British atheist group looking to expand will host sermon in New York

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The British atheists are coming to Hell’s Kitchen!


After six months of packed houses at monthly services in London, an atheist congregation called The Sunday Assembly is bringing its movement to the U.S.

The co-founders will soon embark on a cross-country tour to decide which cities might support their own permanent Sunday Assembly franchise, and the first test run will be held in a Manhattan dive bar.

"Lots of people are giving us warnings that it's going to be different over there, but so far, we've just had a lot of support from the people in America," co-founder and stand-up comic Sanderson Jones told the Daily News.

Independent tech consultant Michael Trollan, 33, is one New York atheist who definitely plans to attend the Assembly's first New York gathering. Raised in Texas, where he attended Catholic school, Trollan has eschewed religion since he was young.

"I remember that I started asking tough questions when I was about 10," Trollan said. "By the time I was 12, I had lost my faith."

Written By: David Knowles
continue to source article at nydailynews.com

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  1. I think it’s great what they are doing, except… PLEASE stop calling your selves atheists! So many theists already think atheism is a belief. This is just going to add more fuel to the fire.

  2. People should be able to assemble to listen to whomever they want, but this sounds stupid to me. It will really be “all but” a religion. You’ll hear the theists gloating and firing off their usual crap of “See, it IS a religion. So, you respect MY faith and I’ll respect yours.” and all of it should be taught in school.

    They could have called it a ‘traveling circus’ and been better off.

    • In reply to #3 by justinesaracen:

      People should be able to assemble to listen to whomever they want, but this sounds stupid to me. It will really be “all but” a religion. You’ll hear the theists gloating and firing off their usual crap of “See, it IS a religion. So, you respect MY faith and I’ll respect yours.” and all of it should…

      So who cares what theists think? Why should we inhibit our activities just because theists might take it the wrong way? that keeps them in charge, doesn’t it?

  3. ‘Sunday Assembly franchise’ – is the aim to make this a big money making mega church ?

    “I didn’t realize how many militant, fundamentalist atheists there are,” Jones said – oh dear !!

    • In reply to #8 by Kevin Murrell:

      I foresee soppy moralism, touchy-feely mutual support, the emergence of a pseudo-clergy, laagered group solidarity, children being forced to attend, collection plates…..Oh Lord!

      It all sounds fine, except the part about forcing children to attend, which I don’t think will happen.

      • A split from what? Do all atheists think the same way right now and you’re afraid the Sunday Assembly might change that?

        As far as I know, there’s only one thing atheists have to have in common – lack of belief in the supernatural. If there’s a rule book that says “Thou shalt not assemble on Sundays” I definitely missed it.

        In reply to #18 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #10 by veggiemanuk:

        How long before the first schism hits the fan and we get infighting and a split?

        I know most comments here are negative but I see this only going one way and thats BAD.

        Next thing you know we’ll be fighting otters riding Ostriches:

        http://www.southparkstudios.com/

  4. I guess some people need this; the community and the rituals. But personally I find these church substitutes creepy. I have experience in belonging to some completely non-religious organizations, that employed rituals and in-group habits to create a sense of community. And it’s amazing how quickly it creates an atmosphere of ecstasy which otherwise rational and smart people are pulled into. Suddenly everybody is following the mass, stops questioning practices and defends irrational practices done in the name of group cohesion. That’s what I’m afraid will happen in these atheist sermons. It might sound like an irrational fear, considering that atheists are fairly level-headed people, but individuals move into group thinking mode fairly quickly, without noticing it themselves.

    Many atheists take pride in not being blind followers of faith and authority figures, having usually become atheists by figuring things out on their own. Even though I don’t know the exact content of these “atheist sermons”, I still feel they replicate so well many of the things atheists dislike about religions. That’s why I’m uncomfortable with these sermons.

    • Consider that church has been a substitute for normal human coummunity and ritual – we’re just taking it back.

      In reply to #11 by Aztek:

      I guess some people need this; the community and the rituals. But personally I find these church substitutes creepy. I have experience in belonging to some completely non-religious organizations, that employed rituals and in-group habits to create a sense of community. And it’s amazing how quickly i…

  5. Well, I like the idea!
    Churches are misguided but they do have some good stuff going on, such as creating a sense of community and frameworks for moral support for those that need it.
    If we want to get rid of churches we ought to be able to show that the benefits that exist will not be lost.

    • In reply to #13 by Pauly01:

      This represents everything bad about atheism . Sermons? Congregation ? Yuk.

      c’mon, Pauly – use your imagination and don’t get hung up on words. You could think of it in terms of taking back those words –expanding them and redefining them, like “gay.”

    • In reply to #14 by A3Kr0n:

      Why would an atheist want to go a sermon? I don’t need to be preached to. I can do my own thinking, and I don’t need some feel-good, get ‘em all charged up kind of nonsense.

      For the same reason you’d go to an interesting talk on any subject. Don’t get turned off by nomenclature. Sermons don’t have to be about God. Think of it as a lecture, a presentation, a comedy sketch

    • In reply to #14 by A3Kr0n:

      Why would an atheist want to go a sermon? I don’t need to be preached to. I can do my own thinking, and I don’t need some feel-good, get ‘em all charged up kind of nonsense.

      Not all atheists are exactly like you, apparently. Ever been to an atheist convention? It’s a pretty charged up atmosphere — better stay away if it’s not your cup of tea, but please don’t ban it for those who like getting charged up once in a while.

  6. I work from home so I have few opportunities to meet like minded individuals. I also happen to live in a rural area of the bible belt. So I feel, at times, as if I have few choices in finding atheist friends. I truly welcome atheist or secular services. If there was one near me, I most certainly would attend. Though I don’t miss my past religious beliefs, I do very much miss the community support, new friendships and attending weekly services.

  7. “We’re big fans of religion. We think churches do great things,” Jones said.

    WTF? What about the hugely hateful stuff spun to the mega congregations I see on God TV? The sexism, racism, slut-shaming, life denying, thought denying, dogmatic, selfish , child indoctrinating, bonkers bollocks?

    “I didn’t realize how many militant, fundamentalist atheists there are,” Jones said.

    Thanks, for that “militant”, brother. Why not practice a little of your own espoused tolerance, rather than seek to disable our voice.

    (When first mooted I gave these two a cautious welcome. I hated the branding but no real harm done. This harms.)

  8. An great example of why religion is necessary for many people. Gods may be a social construct, but they fill a social need.
    Decrease in Christianity heralded an increase in Islam in the UK. Those who ‘believe’ in no god still feel a need for direction.

    It is time for the intelligentsia to review the pandering agenda of the last 50 years which ending up with the LCD / dumbed down society and work on social constructs based on the Republic. Nothing wrong with telling stories to those who need it.

    • In reply to #29 by Markec:

      An great example of why religion is necessary for many people. Gods may be a social construct, but they fill a social need.
      Decrease in Christianity heralded an increase in Islam in the UK. Those who ‘believe’ in no god still feel a need for direction.

      It is time for the intelligentsia to review…

      Actually, no – take London for instance. London has always been a bit anti-religious. There has been a drop in religiosity in terms of formal church attendance in Britain as a whole over the past 50 years, but the rise in Islamic devotion is unrelated to that causally. Islam in Britain is a function of those who emigrated here due to the Empire.

      • In reply to #30 by Nemesis:

        London has always been a bit anti-religious

        A huge generalisation and far from the truth. Perhaps in the Islington mindset, but beyond a bunch of post Marxist pseudo intellectual lefties, not something I recognise as particularly a London thing.

        As to the raise of Islam, I’m not talking about the simple increase due to immigration, I refer to the conversion rates amongst traditionally Christian fodder.

        Whether it’s cultural thing which is manipulated or an innate need to explain the world around us (which for some means mystical answers rather than rational ones) there is a sizeable proportion of the population that seems not to have the capacity (natural or nurtured is not provable) to accept a meaningless (non spiritual) existence. Some people lead and the majority are content to follow. Through human existence stories (religions) have been used for social order. I’m simply suggesting there is nothing innately wrong with the stories; some (the tribal leadership) understand the stories at origin (at least initially) and devise and elaborate them for their own purposes.

        Islam is a great example of this: Mohd crafted a fabulous set of tales based on stories he picked up on his travels as a salesman. He duplicates and changes as necessary the stories for his own ends, which seemed to be domination of the region through threat and war. He and the clan leaders created a set of stories which ultimately became a world religion.

        This group above (news story about atheism becoming a religion) have stepped away from their original story but still feel the need (the reassurance and comfort) to be told another one.

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