'Where was God in Aurora?' comments show Internet as church for atheists
By DAN GILGOFF - CNN
Added: Thu, 02 Aug 2012 17:16:35 UTC
Some atheists may ask questions on the Internet that they wouldn't have asked in church.
The Internet has become the de facto global church for atheists, agnostics and other doubters of God, who of course don’t have bricks-and-mortar churches in which to congregate.
We see this phenomenon in motion every day on the CNN Belief Blog, where atheists/agnostics/humanists are among the most zealous commenters.
Recent string of posts around the question of “Where was God in Aurora?” (such as this and this) drew especially large waves of comments that show atheists are using the Internet to commune with one another and to confront religious believers in ways that they don’t usually do in church.
Atheists and other secularists have offline organizations that stage in-person meetings – the Secular Student Alliance has seen its number of campus chapters quadruple in the last five years, to 368 – but the Internet has probably played a bigger role in the rise of the so-called New Atheism. The movement’s adherents evangelize their godlessness, just as many religious folks evangelize their God, often taking to the Belief Blog to do so.
“A lot of millennials who are coming of age have found that the Internet is a fantastic place to talk about their doubt,” says Jesse Galef, communications director for the Secular Student Alliance. “Before the Internet, there was no place for young people to do that. The only place to go was really church, and that wasn’t always a welcoming place.
“But they can go online and discuss these ideas without being judged by friends and families,” Galef says.
For closeted atheists, the Internet’s anonymity is a big draw. A coalition of national atheist groups recently launched a program to transition doubting clergy to lives of open atheism by first having ministers come out anonymously in a closed online community.
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