‘Godless Congregation’: Atheist Church Steals From Christian Tradition to Launch Rapidly-Expanding House of Worship
The concept of an atheist church is certainly a curious one. An ideological movement that rejects the existence of a higher power would generally seem, at least on the surface, to shun houses of worship. However, British comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans recently decided to launch The Sunday Assembly, an atheist church in the United Kingdom that has quickly gained hundreds of members and international attention. Already, the response has been so monumental that church leaders are planning to travel to Scotland for special performances.
The Sunday Assembly describes itself as “a godless congregation that will meet on the first Sunday of every month to hear great talks, sing songs and generally celebrate the wonder of life.” It provides non-believers with the opportunity to experience church community without buying into God and other related elements that secularists overwhelmingly reject. The church’s success after just one month has been mind-boggling.
Originally, Jones and Evans hoped that 50 people would attend the first service in London. Instead, 200 congregants showed up, with this number growing to 300 at the second meeting.
Perhaps most striking are the patterns The Sunday Assembly follows, as it uses traditional church practices and adapts them to a non-believing audience. Take, for instance, this recent description from The Guardian:
The Sunday Assembly may be godless, but a churchgoer who stumbled through the wrong door would find much they recognised.
The service opens with a song, led by Evans and an enthusiastic band at the front; instead of a hymn, however, it is “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen (“We’ve chosen something that allows hamming it up to the max”). The service features a reading, a moment of reflective silence, even a collection to pay for the rental of the church, during which people are invited to turn in the pews and greet those sitting beside and behind them. The plan in future is to engage members in community-based good works.
There is also a sermon, of sorts, on the day’s theme of “wonder”, which sees Dr Harry Cliff, a particle physicist from Cambridge, talking about Dirac’s equation predicting antimatter (“the most amazing theory in history”) and the enormous statistical odds against the universe existing in the first place. The congregation then stands to sing Superstition by Stevie Wonder.
See some scenes from inside the church, below (caution: language):
The church’s founders believe that they have tapped into something that has gone unsatisfied for quite some time in the non-theist community: The urge for a sense of togetherness. This is a phenomenon in the atheist community that the TheBlaze has analyzed extensively. Examining past events that activists have organized like the Reason Rally and Rock Beyond Belief, it is clear that many non-believers are seeking community and a cohort of others who, like them, reject belief in a higher power.
“It is intended to tap into a feeling of wonder, that atheists have like believers, to challenge beliefs and give you something to think about for the week ahead,” Jones recently explained. “People also love to feel part of something and in a sense you lose that when you lose God. Our view is you don’t need to believe to get that back.”
As the church grows, one wonders whether others will sprout up in Europe and across the globe. As atheists seek community and use theistic blueprints to achieve their goals, they’ll likely be faced with increased scrutiny when it comes to denials that atheism has become a faith system in its own regard.
What do you think about The Sunday Assembly? Let us know in the comments section, below.
- ‘Bigoted, Religious [Zealots]‘: High School Senior Allegedly Expelled, Charged With Felonies Over Gay Relationship With ‘Consenting’ Fellow Student 1,037 Comments
- ‘The Daily Show’ Creator Makes Outrageously Offensive Anti-Conservative Joke About Okla. Tornado 462 Comments
- Washington Times Writer: Fox News Scandal Goes ‘Much Deeper,’ W.H. Sitting on Something Top Obama Aides ‘Terrified’ About 437 Comments
- University Will Investigate Christian Professor’s Intelligent Design Class Following Atheist Furor 313 Comments
- See the First Behind-the-Scenes Photos as Beck and Mercury One Survey the Damage in Okla. 252 Comments
- ‘Death! You F**k!’: Bat Mitzvah Chaperone Unleashes Explosive, Profanity-Laced Tirade Against Kids Over Candy-Throwing Incident Read More
- How Can God Let Tragedies Like the Okla. Tornado Exist? Pastors Weigh In 158 Comments
- Is This Video of Pope Francis Performing an Exorcism? Read More
- Boston Cardinal Snubs Irish PM Over Abortion Support Read More
- Incredible: The Moment a Woman’s Dog Emerges from Rubble During TV Interview Right After She Describes Losing Him 227 Comments
- China Sets off What Could Be the World’s Longest Demolition Read More
- Here are the 5 Most Interesting Moments from Tuesday’s Hearing on the IRS Scandal 110 Comments
- Jay Carney Shifts IRS Timeline (Again!) 101 Comments
- Top IRS Official at Center of Political Targeting Scandal Will Plead the Fifth 134 Comments
- Disgraced IRS Interim Chief Now Fully Admits Knowledge of Planted Question (but Did It Reveal a Past Half-Truth?) Read More
- The Incredible Role Facebook Played in the Aftermath of Devastating Okla. Tornado Read More
- Tech Company Demonstrates Remote Disabling of a ‘Smart Gun’ Read More
- Meet the Blind Man Nicknamed ‘Midnight Gunslinger’ Who Has 80% Shot Accuracy Read More
- How a $4.5 Million Network of 181 Sirens Helped Save Lives in Oklahoma Twister Read More
- See the Record-Setting Python a Man Caught With His Bare Hands (and Guess How Much It Weighed) Read More
- Diplomats: Iran expands nuke technology
- Syrian opposition urges rebels to join key battle
- Octogenarians race to be oldest Everest climber
- Bank of England remains divided on stimulus
- Restaurant learns online reviews can make or break
- Sony mulls hedge fund's entertainment sale idea
- Under scrutiny, Va. gov's mansion a dichotomy
- Arias speaks out about case in jailhouse interview