Learning to Be Brave:

How Atheists are Teaching This Church-Girl About Courage

A reflection on Week 3 of #mykindachurch, a project of #decolonizelutheranism in partnership with Saying Grace. Learn more about #mykindachurch in our intro post here.

This week along with a Black Radical and a Flamboyant Queer we heard from a Rational Humanist, a Godless Heathen, and an Atheist.

And all I can think is:

Wow. These folks are so damn brave.

We don’t have to look far to see the ways that the institution of the church has hurt people. Whether it’s perusing #mykindachurch and seeing phrases that point to peoples’ experiences with church-led and church-driven manipulation, judgement, and shame, or whether we look back throughout history at the countless examples where the church has been used as a tool of colonialism, capitalism, white supremacy, and the cishet-patriarchy, the church, a place that purports to follow a guy about life abundant has so often been an agent of death.

Although we are seeing the decline of Christendom in the United States, Christian privilege itself is still painfully real in our society.

That means that anyone who isn’t a self-professed Christian? They are inherently counter-cultural and often marginalized.

And yet when we put out the call looking for “various people of different intersecting and marginalized identities, particularly non-churchy types,” these folks engaged.

They took a chance to be vulnerable, to be open, to share intimate parts of themselves and their stories with decidedly Churchy Types like me.

They came into a churchy space, a space that had tried to silence and shame them, and told the honest truth.

And I just keep thinking, “What if the Church had that kind of courage?”

What the if the Church, instead of wringing our hands and wondering if our sermons are “too political,” had the courage of atheists, Black Radicals, and Queers to be counter-cultural?

What if the Church, instead of getting defensive or shrinking away, had the courage to work with folks different from them, like these atheists had?

What if the Church, instead of fearing losing money in our offering plates or butts in our pews, had the courage to tell the Truth, even when its unpopular?

I can’t help but think that these atheists came into the Lion’s Den. And the lions…. are us.

Remember when the Church used to risk being fed to lions? Why aren’t we that church anymore? Why aren’t we that brave?

I think I’m going to start praying,

“God, make me more like an atheist.”

#mykindachurch is a project of #decolonizelutheranism in partnership with Saying Grace. Learn more about #mykindachurch in our intro post here.

Like what you read? Give Elle Dowd a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.