An atheist goes to church.

My father passed away a short time ago, and I was staying with my mother the past three weeks, helping her with getting his affairs in order, and providing each other with emotional support. Last Sunday, she wanted to go to church, and I attended.

I am an atheist. My mother does not know this; and if all goes to plan she will never know this. The few times I have to be slightly deceptive to her on this subject is far less weighty on my heart than the pain she would feel if she believed I wouldn’t meet her in the afterlife. There is no doubt in my mind on this subject; she must continue to believe I am a Christian, for her emotional well-being.

So we go to church. We went to a non-denominational one that I believe she had attended before. I dressed up in my suit, but I was surprised to see that many people attending were wearing blue jeans.

Church has changed a lot since I last attended; at least this one was different from the last one I was in, many years ago. Big video screens were hanging from the ceiling, showing the bible verses being discussed. This made a whole lot of sense, why should everyone have to bring in a bible themselves?

We took communion. My mother says this isn’t done every week; how often is this typically performed? When we were driving home, my Mom asked if I was hungry, I almost said “No, I just ate the flesh of Christ!” I decided not to. And I’m sorry if that offends anybody reading this, I mean no disrespect.

I’m not really sure what my point is here. I guess I have a couple points to make.

First, I know I have been at best skeptical of religion on the board, and at worst hostile. I see now the comfort that religion is giving my mother in this dark, dark time, and even though I still believe that religion is false I am grateful that my mother has this to help her.

Secondly, I have to admit I wish I had this belief and hope as well, not to mention the sense of community that it gives. I have some close friends, but I don’t feel the community like I think the religious folk do. I’m always hearing of how my relatives are receiving help from their church, and I’m neither giving nor receiving help to and from people like these folks are. Not to mention the idea that there’s someone looking out for me, a very powerful and loving someone.

I salute you religious Dopers. Peace be with you.

Thank you for the salute, Revtim. I was hesitant to open this thread at first, but now I’m glad that I did. Your salute is a welcome change from the acrimony that is often the subject of such threads, and I, for one, sincerely appreciate it.
Peace to you, as well.

  • Dirk

Probably best you withheld your remark but it would have made no sense as only the R.C. Church has transubstatiation. I’m a Luthern so we get a wafer dipped in juice (so kids can commune too, not because we’re anti alcohol). It nourishes the soul but LadyLion still hit the breakfast buffet for serious carbs. :wink:

I admire you for the respect you show your mother and to her faith. You faced a tough choice and I hope you don’t feel too compromised by it. Thank you for your wishes and peace be with you also.

I had no idea only RC has transubstantiation, interesting. Any idea how often communion is typically performed, in RC on non-RC churches?

The church we went to dipped bread into grape juice, and the one I went to as a kid, an Assemblies Of God church, also used grape juice and not wine.

Well… unless anything has changed Communion happens every Saturday/Sunday mass in the RC church. And if I recall correctly it’s also a part of the last rites. If you are able of course.

Flutterby, Raised RC and still doesn’t know much about it.

I attended and was baptised into a Seventh Day Adventist church as a kid. Communion, along with the foot washing ceremony was held every three months. I believe (possibly incorrectly, it’s been a long time) that that is the standard interval for the SDA church.

The comunion was done using crackers (similar to Wheat Thins, but no salt) and grape juice so that baptised minors could participate.

Our Methodist church has communion on the first Sunday of every month. As I recall, the Lutheran (ELCA as opposed to Missouri Synod) church I grew up in also had communion once a month. The Lutherans had wine and wafers (back in the 70’s); the Methodists have bread cubes and grape juice.

I’m an active member of my church and I’m bringing my children up in the church, even though I’m an agnostic at best. I grew up with a church and just because I can’t feel the faith anymore doesn’t mean that I don’t want or need that sense of community it offers. When I had surgery and when my dad died, the people of the church rallied round. When similar things happen to other church members I know, I join in with whatever group the person is most active in (United Methodist Women, a Sunday School class, etc.) and we do things like arrange visits, childcare, food preparation, or transportation. I’d mean to do the same for any friend, of course, but if a friendly acquaintance from the kids’ school, say, was in a position to need help, I wouldn’t necessarily know about it or know what to do to help. The church provides the organization necessary to provide real, material help.

We hear a lot of rotten things about the harm that some people do in the name of Christianity. I’m glad that you’ve gotten the chance to see the positive side of what a church really is.

Yeah, I’ve frequently prayed to have faith. Apparently I don’t have enough to get those prayers answered, or I’m just incapable of it.

We RC have communion with every Mass, and with occassional services that don’t include a full Mass. I believe that we and other Orthodox churches (Greek Orthodox, Armenian, etc) are the only faiths that believe in transsubstantiation. We use wine in our Sacrament, feeling that a sip of wine isn’t going to hurt any child.

I’m glad your experience was a positive one.


Great post Revtim.

For the curious - at my church (LCMS Lutheran), we have communion every other week. We don’t believe in transubstantiation either. We believe that “Christ gives us His true body and blood (in a miraculous way), together with the bread and wine, for the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our faith.” (copied from another site)

I grew up Catholic, but for the life of me I can’t recall how often we communed. Seems like it was every week.

Eucharist (AKA Mass, Lord’s Supper, Divine Liturgy, etc.) is celebrated every Sunday at all Catholic and Orthodox churches and virtually all Episcopalian and Lutheran Churches. From what I understand, it’s the standard service at Disciples of Christ Sunday services as well. “Mainstream Protestants” (i.e., Methodists, Presbyterians, UCC, etc.) tend to hold it on an average of between once a month and once a quarter, moving towards a more frequent celebration in the last decade or two.

And I was very touched by the OP, and gratified by the sentiments Revtim expressed.

I hear that and second it.

In the Armenian Orthodox church, we have communion every week.

We’re ELCA Lutheran and do communion once a week.

St. Germain, I talked to a friend recently who is an Orthodox priest and when he gave us a mini-lesson on the early splits in the church I thought he was pretty specific that only R.C. had transubstantiation.

I also agree that a wafer damp in wine won’t hurt any child but can be a serious danger to a recovering alcoholic.

Padeye - I believe the Protestant faiths don’t believe in transubstantiation, I believe that the Orthodox faiths do believe in the real Presence in the Eucharist. It’s a matter of vocabulary. They don’t use the word “transubstantiation”. Here’s a link that explains it: Orthodoxy and Transubstantiation

This is a quote from a Eastern Orthodox Catechism website:


I’m also ELCA Lutheran.
::Gives Padeye the secret handshake:: :wink:

We have communion every week, and have both wine and grape juice. We use the wafers most of the time, and just dip it in a chalice of either the wine or juice, but depending on which week it is in the church calendar, we might get communion bread instead of the wafer and kneel at the altar railing for communion and get a little cup of either wine or juice.
That would be for certain holidays and celebrations.

I think the way you are handling the situation is great, Revtim, and I wish my brother were a bit more like you. He is atheist, but is hostile towards Mom about Christianity. He has friends that are other religions and anti-religions that openly despise and mock Christianity, so occasionally he has to jump on the bandwagon. Considering that she lives with him right now, this is extremely painful for her. Mom is one of the most loving people that I know, and she has never tried to offend any of my brother’s friends, but he refuses to show her the same respect. Interestingly enough, he is just as bigoted, judgmental and self-righteous as he claims Christians are. I’m truly glad that you can at least give your mother respect and show some self-restraint. I truly think, given my brother as an example, that you are saving her pain. Kudos to you.


Your second reason is one of the big rationales behind my being Unitarian. Its nice to have a community, as well as a place for the rituals of life.

Besides, it gives peace to my father to think that his grandchildren are not being raised as complete heathens.

(I’ve never seen Communion at my service).

Revtim-I’m shocked! All this time I’d assumed you were a reverend.

 Re-Communion Jokes

As a Jew, I can’t imagine Judaism without humor. When you celebrate a sacred covenant by snipping a boys putz in a public ceremony, you have to have a sense of humor. Remember, Abraham named his son laughter(Isaac is an alteration of the Hebrew Yitzhak, which means laughter).

Question For Atheists-
If a believer who knwos that you are an atheist prays for you, are you offended? Annoyed? Would you be offended if they told you that they expect you to make it to heaven despite your atheism?

Nitpicky feminist alert!

Sarah named her son Yitzhak, because she laughed when the angel told her she was going to have a baby.

Revtim, that was a very sweet post. I’m sorry to hear about the death of your father.

I sit corrected.