Tips for Atheist Ministers Performing a Wedding

Here are a few tips to consider if you plan on officiating an atheist wedding, ideas for what to say, and suggestions on what to avoid:

Know the law of the land

The anti-federalist spirit of America is alive and well in our nation’s marriage laws. Fifty states have produced fifty different standards, and sometimes they even differ on the county level. Before you agree to officiate a wedding, make certain that you fully understand your local laws. Call your local marriage licensing office to gain some insight and see what steps you need to take to help people get hitched.

In many states like Texas, Colorado, and Washington, all you need is your FCA minister title and your signature on the marriage license. However, more restrictive states require additional paperwork, including showing some sort of certificate, identification, or letter of good standing. States like Nevada require that you register with the state, and the application may take several weeks to process, so some due diligence is necessary for you atheist Elvis impersonators before your first Vegas wedding.

 

What the heck do I say?

In case you didn’t realize it when you decided to use your ordination, officiating a wedding requires public speaking. Hopefully, this is an activity that you are comfortable with already. (If not, you may want practice speaking in front of friends, family, and/or pets right away.) Preparing what to say during a wedding takes some careful planning, join the minister group Wedding Ceremony Ideas and check out the files section, Rev. Katherine Parks did a great job putting together a list of sources for ideas. Be sure to involve the bride and groom in this conversation. Ask them questions like, “How focused on atheism do you want the ceremony to be?”, “What ideas have you always wished for?” These open ended questions will give you more insight into what you need to incorporate into your presentation.

In the end, don’t stress out about the exact wording. Five years from now, few people will remember what you said during the ceremony, but rather how you said it and how you made them feel. Stand tall, use dramatic pauses, and make eye contact with as many people as possible. As the ceremony’s host, you hold the steering wheel of the crowd’s emotions. Make certain that you project the mood you want everyone to be in.

 

Represent the A-Team proudly

No pressure or anything, but you are a diplomat for the atheist community. We at the FCA know all of you atheist ministers are hip, fun, articulate people. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misgivings and myths about atheists. It is important to remember that we are an underrepresented minority in most public settings.

You don’t need to wear an armband to adequately declare your atheism. This event is not about you; it’s about the love of two people. If you are approached by wedding attendees after the ceremony, a good rule of thumb is to keep your religious affiliation secondary. However, if people ask where you were ordained, there is no need to conceal your affiliation; feel free to name drop the FCA. This might spark a civil dialogue with a person who knew nothing about atheism before.

Hopefully, you find these tips helpful as you prepare for your upcoming wedding. Many of you were asked to consecrate this event for a specific reason – most likely a close relationship with the bride and/or groom. You are a part of a chosen few. Relish in this unique opportunity to help two people express their love, because it is a moment that you won’t soon forget.

How can I help the FCA?

Help support the FCA by heading to our online store now.

What better way to demonstrate your official title as an atheist minister than an ID card to carry in your wallet or a Certificate of Ordination to proudly hang on your wall? (In fact, if you buy both, you get a discount.) As a community, the more that we can do to show off our status as ministers, the better our chances of gaining more complete acceptance and attracting new members.

Encourage your friends and family to get ordained today!

Becoming ordained online is a free and simple way to join an emerging community of like-minded religious skeptics. As more people become comfortable in expressing their atheism, the FCA continues to offer a virtual sanctuary for this growing community of non-believers. It’s important to send a simple message: You are not alone in your skepticism.

For all of those who have already supported the First Church of Atheism, we offer our heartfelt gratitude. We wouldn’t be where we are without you. We encourage you to keep up the good work that you do. You are proof that science and reason can make our world a better place.

The Dragon In My Garage

The Dragon In My Garage
by
Carl Sagan

“A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage”

Suppose (I’m following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you’d want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity!

“Show me,” you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle–but no dragon.

“Where’s the dragon?” you ask.

“Oh, she’s right here,” I reply, waving vaguely. “I neglected to mention that she’s an invisible dragon.”

You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon’s footprints.

“Good idea,” I say, “but this dragon floates in the air.”

Then you’ll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire.

“Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless.”

You’ll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible.

“Good idea, but she’s an incorporeal dragon and the paint won’t stick.”

And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won’t work.

Now, what’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there’s no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I’m asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so.

The only thing you’ve really learned from my insistence that there’s a dragon in my garage is that something funny is going on inside my head. You’d wonder, if no physical tests apply, what convinced me. The possibility that it was a dream or a hallucination would certainly enter your mind. But then, why am I taking it so seriously? Maybe I need help. At the least, maybe I’ve seriously underestimated human fallibility.

Imagine that, despite none of the tests being successful, you wish to be scrupulously open-minded. So you don’t outright reject the notion that there’s a fire-breathing dragon in my garage. You merely put it on hold. Present evidence is strongly against it, but if a new body of data emerge you’re prepared to examine it and see if it convinces you. Surely it’s unfair of me to be offended at not being believed; or to criticize you for being stodgy and unimaginative– merely because you rendered the Scottish verdict of “not proved.”

Imagine that things had gone otherwise. The dragon is invisible, all right, but footprints are being made in the flour as you watch. Your infrared detector reads off-scale. The spray paint reveals a jagged crest bobbing in the air before you. No matter how skeptical you might have been about the existence of dragons–to say nothing about invisible ones–you must now acknowledge that there’s something here, and that in a preliminary way it’s consistent with an invisible, fire-breathing dragon.

Now another scenario: Suppose it’s not just me. Suppose that several people of your acquaintance, including people who you’re pretty sure don’t know each other, all tell you that they have dragons in their garages–but in every case the evidence is maddeningly elusive. All of us admit we’re disturbed at being gripped by so odd a conviction so ill-supported by the physical evidence. None of us is a lunatic. We speculate about what it would mean if invisible dragons were really hiding out in garages all over the world, with us humans just catching on. I’d rather it not be true, I tell you. But maybe all those ancient European and Chinese myths about dragons weren’t myths at all.

Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they’re never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself. On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon’s fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such “evidence”–no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it–is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.
-Carl Sagan

P.S. (From the FCA) EXACTLY!!!!! For fucks sake.

Catastrophe Strikes

I’m sorry to announce that we have had our first catastrophe here at the First Church of Atheism.

We had a database error that deleted almost all of our minister list and profiles. We have a system in place that backs up all changes to the database every 24 hours. It saves everything to a separate hard drive, in a different computer, in a completely different location. Until now, we thought the system was near foolproof. We didn’t discover until too late that our back up hard drive went bad. It was saving the changes, but the information that was saved is unreadable. Completely corrupt and useless. The unfortunate consequence of this is that we no longer have a complete list of our ordained ministers, and almost everyone’s profile has been deleted.

What does this mean for our ministers?

This means that almost everyone ordained needs to resubmit their information via the ordainment page. To find out if your ordination is one of the ones that was deleted, simply attempt to log in. If it works, than you are one of the lucky ones, and you don’t need to do anything else.

If you are not able to log then you need to resubmit your ordination. Please enter your information exactly as it was when you were first ordained, and hit the “Ordain Me” button. If you had made changes to your profile, like uploading a picture, you will need to do it again, as all of the information is lost.

We’re very sorry, and are currently fixing the problems with our back up system. I am pretty sure this will never happen again. I wish I could blame it on god, but the truth is that we just should have checked our back up drive more frequently. If you know anyone who is ordained with us, please let them know what happened and direct them to this page. Thanks.

First Church of Atheism opens a church in Second Life!

We took the plunge and built a church over in Second Life. It’s small but nice, with a modern feel about it. Details on how to find us at the bottom of this article.

For those who don’t know. Second Life is a thriving online simulated world. Complete with land ownership, currency, creation/purchase/sale of objects, and of course interaction with other live online people. Millions of people and organizations have established themselves on Second Life, some sell real world or in game objects to make an actual living! You should check it out.

While playing is free, to buy land in SL costs money, real money. Objects and buildings cost money, too. Obviously we can’t afford some big sprawling estate, but we did get a nice piece of land, in a beautiful area, with a very sleek little building for our church. There is a limit on the number of objects (buildings included) a given size property can hold, so the small building actually works out great.

So come check us out! There is a globe on our reception desk that you can click to instant message with me even if we’re not on SL at the time! Give me some ideas for improvements. Join our group, if you’re an ordained minister here, send me a message when you join the group and I’ll upgrade your level in the group from Member to Minister. you get a few extra privileges, like sending group notices, etc.

How to find us:
My Name: Reverend Baxton
Land: First Church of Atheism
Location: Dowden (193,97,64)
Group: First Church of Atheism