North Texas Church of Freethought
|Founded||1994, Dallas, Texas, U.S.|
|Tim Gorski, MD, Pastoral Director|
The North Texas Church of Freethought (NTCOF) was founded by Tim Gorski and Mike and Marilyn Sullivan in 1994 as perhaps the first explicitly non-theistic and non-supernaturalistic religious organization in the USA. Its aim has been to serve the psychosocial needs of atheists, agnostics, and other non-religious people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and to promote a rational and humanistic view of what have been traditionally "religious" issues and questions. The first service was held at what was then the Wilson World hotel in Irving, Texas; currently they are held at the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Hotel DFW Airport North in Irving, Texas. Free childcare and Sunday School classes have been an integral part of the NTCOF's mission.
Since March 2000 the Houston Church of Freethought has pursued the same goals and provided the same services in that city. A Northern California Church of Freethought was briefly in existence around 1999, but has since disbanded.
On May 18, 2006, the Texas State Comptroller's office granted tax-exempt status to the NTCOF as a result of actions taken by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which had previously secured tax-exempt status for the Ethical Society of Austin. This status had been previously denied to the NTCOF and other non-traditional churches because they did not profess "a belief in God, or gods, or a higher power."
Because the NTCOF characterizes itself as a church, it has been the subject of mixed opinion by atheist groups; for example, an attempted donation to American Atheists was once rejected, and Paul Kurtz, founder of the Council for Secular Humanism, discouraged the NTCOF founders when they approached him with their idea. However, the Atheist Alliance International in 2000 published a press release defending the NTCOF against perceived media bias from a Dallas-area television news story. The NTCOF takes the position that churches are simply units of social organization, intermediate between those of the family and the larger community, that are based on deeply felt shared beliefs concerning "matters of ultimate concern." NTCOF Officiants have conducted marriages, naming ceremonies, and funerals/remembrances.
The NTCOF filed an amicus curiae brief in 2004 for Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, supporting Michael Newdow's argument. Dr. Newdow has also founded a secular church, the First Atheist Church of True Science (FACTS).
- North Texas Church of Freethought
- Houston Church of Freethought
- DFW Coalition of Reason
- United Coalition of Reason
- "Who Said You Have to Believe to Attend Church?" (2000-07-13). BeliefNet.com. Retrieved 2014-12-20.
- Embree, Stephanie (2014-08-08). "Atheist Churches Provide a Community for Dallas Nonbelievers." The Dallas Morning News (DallasNews.com). Retrieved 2014-12-20.
- Sanburn, Josh (2014-07-24). "Atheist Churches Gain Popularity Even in the Bible Belt." Time.com. Retrieved 2014-12-20.
- Collier, Lorna (2000-10-22). "A Solitary Project: Some Parents Build a Family Without a Religious Foundation." Chicago Tribune, Health and Family. Reproduced online at LornaCollier.com. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
- Northern California Church of Freethought Webpage (archived).
- "Americans United Helps Texas 'church Of Freethought' Win Tax-exempt Status" (Press release, 2006-05-26). AU.org. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-28. Retrieved 2016-02-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)