"Atheism and Judaism are not contradictory, so to have an atheist in a Jewish congregation isn’t an issue or a challenge or a problem,” Shrogin said. “It is par for the course. That is what Judaism is. It is our tradition to question God from top to bottom.” ….
Unlike other religions, Judaism has often embraced its atheist strain. ...And because Judaism is not dogmatic — unlike Christianity and Islam, there is no creed to adhere to — atheists can be open about their lack of belief and still belong to a synagogue….
“An individual who attends synagogue, participates in Jewish communal affairs, and contributes heavily to Jewish charities would undoubtedly be considered a very fine Jew, without asking questions about whether or not that person believed in God.”Clearly I'm not a Christian. But am I an Episcopalian? I go to church regularly with my wife, we give to the church, and I perform service. Yet I don't believe in any of the creed or the rituals. This article argues that people like me might actually be a benefit to a congregation.
Recently a number of blogs have engaged in their regular pastime of bashing of atheists, by which they mean, Richard Dawkins, for having the temerity to say he doesn't read theology.
Why should he? He's decided that God is a fictional construct, and to him, telling him he has to read theology to decide that is like telling someone they can't criticize StarTrek without reading the elaborate world of fake background developed in the Star Trek handbook I saw on the table at Barnes and Nobel recently. You may not agree with him, but it's consistent with his worldview.
A couple thoughts come from this tiresome Dawkins-bashing.
First, when you go off on "atheists", you are implying that there is no place for the faithless in your churches. And before you say "why would a faithless person come to church?" go read my ruminations on the subject. (We won't even address whether there's room for the "spiritual but not religious".... ;-)
Second, I don't know why you pay any attention to Dawkins. After all, whenever people point to Pat Robertson or Fred Phelps or James Dobson, you are more than ready to dismiss them as not representative of "real" Christians. Pay no attention to the man behind the microphone! But you're all very ready to announce, condescendingly, "I don't believe in the God Dawkins doesn't believe in either." Well, bully.
But lots of "Christians" do believe in that God and so far, they are the ones winning the cultural debate on defining Christianity for the rest of us. As lovely and charming and inclusive as you may feel inside your church, it appears no one is paying attention to you outside. See, you're not "Christian" -- not the way Fox news and Mike Huckabee get away with defining it. And in part, it's you letting them do the defining--not as individuals necessarily, but as an institution.
Two recent articles are worth contemplating in this regard. JCF pointed us to this article by Wayne Besen, calling liberal Christians to task for not fighting back. And Leonardo Ricardo pointed us to this article from Bilerico that says much the same thing.
I would enourage you to stop worrying about Dawkins and the faithless, and start worrying about your fellow Christians. That's a much harder conversation to have--but a far more important one.
And meanwhile, consider that WaPo article. Is there a place for, or even a need for, atheists in church?