Not sure how we missed this one: Over at the New York Times, the regular humorly advice column, The Ethicist, recently featured a question regarding a nonbeliever joining a Bible study. (The questioner wanted to join the Bible study to learn more about the Bible.) The Ethicist’s response:
You are never obligated to tell anyone about your personal religious beliefs (or the lack thereof). Joining a Bible-study group is not the same as committing to a religion. You have every right to view the Bible solely as a literary document or a historical curiosity. In fact, I suspect your undefined addition to this collective will be intellectually and emotionally enriching to everyone, including yourself. Moreover, if you immediately marginalize yourself as a nonbeliever, it could derail the group dynamic and skew the experience (because some members of the ensemble might feel a compulsion to convert you, which is not the goal of a study group).
The current Ethicist is the excellent essayist Chuck Klosterman. I think his answer is pretty-spot on. Whether you’re a believer or a non-believer, we hope that Holey Books provides some more information and thoughtful analysis of the Bible.