Atheist Mega Churches Are Taking Root All Over The World

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It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Hundreds packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational sermon, a reading and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was God.

Dozens of gatherings dubbed "atheist mega-churches" by supporters and detractors are springing up around the U.S. after finding success in Great Britain earlier this year. The movement fueled by social media and spearheaded by two prominent British comedians is no joke.

On Sunday, the inaugural Sunday Assembly in Los Angeles attracted more than 400 attendees, all bound by their belief in non-belief. Similar gatherings in San Diego, Nashville, New York and other U.S. cities have drawn hundreds of atheists seeking the camaraderie of a congregation without religion or ritual.

The founders, British duo Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, are currently on a tongue-in-cheek "40 Dates, 40 Nights" tour around the U.S. and Australia to drum up donations and help launch dozens of Sunday Assemblies. They hope to raise more than $800,000 that will help atheists launch their pop-up congregations around the world.

 

Written By: Gillian Flaccus
continue to source article at businessinsider.com

55 COMMENTS

  1. Each to their own. Not my cup of tea, but good luck to them.

    I just wish they wouldn’t use the words “atheist” or “church”. It does give the impression atheism is another religion, and “church” also sends the wrong message. “Sunday assembly” is far better – it gives that particular group a name and identity, and if they get a reputation as just another religion, at least it only applies to that group and leaves other atheists out of it.

    • In reply to #3 by God fearing Atheist:

      Each to their own. Not my cup of tea, but good luck to them.

      I just wish they wouldn’t use the words “atheist” or “church”. It does give the impression atheism is another religion, and “church” also sends the wrong message. “Sunday assembly” is far better – it gives that particular group a name and…

      Agreed. It strikes me more as a marketing ploy than anything else. I think the trend should be dropping religious associations and promoting the secular ones, not the other way around, in order to make it clear that religion is not necessary but merely optional.

      • The point of The Assembly is for non-believers to have a place to congregate and socialize. The human animal needs socialization too !

        In reply to #6 by Zeuglodon:

        In reply to #3 by God fearing Atheist:

        Each to their own. Not my cup of tea, but good luck to them.

        I just wish they wouldn’t use the words “atheist” or “church”. It does give the impression atheism is another religion, and “church” also sends the wrong message. “Sunday assembly” is far better – i…

        • In reply to #42 by RATLUVER1967:

          The point of The Assembly is for non-believers to have a place to congregate and socialize. The human animal needs socialization too !

          Yup, we do. And places to do it already exist, and they are called pubs, short for public houses. There is no need to reinvent them after the model of the churches, with all the superstitious baggage that goes with them.

          I concede that the translation of the walking distance neighbourhood pub into a small casino, with police breathalysers hovering outside and drunken brawls late at night has hugely corrupted their original mandate. Oddly, and as an aside, it has turned them into multi acre facilities reminiscent of the the multi acre temple that Jesus is supposed to have emptied, presumably at closing time.

          They still exist though, and in Australia at least are resurfacing as wine bars, small, intimate, and structured so that conversations are easily initiated. You don’t have to drink alcohol if you don’t want to, and you will meet all sorts of people, including some who may not agree with you, which gives you a better chance to actually spread some rational thought. Which to me, certainly beats preaching to the converted.

    • In reply to #3 by God fearing Atheist:

      Each to their own. Not my cup of tea, but good luck to them.

      I just wish they wouldn’t use the words “atheist” or “church”. It does give the impression atheism is another religion, and “church” also sends the wrong message. “Sunday assembly” is far better – it gives that particular group a name and…

      This sounds exactly like what I said in two comments on the previous Nashville atheist church article….you use the same few phrases…..just saying !!

  2. How can we change the views of irrational thinking among our egoistic society? To believe there is no God is like looking up at the sky, and see no clouds, or moon, or sun. I can’t wrap my mind around how people actually think there is no God. But guess what our heavenly father still loves them! It’s up to them to change their views on believing there is a GOD before they die! The devil is doing a good job making the gates of hell wide, while the gates of heaven is narrow! Wake up atheist people before it’s too late!!!!!

    • In reply to #4 by Knowledge_Truth:

      How can we change the views of irrational thinking among our egoistic society? To believe there is no God is like looking up at the sky, and see no clouds, or moon, or sun. I can’t wrap my mind around how people actually think there is no God. But guess what our heavenly father still loves them! It’…

      Hmmm…what was the word now? Poe?

    • In reply to #4 by Knowledge_Truth:

      How can we change the views of irrational thinking among our egoistic society? To believe there is no God is like looking up at the sky, and see no clouds, or moon, or sun. I can’t wrap my mind around how people actually think there is no God. But guess what our heavenly father still loves them! It’…

      Are you serious? Because I can’t really tell. Why is it that an omniscient god would want his creations (i.e. humans) to have to deny knowledge just to believe in him?

  3. we are just as good citizens as you and we’re going to start a church to prove it,” said Zuckerman

    Bloody “Badges of Goodness”

    Few intelligent people see a reliable correlation between church attendance and actual goodness. This is a badge no longer worth the impacted smugness its made from. I wonder how long it will be before Americans start lying about attending the Church of Almighty Good like their Christian bretheren? All the badge, none of the effort.

    • In reply to #8 by phil rimmer:

      start lying about attendance

      That’s interesting. I suspect they would delude themselves about how often they go, but do so less. I’m not sure the reasons for falsely stating how often church is attended are as simple as you suggest. People likely convince themselves in many cases. A comparison with how often people claim to, e.g., exercise or read books would be instructive.

  4. God fearing Atheist:

    I just wish they wouldn’t use the words “atheist” or “church”. It does give the impression atheism is another religion, and “church” also sends the wrong message. “Sunday assembly” is far better – it gives that particular group a name and identity, and if they get a reputation as just another religion, at least it only applies to that group and leaves other atheists out of it.

    These two are stand up comedians for Christ’s sake ! I’m sorry if the irony is lost on you, but humour is a very powerful weapon. Deflating the pompous, poking fun at the rituals, laying bare the ridiculousness of religion, and maybe even making people think.

    As Sanderson said “What’s not to like ?”

  5. I’ve said it before, and I say it again: these Sunday Assemblies creep me out. I understand that some people like the communal aspect that religions have to offer, and that they want to experience that outside of religious circles, and that’s fine. But why do these “assemblies” have to emulate religious services? Now, I admit, I have not been to a Sunday Assembly so I can’t say what they are exactly like. But I’ve gotten the image that they do resemble religious (Christian) services quite much. Why is that? Don’t people who have a distaste for religion find it uncomfortable to spend time in a type of a ritual that has a central part in brainwashing people when used for religious purposes? If you feel the need to gather with like-minded people, why not go out for a beer? Or come up with another kind of pleasant get-together?

    These assemblies are simply not something I could ever imagine attending. If someone gets something out of them, good for her. But the idea of sitting in a gathering which so closely resembles a religious one makes me shudder.

    Also, I don’t think these will last very long. Religious people need to be told over and over again that their faith is true. Otherwise it wouldn’t propagate. One cannot observe nature and come to the conclusion that a religion is true. That’s why religions have to convince every generation that their specific crazy beliefs are true, despite complete lack of evidence. This is why religious groups need to gather; to strengthen their belief in the shared fairytale. But atheists do not need to be convinced that their conclusion of a god’s non-existence is true. It’s a conclusion everyone can come up with on their own, without someone else whispering it in your ear. We don’t need the reaffirmation that we are correct. I see these assemblies as a fad, an activity that has sprung up as a fun anti-reaction to religious ones. They are kind of like the Flying Spaghetti Monster version of religious sermons. But because at their core they are not actually needed, they will at some point fade away.

    • In reply to #11 by Aztek:

      Some of us like religious services. What else would you have them emulate?

      Some people can live on valid arguments. Many more need regular or even constant reassurance and emotional support. People vary. I realise one can get these things in various ways, but saying that reinforcement of dogma is their only purpose is a misunderstanding of how churches work and have worked, IMO.

  6. I’ve said it before, and I say it again: these Sunday Assemblies creep me out. I understand that some people like the communal aspect that religions have to offer, and that they want to experience that outside of religious circles, and that’s fine. But why do these “assemblies” have to emulate religious services? Now, I admit, I have not been to a Sunday Assembly so I can’t say what they are exactly like. But I’ve gotten the image that they do resemble religious (Christian) services quite much. Why is that? Don’t people who have a distaste for religion find it uncomfortable to spend time in a type of a ritual that has a central part in brainwashing people when used for religious purposes? If you feel the need to gather with like-minded people, why not go out for a beer? Or come up with another kind of pleasant get-together?

    These assemblies are simply not something I could ever imagine attending. If someone gets something out of them, good for her. But the idea of sitting in a gathering which so closely resembles a religious one makes me shudder.

    Also, I don’t think these will last very long. Religious people need to be told over and over again that their faith is true. Otherwise it wouldn’t propagate. One cannot observe nature and come to the conclusion that a religion is true. That’s why religions have to convince every generation that their specific crazy beliefs are true, despite complete lack of evidence. This is why religious groups need to gather; to strengthen their belief in the shared fairytale. But atheists do not need to be convinced that their conclusion of a god’s non-existence is true. It’s a conclusion everyone can come up with on their own, without someone else whispering it in your ear. We don’t need the reaffirmation that we are correct. I see these assemblies as a fad, an activity that has sprung up as a fun anti-reaction to religious ones. They are kind of like the Flying Spaghetti Monster version of religious sermons. But because at their core they are not actually needed, they will at some point fade away.

  7. I think I’d be interested enough to go to one such meeting, just to see what it was like. I agree with Aztec #11, in that they creep me out as well, but I would like to see for myself.

    The only time I’m ever in the company of a large group of atheists at the one time is the occasional Writers’ Festival , or the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. These are both fairly pricy so it doesn’t happen often.

  8. They don’t bash believers…

    Jones – “if you think about church, there’s very little that’s bad”

    Sunday Assembly sounds like a “feel good” gathering of like minds to showcase atheism in a positive light. Herd them cats. But, please don’t get any more mellow yellow, lest you become Church of Cheech and Chong lol

    ‘Church of Beethoven’, founded by Felix Wurman 5 years ago, is similar to Sunday Assembly. Wurman, a non-religious musician, wanted to build a community around music. He has since passed away, but C o B continues – brief interview via NPR.

  9. God help us all.
    These idiots are playing right into the hands of those who dismiss atheism as just another religion.
    What’s next, A-meters? Donate enough money and star in a few Hollywood movies and get upgraded to Operating Atheist?

  10. Id be curious enough to go but so far it looks like a community group that can herd and pet each other’s insecurities, sing, eat cake and drink tea… hmm maybe church is a good title for it. Anyway the only reason id be interested is to make a stand, apart from a cardboard box being handed around (to collect funds for the website?) it looked to me like little else of any importance was being discussed. If it were a meeting that addressed important issues to raise awareness within the community and globally, if they had some petitions and action plans to help eradicate dangerous religious belief like child genital mutilation (yes both male and female), faith healing, religious intolerance to gay/bi/trans sexes, oppression of women and archaic policy steeped in religious ideology then id go with bells on. They could start a wholly atheistic charity that acknowledges atheist as some of the most charitable people in our community, run food/toy drives in their community for the underprivileged so those in need who are put off from going to a christian organization for the help have somewhere to go without guilt.

    If this is part of the plan then im all for it, get rid of the religious connotations, I have a sense of humor and humor can be a good tool for atheist but there are times to be serious.

  11. About 15 years ago I went to an ‘atheist’ church a few times. It wasn’t creepy at all. Very humanistic and similar to a Universal Unitarian service. As others have said it was more just to be around like-minded people. That can especially be useful in the land of the other type of mega churches. In the end I just don’t need to have that communal aspect that many people seem to need. As far as why they called it a church, at the time it was explained it helped with the tax situation.

  12. I will make another post since my first post was removed. I am not sure what to think of this really except to say that it doesn’t seem like a good idea. As many on here have already said it just gives credence to religious nuts who call us just another religion.

  13. I would never manage to drag myself out to one of those on a Sunday morning. Better if it was to brighten up a boring old weekday evening. And there should be drinks – all kinds. When I used to be in church, I used to wish I could have a nice hot cup of coffee while I was sitting there.

  14. I can’t be the only one here thinking this (or have been thinking this) but how long until we witness atheists committing crimes against others in the “name” of atheism? We live in a fascinating time for defending free thought but I’m not naive enough to think our species is incapable of screwing it up. I have no answers, except to trudge on without fooling oneself as much as possible.

    Mike

  15. I don’t understand why people on this site are so negative about it. As far as I can see, they are doing no harm and may well be doing good. Many atheists miss the sense of community they used to get from being in a church. Not being able to believe in a god, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy singing with others and feeling like you have a common sense of purpose.

    • In reply to #24 by currerbell:

      I don’t understand why people on this site are so negative about it. As far as I can see, they are doing no harm and may well be doing good.

      It is the thoughtlessness of how they are doing it. A little bit of consideration for those others who also call themselves atheists, who are concerned with better accessing truth as much as making themselves feel better would be nice. The intellectual values of we others are trashed (or rather treated as trash) by use of incoherent terms like “Atheist Church”. This ghastly muddling warm fuzzy cuddle topped off with fake religiosity makes it effortlessly easy for Christians to believe Atheism is riddled with dogma and atheists merely “Lost Christians”.

      Why should I be tarred with this brush, just because they were too lazy to think things through or consult a little? I certainly don’t mind them saying singing in church was nice so come here if you liked it but don’t believe. But using “Church”

      Church-

      Origin:

      Old English cir(i)ce, cyr(i)ce, related to Dutch kerk and German Kirche, based on medieval Greek kurikon, from Greek kuriakon (dōma) ‘Lord’s (house)’, from kurios ‘master or lord’. Compare with kirk

      This disregard for meaning is horrible and undoes others efforts towards clarity.

      Further, by not taking care of the foundations of their movement, by not carefully defining it, I fear and suspect that they will come to accumulate dogma. All such enterprises need rules, but by identifying as Atheist rather than the fuller and more honest description of Humanist, they may set back clear argumentation around Atheism and its easy comprehension for years, especially in the US.

      Atheism plus was likewise a serious blot on the concept of Atheism, trying to leverage the brand for its own political ends, and as so often in such group defining activities, excluded people with insufficient cause.

      An atheist lacks a belief in God or gods. It is hugely important for many thinking atheists that the concept remains at this simple and most useful level. You may presume nothing else about me from this tag.

      • In other words, because the Sunday Assembly folks don’t think and act exactly like you, they are no good and should go away, lest you be “tarred with this brush.”

        Seems to me the definition of an atheist is someone who believes in no gods. Sanderson, et al, certainly fit that definition. Anything else seems like natural human diversity that’s found in all sorts of other human enterprises.

        In reply to #25 by phil rimmer:

        In reply to #24 by currerbell:

        I don’t understand why people on this site are so negative about it. As far as I can see, they are doing no harm and may well be doing good.

        It is the thoughtlessness of how they are doing it. A little bit of consideration for those others who also call themselves a…

  16. Ah, thanks to this Salon article, it is much clearer to me why Sunday Assembly’s message has seemed hazy all along. After kind of a goofy start, they’re getting serious, now that their tiny grass-root idea has exploded.

    To wit – “how Atheist should our church be?”

  17. In reply to #28 by Sara:

    In other words, because the Sunday Assembly folks don’t think and act exactly like you…..

    I have been very very specific about my unhappiness, the better to have my woes listened to and possibly responded to. I have argued about terminology and wished for better. I have voiced concern over the association of dogma with the term Atheism. Why should they not be mindful of these things? Why can’t they enter into a proper dialogue over this? They don’t.

    I have talked specifics. You have entirely imagined-

    they are no good and should go away, lest you be “tarred with this brush.”

    I require no one to go away. I request they have less lack of thought for other atheists.

    More to the point I was trying to explain to currerbell why so many folk here are somewhat negative about how this whole thing is rolling out. I see currerbell is not happy to have the answer to her/his question.

  18. Phil has a point about the promotion of the idea that atheism is ‘just another religion’. I agree this could be an issue, but there is an equally valid counter point.

    One of the biggest criticisms about atheism or humanism being inclusive is it’s lack of innate social community.
    It’s often said that this is the one unique thing that religion provides, that some people would find necessary to living a fulfilling life, and therefore the people who feel they require this level of community support also feel excluded from atheism or humanism on such emotional grounds. They’ve been brought up in this religious community and can’t do without it, even if they would otherwise lose their faith.

    These “Atheist Churches” prove that this does not have to be unique to religion.

    It’s swings and roundabout really, the arguments being addressed are both gross misconceptions, but addressing either one promotes the argument of the other.

    “Atheists lack community” -start an Atheist Church- “Atheism is just another religion”.

    As either argument is just as vacuous, I don’t think it’s worth seriously addressing either. Atheism only means one thing, a lack of belief in gods, and Humanism is only marginally more involved than that. I think the important thing is to demonstrate that atheists, secularists, humanists or whatever, are just as human, and just as good citizens, as anyone else.

    Whether that includes providing a community or not is up to the individual.
    However, in-fighting will solve nothing, even though we have the excuse that atheism is not a creed and everyone is individual unlike religions who are supposed to be exclusive and consistent. ‘Live and let live’ is the best policy in my opinion, after all, if we can’t even get on with our fellow atheists, how can we be expected to get on with, and in turn portray a good lifestyle to, the religious?

    • In reply to #31 by Seraphor:

      I’m skeptical of the claims about community. I doubt the religious have it like they and others say they do. Church attendance has been in decline after all and not everyone -or even most?- is leaving because they suddenly don’t believe.

      if we can’t even get on with our fellow atheists, how can we be expected to get on with, and in turn portray a good lifestyle to, the religious?

      …ye shall know them by their fruits. ;-P

      • In reply to #32 by Sean_W:

        In reply to #31 by Seraphor:

        I’m skeptical of the claims about community. I doubt the religious have it like they and others say they do. Church attendance has been in decline after all and not everyone -or even most?- are leaving because they suddenly don’t believe.

        It all depends on the church and the community but I have seen many friends and family who get a great deal of support from their church. In some cases, e.g., my mom and the RCC the community is more of a side benefit. Most of the aiding goes from people who volunteer time to support the church and as they do that they get to know each other and do each other favors, almost in spite of the church.

        But in other churches it really is a core part of what the church is all about. A friend of mine is a born again Christian and she belongs to a small church of other evangelicals. It was actually kind of cute, I was her “dirty little secret” when we were going together, she was embarassed to tell people she was dating an atheist. But I was very impressed with the community that her church provided and in her case it wasn’t just informal, the whole mission of the church seemed to be around the community first. Even when she “came out of the closet” and introduced me to some of her born again friends they were actually surprisingly friendly (of course never missing a chance to tell me “the good news” that I was missing out on).

        I’m not claiming that this church was a model for all churches, I think it was the exception, my friend was very bright and she sought out a church that had people who were more tolerant and educated than average. But my point is this stuff about community is real and when you read some of the history of religion it is clear that it has always been a big part of what motivated people to belong to a religion, the family and community bonding that a church can provide.

        • In reply to #33 by Red Dog:

          Thanks Red Dog, I think that’s right.

          My skepticism is about the scale and benefits real vs perceived of the community which is asserted to be the great achievement of churches in discussions like these. I’d like to take a closer look. I wonder if someone has?

    • In reply to #31 by Seraphor:

      Phil has a point about the promotion of the idea that atheism is ‘just another religion’. I agree this could be an issue, but there is an equally valid counter point.

      I moved from identifying as Agnostic to Identifying as Atheist precisely because I thought that the very idea of God was morally corrosive, that it curtailed my moral deliberations without reason or evidence, and that living consciously without such a possibility could make me a better person. Being an Atheist doesn’t make people more good, but it did help me focus better on trying to be so. But…

      I think the important thing is to demonstrate that atheists, secularists, humanists or whatever, are just as human, and just as good citizens, as anyone else.

      …demonstrating Goodness in this way is hideous. Don’t be sociable/go to church to show people you are good. Be sociable to be sociable. Do good to do good. Help charities to help charities. Don’t crow about it either…

      It is profoundly important to live a more honest life not less.

      I’m very happy that Atheists get together and do their thang. My complaint is the thoughtless use of the tag in the specific context, considering the damage done to other Atheists who are desperate not to be dissed as another bunch of badge wearers. This complaint is misunderstood by the Alain de Botton’s of this world and strawmanned as a simple antipathy. This is insulting and conveniently fails to address the real complaint. (No-one here yet has.)

      There are plenty of choices of other tags, maybe some that are less divisive than Atheist. Humanist is much more appropriate. It already has a gentle and mutable dogma to it. It is attractive to Quakers and Unitarians who may delight in a place to come together, thinking mostly the same thoughts as their Atheist comrades.

      Religion poisons everything in many different ways and the religious as well as some non religious people can see it. Most catastrophic is the divisiveness of its group making. The biggest most generous and open quasi-religious group, if you must have a group, would be the least poisoned to my mind. Both atheists and free thinking religious types can be humanists. Humanism is the tag I urge (and now is the time for me and others to shout it before too much hurt is done). I believe “Humanism” would be delighted at the move.

  19. At the end, they say:”With love and joy—and tea and cake.” – awww. I think it’s awesome that stuff like this is happening, period. It’s exactly the kind of think I don’t like, but I know lots of people love to bond and celebrate shit. Let them do it with-out snobbish complaining.

    • In reply to #36 by KRKBAB:

      At the end, they say:”With love and joy—and tea and cake.” – awww. I think it’s awesome that stuff like this is happening, period. It’s exactly the kind of think I don’t like, but I know lots of people love to bond and celebrate shit. Let them do it with-out snobbish complaining.

      What about the non snobbish complaints?

      Could what their doing be done even better?

  20. @ comment #30 by Phill Rimmer- You actually wrote this: “I require no one to go away. I request they have less lack of thought for other atheists.”- WHY? Should non-accommodationists (as I) care if accommodationists feel like we’re not thinking about them enough?
    That sounds like whinging theist’s talk

  21. In reply to #38 by KRKBAB:

    @ comment #30 by Phill Rimmer- You actually wrote this: “I require no one to go away. I request they have less lack of thought for other atheists.”- WHY? Should non-accommodationists (as I) care if accommodationists feel like we’re not thinking about them enough?
    That sounds like whinging theist’s…

    Whoever says theists can’t make polite requests?

    WHY? Should non-accommodationists (as I) care if accommodationists feel like we’re not thinking about them enough?

    What!? This isn’t about liking or being liked its a discussion about maintaining the clarity of an argument. What’s with all this emotional stuff people keep dredging up?

  22. I understand that this is based on humor, hence the comedians who started it. Unfortunately, bringing it here to America only fuels the fire on the right that we are religiously based. You know it’s true, since this article came out, that’s all I’ve been hearing. I would prefer to see people putting their efforts into supporting organizations like American Atheists, Richard Dawkins site, Freedom From Religion, Sam Harris, Lawrence Kraus (you get the picture) in stopping the madness called “Religion”. It frightens me that so many children are being raised into this culture as I was.

    Why not invite our critical thinkers such as Richard to your community on a “Sunday” to speak, to debate? I would venture some of those so called believers just might attend and snap out of the fog they call heaven. May I recommend your meeting be held across the street from a mega church? :)

    I live in Alaska, where we are pretty much like the deep south with religiously inspired crazies like Sarah Palin. One can only hope someone like Richard Dawkins could come and rip a you know what into this state. I will proudly sit in the front row. Cheers!

  23. I do not like this at all. I find it silly at best and an aquiescence to those who claim atheists are just another religion at worst. I cannot even understand why this is necessary or promoted. Please tell me that most people who do not espouse a belief in gods, goddesses, godlings, or other supernatural powers(otherwise defined as atheists) would never join or support anything called a church. Get some better hobbies and more enlightened friends!

  24. Calling it a church is feeding into those who call atheism a religion. There must be something along the lines of conflux or confluence that would better express the intents of the group.

    • In reply to #44 by flyingdetriues:

      Calling it a church is feeding into those who call atheism a religion. There must be something along the lines of conflux or confluence that would better express the intents of the group.

      Objecting to it being called a church gives them ammo, too, you realise? “Aha! They have dogma: no churches. They hate community! They’re anarchists who want to burn everything! They hate puppies!”
      The thing is, they’ll say whatever sticks and whatever they think will. The idea that they all will work within the confines of rational argument any more than absolutely necessary to sound plausible is laughable. And it’s not exactly the strongest argument, is it?

      We don’t have churches

      ???

      ATHEISM IS NOT A RELIGION!

      It doesn’t really work because there are religions that don’t have churches. I’m sure they’ll try to use it, but they’ll try to use anything, flick ’till it sticks. Don’t let them manipulate you.

  25. A few thoughts on the OP and the Comments, from a born-once anti-theist with not much need for a Sunday Assembly.
    I’ve been in 5 houses of worship for weddings, funerals and to become an (atheist) godfather to an adopted girl of 10.
    I didn’t enjoy the goddy or faithy bits at all – or participate in them – but went out of respect to family and friends.
    In 1971 I went to a Humanist Society Meeting in Birmingham and it was a good, fun evening meeting interesting folk.
    I’d enjoy meeting with secular humanist folk – if I could only find out who they were – in a friendly local place in north Toronto.

    I try to understand that us non-theists are all different, and have a multitude of psychological and social needs in our lives.
    Those who are recovering theists or agnostics in strongly theist family or peer groups may need friendly exposure to non-faith.
    Showing local, state and global level religion-soaked societies that secular humanists are actually good folk is a needed endeavor.
    So, I say let those who are on the side of reality, reason and truth seek and follow different ways of increasing their happiness.

    “I just wish they wouldn’t use the words “atheist” or “church.”

    Although the founders used these words early on to explain their idea in fairly secular UK, the only places you see it since is in media mis-characterisations and strawmen, especially in heavily theistic US.

    “If you feel the need to gather with like-minded people, why not go out for a beer?” or “If I want to get together with like minded people I’ll go to a pub.”

    So, only drinking adults are allowed to congregate to discuss reality – and how would you know who to invite, plus where would you find the (private) room for a growing crowd?

    “Or come up with another kind of pleasant get-together?”

    I think these Sunday Assemblies are that, and hope they grow and evolve to be even better in their own locales.

    ” I think the important thing is to demonstrate that atheists, secularists, humanists or whatever, are just as human, and just as good citizens, as anyone else.”

    What better way than to have open, friendly, productive, family-oriented community gatherings?

    “Why not invite our critical thinkers such as Richard to your community on a “Sunday” to speak, to debate?”

    You think that a once in a lifetime 2hrs of discussion is as productive as locals gathering weekly to discuss local needs?

    “I was there and it was fun and interesting!!! Loved being in one room with so many other Atheists.”

    That’s what we need to reach tipping points in social visibility and legal acceptance as equal citizens in societies.

    “The point of The Assembly is for non-believers to have a place to congregate and socialize.”

    As I said, for local folk and families to meet voluntarily and openly without pressure, obligation or any threats.

    “I do not like this at all. I find it silly at best and an acquiescence to those who claim atheists are just another religion at worst.

    So only those who think and feel as you do are acceptable? And what the faith-heads think they know about us shouldn’t rule our actions – they developed many ways of doing that back when they were really in control.

    “I think I’d be interested enough to go to one such meeting, just to see what it was like.”

    I will also try this out if and when it comes to my area, and I’ll hopefully be pleasantly surprised at who shows up.

    “These idiots are playing right into the hands of those who dismiss atheism as just another religion.”

    You would try to restrict those with that kind of need due to what ignorant, irrational religiots think they know?

    “As far as why they called it a church, at the time it was explained it helped with the tax situation.”

    There are many places where getting a tax-free non-profit organization going almost requires this compromise.

    ” Many atheists miss the sense of community they used to get from being in a church.”

    I don’t, but I’m not going to dogmatically dismiss those who have the need to take intermediate steps to freedom.

    ” The intellectual values of we others are trashed by use of incoherent terms like Atheist Church.”

    If you look at the Sunday Assembly website and their declared ethos, they are quite clear what they are trying to accomplish, so don’t be distracted by the ‘atheist church’ or ‘another religion’ strawmen thrown out by the ‘belief in belief’ media coverage.

    “All such enterprises need rules, but by identifying as Atheist rather than the fuller and more honest description of Humanist…”

    The Sunday Assembly is very much a secular humanist effort – read their own stuff and not just what others write about them.

    “I do not like this at all . . . I cannot even understand why this is necessary or promoted.”

    This reads like the kind of blinkered, self-centered, in-group-only stuff we expect from the religious.

    Bottom line – there’s more than one way to be rational, plus we’re all on the same side in efforts to cut the chains of delusional mind-slavery, to help our species grow up from its fear-filled infancy, to face reality and take responsibility for our actions…. Mac.

  26. I have to join the negative side of this. I know that others have found this to be the sticking point as well.

    “and we’re going to start a church to prove it,” said Zuckerman.”

    It’s as if we can’t do without the societal controls, all getting together being mutually supportive, telling each other how right we are to be doing what we do, nice music, touching, hugging. It sounds no different to Martin Luther or John Wesley, even to the extent of doing it on Sunday. This is a church in competition with other churches, and ipso facto, tarred with the same brush.

    I thought the whole idea was to realise that churches, their dead ideas, their control over their congregations, are institutions to be relegated to the dust of an history of a superstitious age, not starting new ones, this time with an un-god.

  27. Sorry, I just noticed this. The name of this get together is being Capitalised Already:

    The Assembly is for non-believers to have a place ….

    Just like “The Cathedral,” and “The Synagogue,” and “The Mosque,” and “The Temple.” I don’t think the previous reference to Orwell was too harsh, despite it’s being accused as being so. How far down the slippery slope to return to a religion, albeit yet another one, has this “Assembly” already gone.

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