For Korey Peters, deconverting from Christianity to atheism opened a new set of doors - the doors to Calgary's first atheist church.
The unusual idea that grew into Calgary's atheist congregation came to the former Christian when he realized he longed for the sense of community and guidance that comes from being part of a church. But what he didn't miss was all the "the horror, ignorance and superstition," wrote Peters in a guest blog for thinkbig.com.
In 2006, Peters was in the process of leaving behind his fundamentalist Christian beliefs when he moved to the U.K. with his wife. He made good on an off-the-cuff promise he had previously vowed to her -- if they moved overseas he would join her in singing in a church choir.
"We were quickly integrated into the most lovely group of people you'd ever want to meet. I'd never had such an enjoyable time at church! When we returned home (Calgary), we began attending a local Anglican church and singing in the choir there. Here I was, a recent atheist now attending church more than I had when I was a Christian."
All of this got Peters thinking: Why couldn't atheists have a church, too?
"I began to miss the church experience myself...and I thought 'Oh, it would be a good idea to have a church for the non-religious,'" Peters said in a recent interview with HuffPost Live.
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In this Sept. 9, 2010 photo, a billboard erected by atheists in Oklahoma City reads " Don't believe in God? Join the club". Nick Singer, the coordinator of a local atheists' group called "Coalition of Reason," recently received $5,250 from its national counterpart to erect the billboard along Interstate 44 near the Oklahoma State Fair. Oklahoma ranks eighth in the nation for percentage of residents who self-identify as Christians (85 percent), according to an analysis of the 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life. (Sue Ogrocki, AP)
Atheist billboard on Capital Blvd. in Raleigh, North Carolina, can be seen March 29, 2011. (Chris Seward, Raleigh News & Observer / MCT)
A billboard sponsored by an atheist group is displayed near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in North Bergen, N.J., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010. Now, the Catholic League has countered by putting up its own billboard near one of the tunnel's New York City entrances. (Seth Wenig, AP)
An atheistic billboard in Chicago. (Eric Ingrum, Flickr)
A billboard sponsored by a Catholic group is displayed near an exit of the Lincoln Tunnel in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010. Similarly, a billboard sponsored by an atheist group is displayed near the tunnel's New Jersey entrance. (Seth Wenig, AP)
From RNS' Diana Fishlock: A billboard erected in one of the Harrisburg, Pa.'s most racially diverse neighborhoods featured an African slave with the biblical quote, "Slaves, obey your masters." It lasted less than a day before someone tore it down.
An atheist group was blocked from erecting a billboard in a heavily Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.
His idea stewed for several years, but in the spring of 2012 a conversation with a co-worker put the wheels in motion.
Peters' colleague's wife was pregnant and wanted to start attending church once the baby was born to ensure the child grew up learning the difference between right and wrong.
"I thought, 'Oh, that seems like a terrible idea to me. If only I would have started my church they would have a better place to go because they're not religious at all, and yet they're sort of thinking of taking their child to church to learn right and wrong.'" Peters told HuffPost Live.
"They needed the atheist church I had been planning," he wrote in his blog post.
Emails to a fellow atheist followed and the following week Peters met with a friend to found The Calgary Secular Church.
Their first meeting was in a pastry shop.
The Calgary Secular Church has a moral and ethical framework that is open to challenge. Their fundamental framework is taken from Universal Utilitarianism.
Their constitution is based on four articles: 1. Minimize real and potential suffering and maximize real and potential happiness, 2. Sustainability, 3. Build a durable local culture and 4. Build a durable global culture.
"The CSC provides a place where people who want to be ethical can benefit from the work of others in this area, where every little thing doesn't become an ordeal of self-analysis," Peters wrote.The group meets on the first Sunday of each month at the Green Fools Theatre Company, according to their Facebook page.