2007-11-23

A Man of No God

UPDATE: I officially resigned a week later. While I originally became ordained for the sake of novelty and as a protest against the special status of religious leaders before the law in performing certain ceremonies, I became increasingly concerned about confirming misconceptions about atheism, about my own conceptual clarity, about the apparent seriousness of the organization and finally about potential legal issues.

Today I have become an ordained minister with the First Church of Atheism. From time to time over the past few years I considered being ordained online with other groups, but I always decided against it because they always seemed too mystical or spiritual despite being completely non-dogmatic. This is not an issue with the First Church of Atheism. I'm fully legally ordained, but by an organization whose principles I support and which cannot possibly be mistaken for a liberal Christian denomination.

When I was a devout Catholic, I seriously contemplated entering the seminary to become a priest. Then as now, I didn't want any children and I knew that I couldn't in good conscience marry with the intention never to have any children, so it seemed like a reasonable option. I went so far as to write to a traditional seminary and look into scheduling a vocational retreat but no further. Eventually my scrupulosity came to dominate my life and removed the possibility from consideration. It surely would have been a major mistake to pursue that path and I have no idea what my life would look like today if I had. It probably though wouldn't have been as disastrous as if I had married a devout woman and had a child with her before undergoing a deconversion! It's remarkable that I might have become a Catholic priest and that now I'm an atheist minister.

I'm currently considering ordering the package which includes an official ordination certificate and identification card. I don't actually intend to perform any services, but I'm rather pleased that my new status means that in theory I have the same legal rights to preach my ideas to congregations and to perform weddings and funerals as any believer in the supernatural. I also like referring to myself as an atheist minister!

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7 comments:

the chaplain said...

I guess congratulations are in order. So, congratulations.

Rebecca said...

"I didn't want any children and I knew that I couldn't in good conscience marry with the intention never to have any children"

Umh, maybe you should have tried talking to a woman before worrying about that. I'm a woman who choose not to have kids. I knew from high school. I know many other women who don't want kids. Not wanting kids isn't a good reason not to get married.

Secular Planet said...

It had nothing to do with women; it was all about Catholic doctrine. The Church teaches that contraception is a mortal sin and that natural family planning may not be used to avoid having children altogether.

Now that I'm not a Catholic, I would like to get married to a woman who doesn't want kids.

vjack said...

But doesn't this reinforce the mistaken notion that atheism is a religion, has a particular doctrine, etc.?

Secular Planet said...

@vjack

I understand your point, but for me it's really nothing more than a novelty and a protest against the special respect that theists get before the law to perform certain ceremonies. This blog post will soon be forgotten and I will change my "About" information in a few days. I can also have them remove my name from their rolls if I want. Does this answer your question or do you still think it's a bad idea? I'd like to know what you think.

Rebecca said...

Ah - got it. I was also raised catholic, but frankly was never as devout as to listen to those parts of the church's teachings. Then again, I never considered becoming a nun either!

Anonymous said...

In the company I work in Serbia (I am not sure if it is about the state law or just corporate practice) I get two days of payed leave, and an additional day - for baptism ! Of course, probably some other similiar religious acts get this kind of treatment, but if you are an atheist, your child will be having you spent a day less with family, at home. So, it is something I do not want to maje jokes about, first church of atheism has freed my mind ! I am was now legally able to use this extra day and spend my quality time wiht my family !