTUAL, HONEST-TO-NO-GOD ATHEIST CARD!

That’s right! You’ll finally be an official, card-carrying atheist!* How exciting is that???

We also want to read the letter you send, hear all about the aftermath (good and bad), and be there for you as a community as you take this step. Just head over to the contact page, and start yourself on the road to having one more thing taking up space in your wallet/purse.

More to come (including a look at the design of the card itself)!

In the meantime, however, the ex-Mormon community has some great (if overly intense) resources to get you started. It’s geared toward the LDS church, but you kids are clever and can make modifications for whatever church you used to be a part of:

Happy resigning!

*Obviously, nothing we do could actually make your atheism any more or less legitimate. This is just ’cause we like to have fun, and thought you might enjoy it.

Atheists Really Know Their Religion

This morning, a couple of my Facebook friends posted a quiz they'd taken on their walls.  That's usual. As you know, dear internet savvy reader, people take stupid quizzes on FB all the time. How else are they going to know which 19th Century novel heroine they most resemble or how well they would fare in a zombie attack? Or this?

This quiz was different, though. It wasn't from Facebook.  It was from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. It's called the U.S. Religious Knowledge Quiz (you can take it yourself here). Its goal is simply to test basic knowledge of the world's major religions (and, apparently, Mormonism… What, Pew guys, nothing about the "Society of Friends"?). 

I, of course, immediately took the quiz and, not surprisingly for someone who occasionally writes a religion-themed blog, I aced it (honestly, I guessed on the last one…).  Actually, I spent most of the quiz asking myself how anyone who had any religious history at all in the U.S. could get any of the questions wrong (except, as I mentioned, that last one… guess I should bone-up on my "preachers of the First Great Awakening"…).  But then, nobody lately has accused Americans of being over-educated. 

Things became more interesting when I looked at the analysis of the results (which you can find here)(I'm using an awful lot of parentheses in this post). As it turns out, "religion bloggers" is not one of the categories of people who were rated for accuracy on the test.  Atheists and agnostics, however, were.  And they really knew their stuff!  

Take THAT, "Nothing in Particular"s! 
 Just like white folks- to "mainline" Protestantism

This chart, which I simply stole from their website, 'cause that's easier than typing out the results myself, shows something I've often suspected: Hispanic Catholics don't know shit about religion! HA HA… I kid, of course. Actually, I honestly would've thought Hispanic Catholics would be closer to the top.  They seem like such churchy people. Do you think there was a language barrier? But I digress…

No, what I suspected is that atheists (American atheists, anyway) are more knowledgeable about world religions than the people who practice them.  It makes sense to me that this is the case. Many American atheists were raised in one religion or another. That means two things: A) They learned about at least that one religion pretty well, and B) they probably went through some sort of process of intellectual examination of that and other religions.  People who believe in a religion all the way turn off their critical eye.  They no longer look honestly at their beliefs, they just skip blindly down the path that's been laid out for them (and let's face it- if you feel like somebody's given you the combination to the "eternal glory" safe, you don't want to rock the boat)

I suppose that one possible interpretation of these results would be that the more you know about religion, the less likely you are to want to be a part of it.  While that seems likely to be the case to me, I don't think that you can come to that conclusion just from these little statistics.  It's a fun thought, though.

Anyhoo- just thought I'd make you aware of this.  We'll bring you new developments as they come…  Or whatever.

Glossary of Religious Terms

1.    A rational, active thinker who has examined whether or not it actually seems likely that a god or gods exist, and has come to the only logical conclusion.
2.    A person who has had the good fortune of having been raised without indoctrination into an irrational and baseless belief system.
3.    Someone of a theistic background with an interest in really pissing off his or her parents.

1.    An atheist who can’t quite shake the fear in the back of their mind that Jesus or Allah may still be able to get them.
2.    A fence-sitter who wants to please everybody, but ends up just equally annoying all sides.

1.    A person who believes in magical beings or supernatural powers for which there is no evidence and which usually claim benevolence, but end up being pretty shitty a good deal of the time.
2.    Someone who subjugates their own powers of logic and reason in order to be included in a community of equally gullible peers.  Characterized by a willingness to believe or do anything they’re told by a single man or small group of men who claim (without offering any evidence) that god communicates to them directly.
3.    A member of any of a number of groups who commit frequent acts of horrible injustice and often violence in the name of a just and peace-loving deity.

Bible [see also: Qur’an]
crazy noun
1.    A compilation of stories (frequently impossible) purported to be the history of ancient people in the middle east.
2.    A confusing mishmash of parables and dogma which often contradicts itself and makes it very clear that life in ancient times really sucked.
3.    A book frequently cited by believers in support of the hatred and/or persecution of anyone who is different in belief or situation.

Buddhist (Asian)
1.    A subscriber to the teachings of the Buddha; a man of Indian descent who looks like a fat Chinese guy.
2.    Someone who tries to stave off the boredom and tedium of daily life by tricking his or herself into thinking that mundane things are interesting.

Buddhist (American)
lame noun
1.    Someone who realized that the Christianity they were raised with was bullshit, but was too used to somebody else telling them how to live and how to think to just quit religion cold turkey.
2.    Someone who likes to seem “deep” and “spiritual”, but who doesn’t really care for yoga.
3.    A person who really likes the feeling they get when they’re on a mountaintop or in a forest, but wants it to mean more than it actually does.

1.    A believer who puts no pressure on his or herself to actually act in any way that would indicate their belief.  Except on Christmas and Easter.
2.    [Archaic] Any participant in or subject of a Western European political structure, characterized by protracted and extremely violent campaigns to bring others into their belief system and then take their stuff.

scary noun
1.    A believer who refuses to acknowledge that any truth exists outside of their uneducated back-woods understanding.
2.    A person incapable of venturing into the realm of free or open thought.  
3.    Someone too crazy or stupid to see any contradiction between their desire to do violence to those unlike them and their desperately held belief in a god who insists on peace and love.

fictional noun
1.    A magic person, usually male, who lives in the sky and grants occasional wishes to those who are extra special good.
2.    The infallible creator of all things who sometimes destroys a bunch of what he created because he doesn’t like how it’s going.
3.    The least likely explanation for why we’re here, where we’re going, and what rainbows are made of.

1.    A belief system that involves worshiping men with elephant heads and a chick with six arms and possibly cows… who really knows?  Anyway, they’re in India.

Qur’an [see also: Bible]
crazy noun
1.    A book similar to the Bible but which differs in that the hero is named Muhammad instead of Jesus, and it has a different dress code.

1.    Head bad guy on Superman II who, when he realizes that on Earth he has powers comparable to Superman's, develops a god-complex.  Following christian architypes, he would be the satan character, but he's way cooler.  Also the only entry I could think of off the top of my head for the letter z.