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Ask the Patriarch 161
I felt as if I was just in another church.

from: Joshua Offenberger

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I've been an Agnostic since my teenage years and I created a facebook group called Agnostic's Are Not Atheist's. This is where I ran across the church. Although I enjoy the fact that there are other Agnostic's out there that are making it know there views on life I'm a bit confused on why you've put it into a church setting. I was wondering why you are looking at Agnosticism as a religion, or making it to be one I suppose. I guess my main complaint is while I was looking at the site I felt as if I was just in another church. Since when does a standpoint of not knowing of a god consist of Ministers?

The Patriarch replies:


I'm sorry the web site made you feel you were in just another church. In my opinion, the vast majority of articles on this site are independent of organizational implications. It's too bad you feel differently.

Over the years I have been doing this, there have been a number of people who have objected to this operation being called a church. Somehow the word "church" seems to be controversial. Even the Pope has recently added to the controversy by proclaiming that Protestant denominations are not "real" churches. But no-one owns the word, not even the Pope; and as I wrote back in Ask the Patriarch 71, we can legitimately be called a church.

Interestingly, more people have written who would like to see our Apathetic Agnostic Church act more like a church than there have been those who would like us to drop the term. Some just want to go to get together in a meeting place with other agnostics, such as the previous writer. Unfortunately, we are not 'churchlike" enough to help these individuals. Then there are those who want an agnostic cleric to officiate at an agnostic ceremony to celebrate one of life's passages. Because we do ordinations, we can help in this area - even in the case of marriage. Our clergy are authorized to perform weddings in most jurisdiction in the US. Not believing in a deity should not disqualify people from celebrating with a ceremony.

Obviously, we do not have to be a church. We are organized as a church because it amused me to call it The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic when I first set up the web site. And the name amuses me still. It's a constant reminder not to take myself overly seriously.

We remain organized as a church simply because it works. This is the largest and most successful Agnostic web site that I am aware of. Part of that success is due to the name - it's an attention grabber, like it or not. And it draws people into the the site.

I don't claim this is the only way to promote agnosticism - others are free to promote agnosticism in whichever way they please. You have chosen to do so through a Facebook group and that's fine. Even though I think the name you have selected for your group will make some agnostics feel unwelcome, some grammatically offended, and others simply disinterested in your approach, I'm not going to tell you that you are doing things the wrong way . Rather, I wish you success amongst those you do appeal to. I'll even add you to our links page, if you want to provide me with the URL. (link added 20 July 2007 and link added to the question above at the same time)