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Going Undercover


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Has anyone infiltrated a church where they are not known-- sort of in an anthropological way, to study christians in their own environment without being blinded (or newly embittered) by the theology? I'm picturing the nodding and smiling, and a "praise him" sort of "yessing" required to pass as one of them.

Not being sarcastic at all, just genuinely curious what it would be like to view the whole thing objectively, without the polarization that comes from revealing one's lack of belief.

Anyone up to it? My plate's full, otherwise I would consider it (I live not far from a mega-church where I doubt I'd be known... but I'm thinking to get a true picture would require months of attendance)...

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For years I went as a non-believer pretending to be a believer. Years and years. . . even became a leader in several areas. And even when I left that church I went to several others in the same state of mind. Never causing a problem. Well, unless I went drunk and then I still never caused a problem but I got some looks once in a while.

 

What are you thinking you'll get from it?

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my major professor does ethnographic studies in fundy churches, and he's a super leftist modern Quaker.

 

But in those cases, you can't go "undercover" because you have to be upfront and public about the fact that you're "doing research" on "human subjects." There's alot of paperwork and certification to get in order for it to be "official" and publishable.

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What are you thinking you'll get from it?

 

 

Objectivity, I suppose. When I last went, I was still bitter, pitying, superior... not thrilled to admit that last, but it's true.

Sometimes I see debates here between believers and ex-ctns and it's a bit like watching James Carville and Rush Limbaugh-- it's too difficult to see an opposing point of view when they piss you off so much, and when so much is at stake.

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For years I went as a non-believer pretending to be a believer. Years and years. . . even became a leader in several areas. And even when I left that church I went to several others in the same state of mind. Never causing a problem. Well, unless I went drunk and then I still never caused a problem but I got some looks once in a while.

 

What are you thinking you'll get from it?

 

Wow. You must be a great actor and a knack for keeping your true thoughts hidden.

 

 

I like the sound of an anthropologic observation, but I guess it would be different for everybody. For instance, some people have been so abused by xtians that they wouldn't be able to keep a straight face when facing them. Then there are those who whouldn't be able to hold back their wisecracks. I think, in order for it to work, you would have to approach the matter with an air of indifference. You would have to adopt an attitude of passive observation. Like fallenleaf said, by not causing trouble. Don't stand out. Blend with the crowd. If you talk to anyone, be careful not to go into controversial subject matter, because that may blow your cover if you lose your temper. Don't be memorable. Be friendly, but not overly so. Above all, praise Jesus.

 

 

If you secretly harbor desires to return to the faith, by all means do not go.

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I think that it would be interesting if someone did a kinda Jane Goodall equivalent on a proper sampling of various denominational churches. It might be very informative.

 

You'd have to be careful though not to look the alpha male in the eyes. He might take that as a threat to his authority.

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Wow. You must be a great actor and a knack for keeping your true thoughts hidden.

 

For over eight years, I didn't even whisper of my apostacy when I was alone in bed at night. I didn't even think it too loud most of the time. It was less of an act and more of a "this is who I am outside my head and this is who I am inside it." I was absolutely certain that slipping up on that would have horrible results. And future events confirmed that.

 

When you feel that the very life you have may depend on the role you're playing, you never drop character. It's a sad, sick time of my life. There were a few moments where I refused to play into the role completely or didn't play it as strongly as I should have but I never acted outside the behaviors I was supposed to have. I would have sooner gone to jail for some crime than revealed myself.

 

It is not something I am proud of. In many ways, I wish it hadn't been like that and I could have been a normal person. I lost my teen years to that and I'll never get them back. In many ways, Christianity cost me myself. . . it took from me everything it was possible to take except that last inch. And in that inch, I am. Not God, not Jesus, not the Holy Spirit. . . I AM! :twitch:

 

 

Sorry, I'm rambling. We return you now to our regularly scheduled thread.

 

Edit: Years later, when they broke me, truly broke me, it was that last inch which would not give. I could give them everything else. I could give them everything I had but that last inch was unable to be handed over. It saved me at that time. I would have, if I could have, gone back. If it was within my power then I would have let it all go at that moment. It terrifies me to have been that broken but I was. All except for that last inch and they couldn't have it.

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I think the OP has a brilliant idea. It would make for a great documentary if you could somehow hide the camera. That, or justify the presence of the camera without raising suspicion.

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I for one don't need to go back to church as an undercover..What for? I spent 5 years in the BS..I know whats going on and by going to church that won't change 1 thing...I can about give the entire run down of what a Penticostal, Methodist , TV evangilsit etc.. will be like...So by going back to a church what will that do? Heres what will happen..

Lets say on Sunday I go to the next town and visit the 1st Charismatic Church of Jesus. I get a hand shake and "FAKE" smile at the door by the paid welcommer. The I will be greated by a few weirdo's who tell me how great the church is. Then I sit down service begins..Starts with preyer..About 20 other people start preying out load "got to show off their holiness" Then song...oh this is fun....after singing "Great is the Lord" 20 times and seeing peopling running around..speaking in tounges...ect...The pastor don't no longer have enough time to preach on tithing so he gives an alter call of which some ass hole who seen me will "feel a burden" and ask me to come with him to the alter.La la la.....

Sorry I'll happily sit on my ass and watch TV then go put myself through that torture!

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I think the OP has a brilliant idea. It would make for a great documentary if you could somehow hide the camera. That, or justify the presence of the camera without raising suspicion.

 

"I'm recording these sermons to send to troops in Iraq!"

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I think the OP has a brilliant idea. It would make for a great documentary if you could somehow hide the camera. That, or justify the presence of the camera without raising suspicion.

Hey V,

 

I'm wondering if anyone wants to take up the challenge? To attend one a month, or one every two or 6 months, and report back? I'd be willing to go to one service every two months (I currently attend UU services, but we're flanked by catholic and baptist churches, plus, in town, is the mega-freak-nutcase-loonybin-church. Which, frankly, I'd love to attend. Once. Then I'd have to bathe in bleach and eat only white foods for a week).

 

What say we?

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I was, (and still am) a janitor at a church during my deconversion, so this is pretty much my life.

Daily reminders of why I left. Well, left mentally, anyway. and no-one's noticed even though I stopped going to services, and rarely respond in spiritual conversations.

So, what, exactly, do you want to know?

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Has anyone infiltrated a church where they are not known-- sort of in an anthropological way, to study christians in their own environment without being blinded (or newly embittered) by the theology? I'm picturing the nodding and smiling, and a "praise him" sort of "yessing" required to pass as one of them.

Not being sarcastic at all, just genuinely curious what it would be like to view the whole thing objectively, without the polarization that comes from revealing one's lack of belief.

Anyone up to it? My plate's full, otherwise I would consider it (I live not far from a mega-church where I doubt I'd be known... but I'm thinking to get a true picture would require months of attendance)...

 

 

Great Post! After believing for half my life I now attend only when absolutely necessary. I praise jjjjjjjjjjezus and receive communion and then walk out saying a refreshing fuck it all. How awesome is that! From being a guilt ridden believer to a total atheist able to play the pious part as a show and then realize its bullshit! A hypocrite? maybe. I really get off by saying fuck all religion for fucking up mos tof my life. Sorry for the rant.

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I've been to churches where I wasn't known. Last year, at Christmas, we went to the Methodist church that my grandma (stepmom's mom) attended. I felt like an anthropologist studying an alien society the whole time I was there.

 

It was bizarre and I knew the whole thing was a farce. I felt very sad for the kids who were forced to be in the pageant. I wondered how many of their parents were doubting their beliefs, and yet made the kids do it so they wouldn't be outcasts or to keep the family peace.

 

Someday, I hope that everyone will realize it's all a farce.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey I am going to experiment it this Sunday, my family got invited to church. Only reason I want to go is because the church that we got invited to has kick ass food. Hell yeah free food of course I am going. I can surrvive an hour of bullshit heck I surrvied Scott's and Amy's bullshit. I am going behind enemy lines wish me luck.

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Hey I am going to experiment it this Sunday, my family got invited to church. Only reason I want to go is because the church that we got invited to has kick ass food. Hell yeah free food of course I am going. I can surrvive an hour of bullshit heck I surrvied Scott's and Amy's bullshit. I am going behind enemy lines wish me luck.

 

 

Good luck to you. Just be careful, some of these churches will suck you in. They put more emphasis on the social club aspects just to increase membership and keep that social circle going to make sure you keep coming back.

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Oh don't worry I won't be back....It's a church where I am unknown I can hide in the shadows. I can act as one them but I never will be one of them. I can see in the darkness and that is the darkness within. I know what to expect , I went Thanksgiving the last time I went there, Heck the message made me feel ill....but oh well I can live through it. Remember I once was one of them so we all, once an ex christian always an ex christian. I have already been burned the fire now it is time to study the fire. See it from a atheist view and how people react, almost like socialogy.

 

I can play the game and do the act and leave saying " Fuck you God." Have no guilt and have fresh air. Remember I only go when neccessary and that is NOT often.

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The update that you have been waiting for:

 

The Church :Social atomphere at it's best it trys to do the group happiness thing. It's really sickening and so many damn fakes. I even did communion just for the act I was one of them. It was so hilarious I wish they had wine.

 

The Message: God wants you in his family

 

Notable things in the message:

 

God has already chosen who is going to his kingdom (said by the pastor himself)

 

God is loving and caring

 

There needs to be a relationship.

 

Pastor's wife had a miscarrage but God was still there for them......(what?)

 

We are all in Gods plan (even the people that will burn in hell because God loves them)

 

My imput

 

There was no mention of hell at all. Not one. Odd huh? I was waiting for the hell thing but it never came. This church is making god sound like amy marie's God. A happy loving teddy bear who is your best friend. Which the Bible says otherwise....

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Franklin Graham is coming to town this month. :eek: I could always hang out by the arena with my camcorder and create an archeological record of the weirdness.

 

But no frigging way am I going into that building...

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The Church :Social atomphere at it's best it trys to do the group happiness thing. It's really sickening and so many damn fakes. I even did communion just for the act I was one of them. It was so hilarious I wish they had wine.

 

Of course they were a happy group. They were worshipping the almighty.

 

God has already chosen who is going to his kingdom (said by the pastor himself)

 

So why bother going? Why bother following the Bible?? If God has already chosen, seems to me you don't need to do anything other than live your life and then die. Either you are one of the chose or you aren't. Seems you can't do much to change that.

 

God is loving and caring

 

Course he is. I kill people in his name, am a downright nasty person toward others, sing his praises all day, everyday. Therefore I am quite sure I am one of God's chose few.

 

There needs to be a relationship.

 

Between whom, God and I?, The pastor and one of the kids in the congregation? The pastor and one of the women in the congregration?

 

 

Pastor's wife had a miscarrage but God was still there for them......(what?)

 

He sure was. What a wonderful mean and nasty SOB that would cause such pain and suffering.

 

We are all in Gods plan (even the people that will burn in hell because God loves them)

 

Yep, I burn always burn my kids but man I love them when I do.

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Has anyone infiltrated a church where they are not known-- sort of in an anthropological way, to study christians in their own environment without being blinded (or newly embittered) by the theology? I'm picturing the nodding and smiling, and a "praise him" sort of "yessing" required to pass as one of them.

Not being sarcastic at all, just genuinely curious what it would be like to view the whole thing objectively, without the polarization that comes from revealing one's lack of belief.

Anyone up to it? My plate's full, otherwise I would consider it (I live not far from a mega-church where I doubt I'd be known... but I'm thinking to get a true picture would require months of attendance)...

 

Actually I was thinking about going on an Alpha course for precisely this reason.

Good luck to you. Just be careful, some of these churches will suck you in. They put more emphasis on the social club aspects just to increase membership and keep that social circle going to make sure you keep coming back.

I had these neighbours who were part of a pentecostalist church and did very much emphasize the social club aspects of their church

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Yes, but it's only been and stayed a thought... I cannot lie to save my own ass. Besides, my last church was soooo huge that there'd probably be someone I know there saying, "Oh, you've come back to the Lord!"

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I can understand why someone wouldn't want to go anywhere near a church, especially if they have been abused by it in the past. However, this is an interesting concept, and I've toyed with it myself.

 

Our local weekly free publication had started a column called Houses of the Holy which was pretty much along these same lines. They would send out one of their "prophets" to various churches undercover, who would then make their "10 Pronouncements" on the target church. They haven't had that feature for the past couple of months - I think they just haven't had anyone contribute. I'm thinking of writing one myself.

 

Here's a copy of the form they use...

 

THIS WEEK’S HOLY LAND (Advance work or obtain from the bulletin)

 

Name of the House:

 

 

Address:

 

 

Phone:

 

Web Site:

 

Setting/Environs:

 

 

 

 

 

Name of Head Spiritual Guru:

 

Denomination/Affiliation:

 

Date and Time:

 

If this was a special service (wedding, bat mitzvah, installation of new minister) what was it?

 

Top Billed Clergy For Today:

 

 

“I chose this specific House because….”

 

 

Have you visited here before? If so, how often?

 

 

 

THE TEN PRONOUNCEMENTS (Complete the following sentences; be truthful first, but think creatively as the best responses aren’t formulaic)

 

“Once inside the doors, the first thing I noticed was…”

 

 

“As I sat down, the people around me were…”

 

 

“The service opened up with…”

 

 

“The one thing that struck me as being positively profound was…”

 

 

“The sermon was exactly ___ minutes long and it was basically about…”

 

 

“After the service ended…”

 

 

“Newcomers and visitors are…”

 

 

“The most painful part was…”

 

 

“I was pleasantly surprised when…”

 

 

“My most lasting impression will be…”

 

 

THE JUDGMENT (IN 25 WORDS OR LESS):

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Other things worth mentioning: About this church and my old church

 

It was " Friends Day" so shouldn't you scare the wits out of people to believe in God. Heck that is what church is for. For control and power the first thing you need to do is say the punishment if you don't follow?

 

( Heck at my old church hell was mentioned almost in every other sentence. My old church tries to scare you, however I just :lmao: all the time in my heart.

 

I never went to this church for an actual service before but just for thanksgiving. ( Come on free food) However this time it was so strange and bizzare. They did a baptism outside in this fountain thing. Everyone surrounded it and then started to sing a low song. I mean I was :Hmm: this is really an odd thing. It felt like a cult in my mind this whole time their was so much happening. When everyone was surrounding it I just backed up and wasn't in the group.

 

Now when I go to my former church or any church. I always feel out of place, like everyone doesn't like me. Like the youth pastor doesn't like me because even when I was a Christian I wanted nothing to do high school group, middle school group. Now when I returned eariler this year back in June (last time I went to church) I get glared at and I don't really care. They can fuck off I want nothing to do with them anyway. I would rather not be wanted their since I am an athesist anyway.

 

 

Off topic I find it funny

My friend told me they had a meeting with the youth group about contreversial issues and stuff. He said ( 6 months ago but still funny)

 

My friend" I bet you don't know what they said about dating?"

 

Me I said " I know exactly what they will say, They will say date only people who are Christians if not you will go to hell?

 

My friend- Why do you always when you talk about church you saying everyone is going to hell, or the church is trying to scam people.

 

Me- Well look at the pastors house it is a fancy house, he sure isn't poor. ( I went to his house for dinner for some reason) Also the hell thing isn't that the whole catch to Christianity that means billions of people are going to hell.

 

My friend-well uhhhhhhh

 

Another Conversation (2 weeks before that about church)

 

Me- So let me get this straight the ONLY way to get to heaven is believe in God.

 

My friend- Yeah

 

Me- So what about the people that lived in North America before the Christians came, or even the people before the Bible

 

My friend- Well in the Bible it says you will know when you found God?

 

Me- You are just saying that or is that a theory

 

My friend- It's in the Bible

 

Me- But the people wouldn't even know about it that live far away

 

My friend- Let's stop talking about religion

 

Me- whatever

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