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Ask the Patriarch 71
Why are you called a "church."

from Constance Braithwaite

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Since the begining of my ability to understand concepts, I have always considered myself to be agnostic and I find myself very much in tune with the beliefs of Apathetic Agnostics.

The one thing I don't understand is why the organization is called a "church", particularly considering the dictionary definition of church. Just a curosity.

I am very happy to have found your site.

The Patriarch replies:


Thank you for your comments.

From the start, the name of The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic has been questioned. Most often, people take great pains to point out that we are not "Apathetic," "Church" comes in second, and the rare individual tries to prove that we are not "Agnostic.

Interestingly, neither "Universal" nor "Triumphant" have been questioned by anyone to date. I could probably do a reasonable job of defending the first, but might have to stretch to justify the latter.

But why "Church?"

This is most often queried by Christians who believe they own the word, but as the word can be traced back to the Greek of the sixth century BC, I question their exclusive ownership even though there is a long-standing relationship.

Depending on which dictionary you use, there are various and multiple definitions of "church"

Looking at Encarta World Dictionary (St Martin's Press 1999) we find at definition 5:

"all the followers of a religion, especially the Christian religion."

While the word church is "especially" used by Christians, it is not theirs uniquely. Anyone can use it.

So if we consider Apathetic Agnosticism a religion, then it is appropriate to consider all the followers of Apathetic Agnosticism, as a group, to be a church.

So is Apathetic Agnosticism a religion?

Again, looking at Encarta World Dictionary for the definition of religion:

1. people's beliefs and opinions concerning the existence, nature and worship of a deity or deities, and divine involvement in the universe and human life; 2. a particular institutionalized or personal system of beliefs and practices relating to the divine; 3. a set of strongly held beliefs, values, and attitudes that somebody lives by.

In my view, Apathetic Agnosticism is consistent with all three of these definitions. There is no belief required in "the divine," just that opinions and beliefs be held about "the divine." Consequently, Apathetic Agnosticism can be considered a religion, and it is appropriate to consider all the followers of this religion to be a church.

But if you still don't like our use of the word "church" then remember the full name is "The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic." A little overblown isn't it? Perhaps you should just consider it a tongue-in-cheek designation.



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