Enough! What religion am I already!?

Background: After being a practicing Catholic, a pretending Catholic, an agnostic, and now just a general Christian, I’ve decided I want to go back to church again. But I’m not sure what denomination. So, I’m going to lay it all out on the table, my entire religious philosophy, in the hope, possibly vain, that someone can tell me where I should be going. Here goes:

I believe in an all-knowing God that does not intervene in human affairs because He granted us free will that is absolute and cannot be given up, even if a person claims they have. That is why there is suffering in the world. That is why bad things happen to good people.

I believe that Jesus is the son of that God and that the account of his life in the Gospels, while it can’t be totally accurate, hits the major points accurately: miracles in general, the message of love and forgiveness, and the resurrection. However, I also believe there have been others throughout history that have been messengers at the very least: Mohammed, Buddha, etc. God is not so conceited that he requires you to worship Him. If you choose to worship, it should be out of a personal desire to give thanks and tap into one’s spiritual side.

I believe in an afterlife that rewards those who have led good lives and are sorry for the wrong they have done. What religion you practiced on earth has NOTHING to do with what happens to you in the afterlife. If you led a good life and are sorry for what you did wrong, you’re in. If you don’t meet those requirements, you don’t go to hell, but you are simply cast into an empty place, an ether if you will.

I do not believe The Bible to be the literal truth throughout: the contradictions in this make it impossible and history and science have given us enough information to disprove much of what is said in the Bible and other spiritual books. I believe the stories in the Bible contain themes and messages for living life. I do NOT believe in the Creation story. In fact, I think much of the first five books of the Old Testament is Hebrew folklore and mythology. The Bible was written by divinely inspired people – flawed people.

I do not want to be part of any denomination that looks at gays, lesbians, and women as those who should be treated differently in life, or will be treated differently in the afterlife. Gay ministers are OK by me. Gay marriage is OK by me. There should be no prescribed gender roles. Divorce should be discouraged but allowed. Abortion should also be discouraged, but those who have them should be welcomed back with open arms.

The church needs to be socially active, but not politically. Working to halt the spread of poverty should be a priority.

The service should be very upbeat. I don’t want to sing songs or recite responses about how I’m a terrible sinner and don’t deserve to be alive (Like the Evangelical Lutheran service I tried last week, or every Catholic service I’ve been to) God AND humanity should be celebrated.

Okay, I think that’s everything. Again, I hope this doesn’t turn into a thread where my stated beliefs are criticized or defended. I just want those who are up to the task to take a look, and tell me where I’d feel most comfortable worshipping. However, I welcome questions asking me to clarify my beliefs further from those trying to help me out here. This has been bugging me for months and now that I’m settled geographically finally, I want to finally figure this all out.

Liberal Quaker. :smiley:

Maybe I should have explained the humor in my last post in case you didn’t get the reference. In this thread Dopers kept coming up “Liberal Quaker” again and again when we took the Beliefnet quiz. Even though none of us had ever heard of that religion before. For a while we went around asking “Hey, what is Liberal Quaker anyway?”

I don’t know all that much about religions in general, but I know several people who seem to think as you do, and have found a permanent home in the Unitarian Universalist church (geeze, now I hope I have the name right…) Maybe do a search on “UU church”?

Since joining a church is important to you, I’ll second the Unitarians. Just about every one that I’ve ever met has been, through and through, a good egg.

<<Dopers kept coming up “Liberal Quaker” again and again when we took the Beliefnet quiz.>>

Every pagan I know came up Liberal Quaker. 'Cept me, and I came up Reform Jewish. (Jewish?!?)

Anyways, you’ll actually find that congregations vary from place to place, and you aren’t looking for a denomination so much as just a group of people that you get along with. The Catholic church in the town I went to college sounds much like what you’re describing; and heck, a few of the churches in my conservative tiny hometown are pretty similar, too. Your defining factor may be that you want a church where gay folk get a fair shake; have you considered asking any gay friends where they attend church?

Corr

I agree that Unitarian Universalist sounds like that best religion for you. It’s liberal and accepting. I’ve never been to a UU church, but my boyfriend was raised by a UU minister and a very Catholic mother (he’s chosen his dad’s religion now) and he told me that the only bad thing about it is that church can seem a bit like a board meeting, because it doesn’t have the rich traditions of the Catholic church and everyone is trying hard not to offend anyone else.

Don’t know a lot about Unitarians, but you might be happy in Episcopal church. They are fairly sanguine about the old testament, have women priests, allow parishes to go their own way on gays, don’t make a big deal over divorce, and, although they probably aren’t wild about abortion, don’t expect you to leave the church because of it. The sermons are basically “be as good a person as possible” and peppered with many amusing and/or inspiring anecdotes. The basic message seems to be to pattern your actions on those of Jesus as much as you are able. One important note: there are “high” and “low” Episcopal parishes. The services in “high” Episcopal parishes are more formalized and may not be to your liking. There are many refugees from the Catholic church showing up in the Episcopal church these days. BTW, cocktail hours are still fairly common at Episcopal social gatherings for better or worse. Anyway, they are definitly worth a look - might be just the ticket for you.

You might also look at either the United Church of Christ (former known as Congregationalists) and the Christian Church Disciples of Christ. Both fairly liberal, both very welcoming of all types of people, both active in social causes. I grew up in the UCC, and later joined the Disciples when I moved and the local UCC church seemed “snobbish”.

Which brings up another important bit: Don’t just choose your denomination, check out various churches as well. Even though they may be under the same heading, they will differ widely based on the people who attend them.

I’d say go visiting a bunch and see. But (snipping some):

As far as doctrine goes, this eliminates the Unitarians, who believe (as the name implies) that Jesus was not the son of God, but that God is a complete unity. Mind you, the Unitarians are not big on doctrine, so if you find them amenable in every other way, go for it. They do tend to be politically active, though.

Churches are not monolithic on this one. The Episcopal church (someone mentioned it) is undergoing quite a dialog on this one, as are several other major denominations. It will vary depending on your area (Texas, pretty hard against; San Francisco or New Jersey, anything goes.) Don’t worry about doctrine for the Episcopaleans — if they can accept Spong, they can accept you.

This is much more a matter of the indivdual congregation. Go visiting. See for yourself.

Well, I happen to be a practicing Quaker, and Beliefnet aside (isn’t that hilarious, how anyone with the slightest liberal leanings winds up with Liberal Quaker so high on their list on that thing? But I digress), you might want to look into it. They’re very accepting of various beliefs and viewpoints. Most of the Quakers I know are Christian, although there are a few who do not believe that Christ was the personification of God on Earth, and at least one Quaker I know is an atheist. (I’m not sure exactly why he has chosen to be part of a Quaker congregation as an atheist…I really want to talk to this guy and pick his brain a little. I’m relatively new to Quakerism myself.)

Anyway, Quakers are quite socially active. They’re probably most renowned for their pacifism. There are several Quaker groups that are dedicating to fighting the spread of war in the world. (A fairly unpopular viewpoint in today’s current climate, too, I must say.)

I really get a lot out of going to Meeting, and find that being a Quaker really works for me, spiritually speaking. You may want to find the local meetinghouse in your area and give it a whirl sometime.

Yeah, Beliefnet said I was, in this order, “Liberal Protestant” (thanks for being so specific Beliefnet!), “Liberal Quaker” and UU. My other problem is a serious lack of transportation around where I live. The bus doesn’t even run on Sundays, and the only churches within walking distance are Catholic and shudder Southern Baptist.

Yeah, that whole “going to DC without a car” thing kinda backfired, didn’t it? Now that I know a lot more about UU, I think I might explore that some more. Haven’t even tried looking for a Quaker group near me, but I’ll look now. Though I still have to rid my brain of that Quaker/Richard Nixon connection. :wink: