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North Texas Church of Freethought
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Okay, so there's this group of people who call themselves the North Texas Church of Freethought here in the DFW area.

Now, I've thought about going for several years, just to see what it's like. I'm agnostic, and I often think it would be nice to have a group of likeminded people to commune with. But I've always backed out at the last minute.

I don't really even like the term "church" for a community of non-believers. It seems disingenuous. And then there's the problem that atheists and agnostics don't necessarily stand for anything. They're simply declarations of what people don't believe, so you may get a pretty mixed bag of individual perspectives.

What I'd worried about beforehand was that there was no positive agenda, and that these people just hung out on Sundays to poke fun at Christians and other religions in order to feel intellectually superior. Well, unfortunately I was right.

I went with my friends Philip and Jill, and we showed up early at the Holiday Inn where the service was held to eat a little breakfast. When we filed into the meeting room, there was a fellow up at the podium talking about how this service was going to be devoted to their "Mythmas" celebration. Cute, huh?

There was going to be a debate between someone from the Santa Research Foundation and an "asantaist". More cuteness. Oh, don't worry, there was more yet to come.

Two old guys started out the service with a couple of English ballads played on guitar and violin, which was the least obnoxious part of the service.

Then came the "main event". The mock debate was actually between the leader of the church and one of his daughters, who was going by the name "Penny Gloss" (alluding to Dr. Pangloss of Voltaire's "Candide"...oh, my sides). She was about 15 years old, I'd guess. Another of his daughters was "moderating". Dr. Gloss was "arguing" for the existence of Santa Claus, while her dad was "rebutting" by reading this tired-ass piece of geeky physics humor.

"Penny" spouted lots of arguments for the existence of Santa Claus, many of which echoed standard arguments for belief in god or in Jesus as the son of god. There was plenty of condescending laughter from the gallery at the stupidity of anyone who might believe such nonsense.

This went on for a long, agonizing time.

When it was finally done, we got to sing Christmas songs. Yeah, that's right. The ones with no religious content we sang straight up, no changes in the words (in case you were wondering, no...I wasn't singing). Some others had been specially tailored for Freethinker sensibilities.

For example:

Now Rest Yet Mindful Freethinkers (to the tune of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)

Now rest ye mindful Freethinkers, let nothing you dismay;
Remember there's no evidence there was a Christmas Day;
When Christ was born is just not known, no matter what they say,
O, tidings of reason and fact, reason and fact,
Glad tidings of reason and fact.

I'll spare you the rest, but there's much, much more.

This particular ridiculousness was interspersed with songs like "White Christmas" sung by a woman named Esther who fancied herself a regular Liza Minelli, but who sounded more like a strangled goat. It wouldn't have been so bad if she hadn't hogged the stage and insisted on singing songs that no one else had the lyrics to. Jeez, it was awful.

When it was over, we got the hell out of there was fast as we could.

As Philip said, if he'd been on the borderline, this would have sent him screaming back into the arms of the Christians.

Yeah, it was that bad.

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