Why I Joined the Humanist Church

Shannon Kristine Croft


I first attended church at age 7, when I was in 2nd grade.   It was Episcopal church on Palm Sunday.   The cross was covered with purple cloth, incense was burned and additional acolytes were brought in.  We each were given palms to carry as we sang "All Glory Laud and Honor".  We then marched outside and around the block still singing and holding our palms high, stopping traffic while several hundred people crossed the street.   After coming back to the church we laid our palms down in the main aisle and a few people went up front read parts from a script about Jesus' crucifiction.  The rest of the congregation were to play the part of the "angry mob"  shouting out "Crucify him!" at the appropriate times.  I did not understand any of it and really felt scared about the whole thing.  Then came time for the children to have communion and go to Sunday school.  I went up where the other children were kneeling communion and was given a wafer "This is the body of Christ".   I was horrified!  They wanted me to eat someones BODY?  I hid the wafer in my hand.  We drank a sip of wine "This is the blood of Christ".  Then we went upstairs to the Sunday school rooms.  I let the wafer slip out of my hand as we were walking up the steps.  

Several months later in Sunday School, our teacher wanted us to learn one of the stories of the Bible.   While he began to teach us 2 large men burst into the room, grabbed him and took him away.  Being new to the church I didn't recognize them.  One at a time they came back for us children.  I was the second one to be taken.  They blindfolded me and told me to take my shoes off.  I was so scared I did as they said.  I was taken into another room and told to stand into what they told me was a pile of snakes.  I could feel something under my feet and did not move.  The men began shouting "Why do you love Jesus?"  I was so scared I did not speak at all, when they questioned me further I almost started crying.  It turned out I was only stepping on potato chips and the whole thing was a joke.  I have not since been able to find any similar stories in the Bible.  

These were my first impressions of church.  My family attended church sporadicly for many years.  As I got older, I attended mostly for social reasons.  Joining the youth group, choir etc.  I looked forward to the church outings and picnics but always felt like an outsider.    I still feel that way around church-goers, especially here in Texas where perfect strangers have walked up to me and asked "What church y'all go to?"   

  I recently came across some interesting statistics while looking at Internet news.  According to a Gallup poll 90% of Americans believe in God.   With statistics like that, it's hard not to feel like an outsider!   

Results vary.  Another survey from Harris Interactive showed many other things.  That belief in God varies widely among different segments of the American public.  According to this poll  79% believe in God but only 66% are absolutely sure.  9% said there is no God and 12% aren't sure.    Belief in God is stronger in the mid-west and southern states (82%) versus 75% on the east and west coast.  

84% of women believe vs. 73% of men

87% of Republicans vs. 78% of Democrats and 75% of independents

82% of those who had no college vs. 73% of those who went to college.

An ABC news poll regarding the Bible stories,

61% of Americans believe that the story of creation of the earth in 7 days is literally true as it is written in Genesis.

60% believe Noah's ark

64% believe the parting of the Red Sea by Moses to escape the Egyptians.

Another Harris poll showed that 95% believe in Heaven

and 93% believe in the virgin birth of Christ.

Not everyone who calls himself Christian or Jew believes in God.  10% of Protestants, 21% of Roman Catholics, and 54% of Jews do not believe in God.

This I understand.  From the very start of my own religious teachings I felt something was wrong but when continuing to attend church all my life it is very hard to change my way of thinking, especially without feeling scared or guilty.    Also, as a parent I am trying to teach my children what some people would call Christian values, such as "Do not lie, cheat or steal"    Not because you will be punished by God or even the law, but because these things are wrong for ethical reasons.  Of course as I get older and meet more people I have met many Christians who lie, cheat and steal!  In fact some of the most horrible things I have seen/heard have been from Christian families or church.

But what about those, like us who try to follow a code of ethics but feel alone in their beliefs?  I believe that's where the Humanist church can help.  Our church community is a place where members don't have to keep their feelings a secret.  Our children won't be told empty promises or other religions but rather be taught that individuals can make a difference.

I recently watched some of a T.V. show about Galileo, the great scientist and mathematician.  

The show stated that at first many people did not believe his theories about the earth and universe.  They thought he was crazy to suggest that the Earth was moving at all times.   But in the end his theories were proven to be correct.  That's sort of how I feel about people's belief in God.  Much the same way people thought the world was flat and learned that it is round, they will also learn that their belief in God is wrong.  

In this day people are classified into believers and non-believers.  To be a non-believer around here is not a good thing.  It means being whispered about, judged and looked down on.  I have visions of a world in the future where those words have different meanings and to be a non-believer means living a happy productive ethical  life, helping to improve the world and being free from guilt brought on by religion.   Believers will be the ones who will be considered a little different.  So while people are being sorted out now, I know which side I want to be on.