NEWS OF THE WEIRD

Even Atheists Can Go to Church

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An atheist "church" in Lake Charles, La., run by lapsed Pentecostal Jerry DeWitt, conducts periodic services with many of the trappings expected by the pious — except for the need to believe in a supreme being. Such "churches" (reported The New York Times and Washington Post in coincidental stories the same day in June) can help soothe the "biological" needs for survival and avoidance of loneliness by congregational rituals (such as celebrating a sabbath) and in helping find meaning "in something other than [oneself]." For example, atheist Sigfried Gold praised a "rigorous prayer routine" (beseeching a "vivid goddess he created") in overcoming his weight problem.

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