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dawn2k1's avatar

Do you think someone can believe in God and not go to church?

Asked by dawn2k1 (134points) January 10th, 2010

I am asking this question because I would like to know how others view someone like I who doesn’t attend Church Regularly. I mean I go to church for the big things but mostly I stay home on Sunday and read the Good Book. I send my children to church because I want them to be able to have that choice and Knowledge that I can not give them.

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44 Answers

avvooooooo's avatar

Being religious and being spiritual are two different things. Neither is really better than the other.

Confuscious's avatar

Yes. I believe in God, but don’t go to church.

poisonedantidote's avatar

totally possible. you will be hard pushed to find a deist that attends any church, they all believe in a god.

even if you are a theist you can still believe in a god and not go to church.

Staalesen's avatar

while not being religous, I remember one thing my mother told me.

Its better to spend a sunday in the fields, thinking about god, then a sunday in church thinking about the crops in the field.

Sounds a bit more flowing in norwegian, but I like the expression.

dawn2k1's avatar

I really Like that train of thought. thank you

jackm's avatar

yes you certainly can.

chian's avatar

I am not religious at all, rather i would say i was more spiritual…I believe in a something higher bit not neccasarily “God”. I Live in Greece and there are over 1000 churches just on the island i grew up in every summer. I often go in one of them and light a candle for different people, usually family members that i feel may need some help. However i also am very interested in Buddhism and have read many books on that, so n i dont belive one must believe in God if they go t church or believe in one specific God. I love the smell, feeling, and quietness of certain churches, hey i even love checking them out when i am travelling to see the different types of religions etc!

Nullo's avatar

It’s perfectly possible. According to tradition, St. Patrick spent two or three years out in the fields herding sheep. No church for literally hundreds of miles in any direction.

daemonelson's avatar

I know a fair few people who believe in god and don’t go to church. Come to think of it, I know more people who believe in a god, and dislike organised religion to the point of spontaneous combustion, than otherwise.

I really don’t see why it’s necessary. Comparing clothes once a week, now that’s a test of faith.

gemiwing's avatar

God is everywhere, therefore we can worship and be with him any place we like.

Jack79's avatar

Anyone who really believes in God should stay away from Churches, tele-evangelists and all those charlatans who try to make a profit in His name.

SABOTEUR's avatar


My wife and I were in the same position, though she attends church more than I do.
I don’t go all all.

The kids attend church, not because we make them, but because they want to go.

prasad's avatar

Yes. Here in India, it holds true for temples too.
Going to Church, creates good feelings in us, that’s why we should go. If someone is fallen in love with God, everywhere is Church (or God) for him/her!

zookeeny's avatar

Your question made me wonder – Can you go to church if you dont believe in God? I have often thought it would be nice to go so I can meet people and intergrate more with my community but I dont believe in God so can you still go to church and maybe say you are trying to learn to try and believe in God?

dawn2k1's avatar

I don’t think that you should go to church and say your trying to believe in god if you don’t or are not trying..

tb1570's avatar

If I sought god or a feeling of connection with some higher power, the last place I would go is a modern church.

dawn2k1's avatar

@zookeeny, I believe that going to church is for God. Its to let him know your there. That is why I posed my question. Because I do believe in God but I don’t like going to church all the time. To me when I go to church it feels more like a social gathering and the 15 minutes of worship. where the social gathering is 2 hours. I don’t know .

zookeeny's avatar

Well arent you supposed to “find God”? Lots of people speak about having found God and so on. I figure the best place to find him is in a church ‘his house?’

@dawn2k1 Maybe that is what is important about church – the social gathering. It is what people feel attached to and warmed by. Maybe that is the value of coming together in the name of a God. Do you enjoy the social element? If so then I think that is value enough to go. If not then I guess how you find the connection you have with God is up to you and has to sit comfortably with you – otherwise it wouldnt be a fullfilling spiritual experience it would be akin to torcher and well I dont think that is a purposful feeling to have about something you are choosing (or is choosing you – however you see it).

dawn2k1's avatar

@zookeeny If your looking for him that is the best place to find him. I also understand some people only do go to church for the social gatherings. I on the other hand prefer to attend only worship services. But I guess that is why we have a choice. You asked a question and I answered it honestly according to my values and beliefs. I am sorry if this upset you.

gemiwing's avatar

@zookeeny I would recommend Unity Church for you. It’s different and is generally more encouraging towards its members having differing views on God.

zookeeny's avatar

@dawn2k1 whoa no you didnt upset me at all!! I am enjoying the conversation. I was more thinking you were worrying that you were not doing something right by not going to church and I didnt think you should feel bad! Sorry I can get pretty intense with my answers. I tend to have thought lots about things before I have even come across questions on here then when I pick a question to answer I tend to pour out a load of extra unrelated stuff that I have been churning over in my mind!! – I have also always been terrible at essay assignments because I never answer the question I only form more and more questions!!

So no you didnt upset me at all. Its a valid question. Its all good :)

dawn2k1's avatar

LOL… I know what you mean about that. Things are always running through my mind and I have the hardest time trying to say exactly what it is I want to say. Thank You very much.. I really enjoy speaking with someone who has different views than mine because it lets me get a different look at things Thanks.

torch81's avatar

From a Christian perspective, going to church isn’t going to make a difference in what happens when you die. However, I would say that it could have a big impact on how you live. At its core, Christianity is a relational faith, with a relational God. We were not meant to try to live lives of faith on our own. Instead, we are given the gift of other people to walk this faith journey with us.

I’m not really in a position to tell people how to live their lives, but I think that Christians will find their faith strengthened through the regular gathering together with other believers.

Qingu's avatar

I bet most people who go to church in Western countries don’t believe in the specific god that their church is promoting.

Most Westerners have this pantheist/clockmaker conception of God that really has nothing to do with the dude in the Bible, Yahweh.

wundayatta's avatar

Of course you can.

I think what you’re really asking is whether it is hypocritical to send your kids when you don’t go. Well, you send your kids to school (I hope) and you don’t go. Church is just another kind of school, albeit, the teachings of most Churches is much more pernicious.

Anyway, you can be sure that any harm you may do your children will not come from your apparent hypocrisy. You may safely continue with what you’re doing. God will neither condemn nor praise you for it.

Qingu's avatar

@dawn2k1, sending your kids to church doesn’t help give them a “choice.” It’s a form of brainwashing.

The purpose of church isn’t to present evidence for the religion so people can make an informed decision about whether or not to believe in it. The purpose is to draw you in with rituals and social pressure.

If you really wanted to help your kids make a choice, you’d take them to a church, a mosque, a synagogue, a Buddhist temple, a Hindu temple, and a Scientologist meeting, along with any other religious gatherings in your local area. At least that way the pressure would be fairly distributed.

higherground's avatar

Going to church does not make you a Christian, just like going into a garage does not make you a car .

At the end of the day, it is all in the heart .

dawn2k1's avatar

@qingu, where I a from there is none of those things only the small town churches, How would I find out where they might be?

Qingu's avatar

What’s the nearest big city? If you ever take a trip there and are actually interested in doing this, it shouldn’t be too hard to find such places. Just try googling “Scientology (city name)” or “Buddhist temple (city name)”

nicobanks's avatar

Sure, absolutely someone can believe in God but not go to Church. Like me! And like you, apparently.

Church is a specific thing. I mean, yes there are non-denominational “inclusive” churches, but all the same a church supports and disseminates a specific theology, specific ideas about God and God’s relationship with humanity. If you don’t believe in those specifics, that doesn’t mean you don’t believe in anything!

Also, church provides a religious community. A lot of people benefit greatly from participating in a religious community. Other people, not so much. If you don’t benefit from a religious community—maybe you’re a solitary type, or maybe you have another community that you participate in and that fulfils you—that doesn’t mean you don’t believe in God!

I think it’s good of you to send your children to church because it does give them a certain access to this tradition which presumably is in your family. I don’t think church is necessarily a form of brainwashing. If you encourage your children to think for themselves, then exposure is not brainwashing!

CMaz's avatar

We are the temple of God.

Qingu's avatar

@nicobanks, I have yet to see a religious service that isn’t brainwashing on some level.

Imagine you’re five years old and you go to this place. Everyone stands up on command and sits down on command. The leader—the priest, minister, rabbi, imam, whatever—has utmost authority that even supersedes your parents. Everyone listens to this man (and it’s almost always a man)—shouldn’t you, too?

And if you’re old enough to understand what the service is about, some of the first ideas you encounter in life are heaven and hell, or whatever carrot/stick the religion employs. Obedience means you get rewarded. Disobedience means you suffer, in many cases for all eternity.

None of this is presented rationally, or taught based on evidence like in school. It’s just asserted with a heavy cloak of ritual and authority. And for young kids it’s a powerful form of mind-control. There are lots of adults who stopped believing in religion but still have psychological problems letting go of the threats and rituals drilled into them on an emotional level at an early age.

I think there are better, more objective ways for kids to learn about religions than being forced to actively participate in them.

Nullo's avatar

I dunno if you’d necessarily call it brainwashing any more than you would learning any other set of rules or customs or the like. It’s instruction. Try explaining to a five-year-old why it’s okay to turn right on a red light but not left.

The actual experience (which you try to overgeneralize) varies widely from place to place. You might look into the various denominations of Protestantism, or the Evangelical movement, sometime.

nicobanks's avatar

@Qingu I think at 5 years old, no one has authority that supersedes your parents. Sure, there are other authorities: teachers, babysitters, older siblings and other relatives, and yes, religious authorities too—but when you are that young, who punishes you? Your parents. Who makes every single final decision in your life, about treats, punishments, norms, everything? Who loves you and has loved you for as long as you remember? Your parents.

And it’s the parents’ job to mediate the outside world for their children. If a parent can’t do that, forget not sending them to church: you can’t send the poor things out the door, because immediately when you do they are exposed to, let’s be frank, terrible realities about the world! Disgusting, perverse, destructive things. The media, other children, people in general, institutions, all of it! A parent can’t rely on other resources being good for their children: they have to teach their children how to approach the world. If they can do that for anything, they can do it for religion.

It doesn’t matter what carrots the priest holds before them, or if the ideas taught are rational or not, or how authoritatively they’re expressed: none of that is relevant because it’s no different from anything else. It comes down to the parents talking to their kids—and not just to talking to, but asking, conversing, to see their kids’ responses to the world and to gently nudge those responses into the correct position.

There are two ways to learn about a thing: immersion, and secondary-source study. There are benefits and drawbacks to both. Some people prefer one, some the other. It’s okay that we disagree, but I think you are making two errors:

(1) over-representing the power of organized religion (I’m not saying there isn’t power there and that there haven’t been systemic abuses of power since the dawn of time, but I am saying there is personal responsibility involved, personal agency, that you’re not taking into account); and

(2) under-representing the authoritative and influential forces of the rest of society. Religion has done some bad things but what about capitalism? The North American media? Patriarchy? So on and so forth. Either we let our children out the front doors or we don’t: religion isn’t different from anything else, IMO.

And I agree with Nullo that you are generalizing.

CMaz's avatar

Matthew 6:5

SABOTEUR's avatar

Damn good answer, @nicobanks! BRAVO!

Irishmar's avatar

Yes, absolutely. I find God in nature, not church.

Nullo's avatar

For many, church is more about fellowship.

The_Idler's avatar

“I send my children to church because I want them to be able to have that choice and Knowledge that I can not give them.”@dawn2k1

Wow, it’s great how you can use religion as a crutch for your own deficiencies in parenting.

I guess it’s too bad; being non-religious, I’ll have to teach my children about the world myself.

At least they will end up with balanced and appropriate moral- and world- views, as opposed to, say, violent, sexist, anti-intellectual and plain ridiculous religious views.

Guess that’s just the pros & cons

daemonelson's avatar

@The_Idler You are my favourite person for the day.

candide's avatar

by all means – the two are not mutually exclusive

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