Can an atheist be a proud Secular Christian?

By Admin 4 months ago

Thomas Jefferson had an interesting hobby. In his spare time, he would use a razor to cut out the things in the bible that were said to be spoken by Jesus and didn't contain religious hocus pocus. He called it "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth" or what's now called the "Jeffersonian Bible". As Jefferson was a strong advocate for the separation of the Church and State, he was interested in what could be consider common ground between believers and non-believers like himself. Jefferson saw value in the teaching and wrote, "A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."

For me, as someone who grew up in a devote Christian household, I spent a decade hearing stories and parables attributed to Jesus. When I later left the faith, I was often hostile to religion for the wrongs I perceived it did on me and on millions throughout history. However, as I've grown older and especially in recent years, I am more aware that I did benefit from the experience especially in how to treat those who disagree with me or could be consider enemies. The concepts of "love your enemies", "turn the other cheek", and "take care of others outside your tribe (good Samaritan)", while obviously not exclusive to Christianity, were taught to me in a Christian context. The phrase "Be like Jesus" or "What would Jesus do?" are shorthand reminders for me to try to be a better person... and something that to be proud of.

What do you think?

Can an atheist be a proud Secular Christian?

  • 11 votes
  • 21 votes
  • 3 votes
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of this website or its members.

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I say absolutely one can be atheist, secular and still follow the basic principals found in the teachings of Jesus, thus considering themselves a Christian. More fundamental Chrstians would certainly disagree due to their belief in a Supernatural God and the designation of Jesus having been his son, but for those who do not believe in a deity, it fits together quite logically. I have read the Jefferson Bible and found it to be a relevant piece of work in encouraging that there is no need for a God in order to be a 'good human'. Whether or not Jesus actually existed, the teachings abscribed to him are rather unarguably a good set of precepts to follow if one seeks to be a kind, compassionate, forgiving human that has a positive and mindful impact on his fellow earth dwellars. One can simply view him among many wise teachers that came before our time and provided a guide to what is now more along the lines of a humanistic view on life, once all the dogma inherent in a belief in a God is removed. Simply because we have morphed those teachings into the supernatural and diety driven force of moralism that we now see in most religions, doesn't necessarily make the wisdom itself irrelevant.


I learned a lot more about being moral from seeing what the adults around me did for others - regardless of religious affiliations - than what I ever saw/heard in a church.

Frankly I think we can find far better ways of 'being' in present times without believing in the make believe (we have no proof Jesus actually existed and wasn't actually an amalgam of prior gods).


TST has some lovely tenets without being religious in the least (they're an atheist organization):
(BTW - These tenets require zero magical thinking - and not a lot of memorization to figure out what might lead to a better life for everyone).

There are The Seven

I One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason

II The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.

III Oneโ€™s body is inviolable, subject to oneโ€™s own will alone.

IV The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo one's own.

V Beliefs should conform to one's best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one's beliefs.

VI People are fallible. If one makes a mistake, one should do one's best to rectify it and resolve any harm that might have been caused.

VII Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

It's good to have rules and tools to help one be the best version of themselves. Good comment ๐Ÿ™‚


Secular is defined as values which are without any religious basis. Calling someone a secular Christian is like calling someone an ethical bank robber.

The universal value of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is present in almost every known religion. I still remember and Episcopal friend of mine that we helped clean up her yard after a bad ice storm telling everyone that Kenneth and I were the best christians she had ever known and she knew I was an atheist. She meant it as a compliment but you cannot be a secular Christian. You can be and ethical atheist though.

Ethical hackers exist and so do ethical bank robbers. Their job is to try and break into a bank, with the banks knowledge, in order to test their security systems. And if they can break it, the bank is happy in it's security

In analogy, a secular christian could be a person who tries to break the Christian ideology to find flaws in it and if they can't break it, are satisfied that that ideology is a sound one.

Just a thought...

Interesting comment! If someone did 50 things that required a good set of ethics and then robbed a bank, are they then an unethical person? Or would they be mostly-ethical? It is obviously easier to be proud of someone who has a perfect ethical score... but is that too high of a standard? If you have kids who are good 95% of the time, can you still be proud of them?

@Admin Ethical person that robs a bank is just a bank robber which is not an ethical act.

Children that are good 95% of the time are miracles. Regardless of the percentage blood is thicker than water and almost all children are basically good.

I think you're playing word games here and I think you know it. You're not a bank robber if you work for the bank testing security and don't steal anything (or intend to steal anything).

Let's pretend her analogy was 'ethical serial rapist'. She probably didn't feel the need to go that dark, but it seems to solidify her point. I personally don't think there are any number of 'good deeds' one can do to mitigate that.

Almost all children are just like almost all other types of people: basically bad. Have you seen how they behave to each other? And that's when they have to power, no needs they have to meet on their own, and generally no stressors. It is because of that, that I can completely agree that children who behave 95% of the time would be a reason to believe in miracles. ๐Ÿ˜

Ethical Hacking is a thing and so are Ethical Bank Robbers.
The latter may not be known by that term (the former are)
but they are part of what is known as a "penetration test" (which I'm sure has been the "butt" of many jokes).

This is where a bank tests their security system by having bank robbers trying to penetrate it... the same way that an online system would test their security by having hackers try to penetrate it

Wikipedia disagrees with you.

You disagree with me, not wikipedia. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I already said that the term ethical bank robber isn't in use but that I was using it in reference to ethical hacking which is in use.

In both cases, the "ethical" prefix denotes that what follows is normally wrong or illegal but is done with the permission of those that one is hacking or robbing as a means to test their system.

Look up "penetration tests" if you don't believe me...

@TheMiddleWay Ethical hacking may be a thing, no one said it wasn't. But I think her point was that robbing banks is not ethical. And "ethical bank robbing" isn't robbing a bank any more than killing someone in virtual reality is murder. You're adding a word to it which necessarily changes what the thing is. If I add 'vegan' in front of 'cheeseburgers' we're no longer talking about the same thing we were before.

Hacking, in it's raw form, isn't ethical either.
Yes, I am adding a word that necessarily changes the whole thing... that's how language works.

Hence adding ethical in front of bank-robbing modifies bank robbing...
... similar to how adding secular in front of Christian modifies Christian.

@TheMiddleWay So then he's not a bank robber he's an ethical-bank-robber. We are having major communication issues this evening. Look at what you said in your reply.

Yes, I am adding a word that necessarily changes the whole thing


Hence adding ethical in front of bank-robbing modifies bank robbing

Does it modify it, or does it necessarily change the whole thing? 'Cold' modifies soda, 'empty' completely changes it.

Am I the only one having problems seeing the quotes? They are all messed up on my screen...

"We are having major communication issues this evening"

I'm sorry to hear that my use of "ethical" as an adjective has led to so many communication issues.
Best drop it as we are getting nowhere.
Or maybe Fearless or Fern can explain it to you in a way I can't; I had no problems communicating this idea with them.

Nope. There must have been an update today because the reply button swirls now. @Admin aware of the quote box glitch?
Also, I missed the magazine thing. How does that all work? Do you have to submit something to be an article?
And is there a list that shows how to make all the text styles like bold and strike through?

How about it @FearlessFly @Fernapple? Can you figure this out for us?

@JeffMurray . . . until it was mentioned, I had been oblivious to the existence of the quote button ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
I haven't noticed anything odd about 'Reply'.
I have 'reported' "Report" not apparently working, and that I'm not getting expected alerts.

@FearlessFly Thank you for that info.

Any thoughts on calling someone a bank robber when their job is ethical-bank-robber?

@TheMiddleWay Those are not real bank robbers or real hackers.

@JeffMurray I would call them a 'pen tester'

@TheMiddleWay, @JeffMurray I Disagree that most children are bad or that most people are.
I think nvironment and socialization often creates so called bad actions in children. I had 2 children and I watched them navigate through their environment and the people they were exposed to. Yes I probably had an excuse for each of their bad actions but I still think that people are intrinsically good when given the opportunity.

No. Hence why we prefix them with "ethical" to distinguish them from "non-ethical" hackers and robbers.
And I'm not sure I ever said that most children or people are bad so not sure what that is in reference to...

Pen Testers is a valid term. But so is ethical hacker. All I'm doing is extending the "ethical" nomenclature to bank roberry. In and of itself, hacking nor bank robing are ethical. However, when prefixed with that term, they denote that the actions are the same, but the intent is different.

@TheMiddleWay But the intent and actions aren't the same. The intent of a bank robber is to steal money, the intent of the ethical version is to test security to defend against theft. The actions of a bank robber are to remove money, most often at the threat of harm or death, and keep that money as a source of income. The actions of the ethical version probably involve some similar characteristics, but without the permanent removal of funds for personal gain.

"But the intent and actions aren't the same"
Yes. I said exactly that.
I feel you are disagreeing just to disagree at this point, Jeff. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

A lot of people disagree with me on that, so I'm not surprised. I believe all people (including children) are intrinsically bad. People are selfish and greedy, and need only the right motivation and opportunity to reveal it. The more advantageous the bad act is and/or the less risk involved, the more likely any given person will take advantage. The "less badness" of a person is judged (by me) by how great the advantages and low the risk has to be before it motivates a bad act.

@TheMiddleWay NO YOU DIDN'T!! I'm not disagreeing just to disagree. You just said:

the actions are the same, but the intent is different.


I think if you had non-Christian parents they would have found other stories and phrases to instill the same values that you have now, you know, like the billions of families that aren't Christian that find a way to do it anyway. The idea that the Bible is a way of teaching morals and ethics or how to treat other people can only be assumed by a cursory reading of the book. Which explains why most Christians use it as such.

And maybe more importantly, the parents used their own moral compass to decide what in the Bible was something they should teach while likely leaving out all that inconvenient shit about killing your children or selling them into sexual slavery.


Secular Christian is an oxymoron. Sort like being a sensitive murderer.

Even the pope is a secular when he takes a shit. ๐Ÿ˜‰

@TheMiddleWay How do you know? Were you there when he did? Present your proof.

Simple deduction: a scientist isn't a scientist 100% of the time; a chef isn't a cook 100% of the time; ergo, a relgious person isn't religious 100% of the time and thus must be secular some of the time

@TheMiddleWay Ahh yes, BUT, you do not know if he is religious when taking a shit, now do you? He could be sitting on the crapper, lets loose with a really big, fat log, and as it exits the anus, says Ohhh God!!!. That is possible and as you would say, ergo he is being religious while taking a shit. (or more correctly put leaving a shit).

Shitting is not the point.
That people aren't 100% of one thing 100% of the time is the point.

@TheMiddleWay Yes it is the point, you are the one who made the statement!

@TheMiddleWay Does that mean then that the Pope believes that, if he dies while taking a shit, he won't go to heaven.

Clearly not.
My usage of secular (which is in line with common usage), as I explain in my response to this thread above, is based on action, on acting without accordance to religious belief. Hence praying, worship, reading the bible for answers, etc are non-secular. But driving a car, doing science, and yes, taking a shit, are secular.

Now, if prayer were required of every Christian to take a shit, then clearly taking a shit in non-secular. There is no such prescription in Christian belief for this to be so, even in the most evangelical or literal reading of the bible, and thus taking a shit is, to me, a secular activity and, by extension, the pope is at those moments a Secular Christian... still a Christian but not doing anything religious.

So clearly the pope's religious beliefs are constant... he doesn't stop being a Christian because he's taking a shit... but as clearly to me his actions can and often are secular, devoid of any implication, reference, or allusion to those religious beliefs.

@TheMiddleWay Sounds like a lot of BS, LOL. I make a point to never be an apologist for other religions.

You and I both.
I'm not apologizing for the pope or his beliefs; merely making a point that even the pope is not religious 100% of the time and thus can justifiably be called a Secular Christian on occasion.

@TheMiddleWay Good answer. But would the Pope agree with that, is it not a prime tenet of Christian theology, that every thing a Christian does is a Christian act.

I would argue that retroactively that may be true but not in that actual performance of the act.

Putting aside the scatological for a moment, it's true that many Christian scientists attribute their scientific pursuits to their religion... that they are uncovering god's majesty.. that their work is in the service of god... etc. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find a scientist who performs an experiment in a religious way... they will set up the equipment quite secularly, they will get results quite independent of the bible, and they will publish those reports in decidedly secular publications. Of course hard-pressed isn't impossible... witness Hamm and his creationism "science". To call him a scientist is a bit of a stretch (well, more than a bit IMO) but allowing for that judgement call of what is a scientist or not, even though he views all his "science" through the filter of the bible, he still performs the root experiments in a decidedly secular manner... it's just his retroactive interpretation that is off base.

So the pope may give thanks to god for a great bowel movement each an every time... but I'd be hard-pressed to believe that he is asking everyone to do the same or that everyone pray before taking a shit or that the act of shit moving through us is by the hand of god... but if it is, I sure hope god washes his hands after the fact!!!

@TheMiddleWay Yes thats alright, I understood, the last comment was just for fun. Good answer.

@TheMiddleWay @Fernapple
I think this is an argument about semantics here. Is a Christian who does some things in a secular way a Secular Christian ? Furthermore, if anyone or anything can be labeled a secular ___ simply because it/they have things that are done in a secular way does that not mean EVERYTHING is secular? And of course, if everything is secular, than the word is meaningless. (To me, it may even be more nonsensical than saying 'Everything is god'.)

Prayer is not secular. Reciting the bible in belief is not secular.
But I agree that the majority of a religious person's life is, in fact, secular.
That is literally what I've been saying all along here.

@TheMiddleWay No, but if a Christian (or the Pope as you used in your example) can be secular because they do some/most things in a secular way, then EVERYTHING is secular because most other people will do a similar number or more things that are secular. Therefore, if everyone can be a secular ____ than the word loses all meaning because it wouldn't differentiate anyone from anyone else.

You are making a hasty generalization.

There are very specific non-secular things, like going to church and prayer, acting on a belief in god and reading the Torah at temple.

Hence not everything is secular even if, as I argue, most things in life are.

@TheMiddleWay No, but if the Pope can be a secular Christian because he does things in a secular way, then EVERYBODY can be a secular whatever because they do things in a secular way. I don't understand what I'm saying that is not making sense to you...

I would never go so far as to call the pope a Secular Christian. My reference to the pope in this sub-thread, as better seen with Fernapple, is in response to being secular and being a christian are not oxymorons.

But as I explain in my original reply to this post, a Secular Christian to me is one that doesn't even believe in the godly nature of christianity (which clearly the pope does).

So to tie it all together, the pope is a Christian who acts secularly (as most people do) most of his life. But he is not a Secular Christian because he clearly lives his life in belief of the godly nature of Christ and furthermore engages in non-secular activities. As I explain in my original reply, it's not enough for a Christian to act secularly to be a Secular Christian... as I've said, most people act secularly most of the time. To be a Secular Christian (as I use the words) one must accept the teachings, but not the divinity, of Christianity.

I think this is why we were having a miscommunication:

and thus taking a shit is, to me, a secular activity and, by extension, the pope is at those moments a Secular Christian

This is why I said if the Pope can be considered a secular Christian, everyone can be considered a secular whatever they are, because you said the Pope could be a secular Christian at any given moment he is doing something secular, which, by your admission, is most of the time for most people.

Yes. As per my usage:

Everyone can be considered a secular XXX on occasion when they are not acting on the godly/religious nature of their XXX beliefs

This is in distinction to being a Secular XXX all the time, which means that one never acts on any godly/religious belief at any time but still value the tenets, teachings, philosophy of XXX.

All togehter, used in a sentence: " When I was young, I was a Christian but in my practice of science I was Secular and thus a Secular Christian on occasion. However, during my undergrad, I was an atheist but still valued the Christian teachings and so I was a Secular Christian all the time"


I had an online friend who called himself a "Christian atheist." He explained that while he did not believe in a deity, he followed Christian moral codes. Other atheists ridiculed him. I was pagan at the time, but I knew what he meant.

However, Xtianity does not have a monopoly on moral codes. Religious codes grew out of secular social mores and standards, i.e. the Hammurabi Code is a set of laws, not religious edicts. Unless one is a sociopath and born without empathy, having ethics is following one's empathetic leanings and the laws of the land are enough (not that all laws are ethical).

One might as well be a Secular Buddhist--it serves the same purpose.

I am a pagan atheist. I do not believe in a deity, but there are aspects of paganism that still appeal to me.


Since there are so many different forms of Christianity, it is a virtually meaningless term and can therefore be anything you want it to be. So that if someone, like everyone else, wanted to cherry pick out the bits they like and then call that Christianity, then they are no different from anyone else, and are perfectly entitled to call themselves a Christian if they wish. Personally if they believed in "love your enemies", "turn the other cheek", and "take care of others outside your tribe (good Samaritan) " I would probably call them simply a, good person instead, because I think that they are better than that religion. Or even better than Jesus who if we take the New Testament as half true, also said some really horrible things.


No, there is no such thing as a secular xian.
Firstly, you don't need the (supposed) words of jesus to be a moral person.
Secondly, when you do that (taking passages that you like) you're simply doing the same thing as the scamgelicals- picking-and-choosing what sayings suit youy.
Thirdly, according to paul, you have to believe in the resurrection to be a xian.
Fourthly, to be a xian, you have to accept the old testament. Do you really want to do that?


The person in question would have to remain ignorant of the preceding 2,500 years or so of recorded history. He or she could just as easily be a proud Confucianist or Taoist or Hammurabist or Hindi or Zoroastrian as all or most of the doctrines attributed to Jesus were already codified in older texts and/or passed down through oral traditions. I suspect that most proud Christians are ignorant of the history of the ideas they believe originated with Jesus. In the end, being a proud any kind of Christian looks like little more than brand loyalty - like being a proud Tide laundry detergent user vs. a proud Cheer laundry detergent user


A Christian is atheist about the other 4,999 or so gods that are floating around.


Can a Turkey proudly celebrate Thanksgiving?


I voted yes.. The way Jefferson did this with the bible is very interesting...


I have voted no...because the morality and the examples shown by Jesus Christ did not originate with him, he in fact adopted an empathy and morality towards others that was already inherent in humans. It is an admirable philosophy of philanthropy and compassion, and an ethos of caring for others than I wish more people, whether Christian or not, would adopt, but it did not originate with him. Unfortunately, it is impossible to single out the teachings of Christ and leave the rest of the baggage being a Christian comes with, and for that reason I cannot agree with the premise that itโ€™s possible to be both an atheist and a secular Christian.

Is it possible to admire any teaching of any religion that has a spiritual component? My guess that the cultures that were precursors to the "common sense" teachings of "Jesus" also used it in a spiritual capacity. You do make a good point ๐Ÿ™‚


You jest..the very idea of a sky daddy is ridiculous.

I don't need association with a delusion to guide me towards acting decently. Including not owning and raping other humans.

Yes, the keyword in my question is "secular" that means independent of whether sky daddy is real or not. I prefer the idea of sky monkey ๐Ÿ™‚


I vote no, Christianity is nothing but lies.

Secur Level 4 Nov 22, 2020

King David existed. And there is some truth about eating from the tree of knowledge. Enslaved Jews in Egypt outside the bible? Romans putting a hit on Jesus (never mentioned in one record ever and they recorded everything). I think the jeebus thing would have made it into some other work somewhere...

@TheGreatShadow Rave on Avon, the entire Goat-herders Guide to the Galaxy has absolute NO foundation/s in historical factuality what- so-ever.

@TheGreatShadow : Please expand on this supposed truth about the tree of knowledge.


They may not use that label, but I think most of the people on this site fit that category: Having ditched the theological/โ€œgodโ€ part of Christianity, they still often uncritically embrace the moral/ethical ideas for which the Jesus character is the front man.


Morals have nothing to do with Christianity. There are many different reasons, some choose religions, others karma or energies, and there are still other ideas that demonstrate or explain our need for morality. Pick whichever you choose as long as you pick something to motivate your morals!


"Cutting out" bible quotes is why we have over 2000 denominations of Christianity. Of them all, I'd say the Secular Christian has the most humanistic approach to the religion.

Being proud is of course a personal choice. While its not for me, I can see the benefits of truthfully being able to state you're a Christian for familial, social and occupational reasons.

Having no such reasons to do so, I'll remain a proud Omnist. There are humanistic truths in all religions...if you remove the inhumanity inherent in the mythology.


I say yes because I have what I consider a self-consistent and coherent use of those words.

Atheist is ontological: it's the claim that gods don't exist
Secular is practical; it's the action that gods aren't relevant in daily life
Christian is epistemological: it's a belief in the teachings of a person named Christ.

Let's see what combos we can make:

Atheist + Secular: no problem there... if no gods exist by extension they aren't relevant in daily life.
Secular + Christian: shouldn't a problem. As I'm fond of saying, even the pope doesn't pray when he takes a shit. Despite the caricature and stereotypes that many people have of the religious, they are secular 99% of their life... they do math... they do medicine... they do science... all without reliance on gods.
Atheist + Christian: this is probably the most problematic but shouldn't be a problem either... one need not believe that the Christ figure is godly if he existed, and even less so if he didn't, to see values in "his" teachings. So god(s) don't exist by Christian thoughts have value.

So what does it mean to me to be Atheist + Secular + Christian ?

It means you don't believe in god, hence they have no influence over your daily life, but you still abide by and respect the teachings of Christianity.

Interesting insight... being "god" or "godly" in some contexts are the same.

Absolutely the same for the purposes of my response: that christ is god, or godly, or any other supernatural designation is IMO not required to see value in the teaching penned under his name.

@TheMiddleWay I thought christ was god's son, not a deity. The son of a deity so he's not godly in any sense unless things have changed recently and he's been upgraded to godliness.


That's why I use "spiritual not religious". I get crap for saying that, but whatever. I am an electronics nut. Energy can only be converted, not created or destroyed. So to me god is electricity. We know it exists. We can't see it either. The only reason why we know it does is because of the after effects of something else. So I guess both are believeing in something you can't see?

Good write up! Also was it cut with razors? Did they exist at the time? We do know he wrote that book, that's not my point, I'm just curious.


What a stupid question...


I don't fucking care. Why is this post so prominently featured on my opening page? Why is there no way to get rid of it and the other ones too?


Please use another photo other then this demented creep. It's surreal and offensive.


It doesn't work that way.... Jefferson was a believer he just didn't think of Jesus as the son of a god his beliefs were more in line with Muslims who speak of that imaginary being as a Prophet instead.


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