11 November 2013

Mega-churches for atheists

From the StarTribune:
Nearly three dozen gatherings dubbed "atheist mega-churches" by supporters and detractors have sprung up around the U.S. and Australia — with more to come — 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...

They don't bash believers but want to find a new way to meet likeminded people, engage in the community and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith...

"If you think about church, there's very little that's bad. It's singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people — and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?"..

Sunday Assembly — whose motto is Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More — taps into that universe of people who left their faith but now miss the community church provided... It also plays into a feeling among some atheists that they should make themselves more visible...

"In the U.S., there's a little bit of a feeling that if you're not religious, you're not patriotic. I think a lot of secular people say, 'Hey, wait a minute. We are charitable, we are good people, we're good parents and we are just as good citizens as you and we're going to start a church to prove it.."

During the service, attendees stomped their feet, clapped their hands and cheered as Jones and Evans led the group through rousing renditions of "Lean on Me," ''Here Comes the Sun" and other hits that took the place of gospel songs. Congregants dissolved into laughter at a get-to-know-you game that involved clapping and slapping the hands of the person next to them and applauded as members of the audience spoke about community service projects they had started in LA.


  1. The first paragraph made it clear this was written by someone who has never been to a Christian mega Church.

    "It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Several hundred people, including families with small children, packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational talk and some quiet reflection"

    Trust me on this - a typical Sunday morning at a 'mega-church' includes many more than 'several hundred' in attendance. Heck, the average suburban Catholic parish has several hundred in attendance at multiple masses.

    It seems like this is a nice group of people getting together. Why not focus on that? Why try to call it a 'mega-church'?

  2. One backdraw of creating a church for atheists is that it supports the claim from some creationists that non believers are a religious group and that the scientific theories they accept are just another set of religious beliefs.

    1. To me, as a former Atheist (now, a Christian pastor), all it confirms to me is the need for community. It is a wonderful thing if these folks get together, and rally around doing good for themselves and their community.

  3. I find this gimmicky and strange. Atheism is not driven by a mission to gather, proselytize, or any other religious activity. As a comment above suggests, this will only convince others that this is a "belief system," when that just isn't the case for any of the atheists I know.

    Think of it this way: If you don't play golf and have no interest in it, do you feel compelled to form a club of non-golfers? Why on earth would you care to do that? And what this article is describing sounds like creating a country club for non-golfers, which is baffling. I completely understand Roy's comment about doing good for the community, but there are many existing organizations that do this, and they are supported by religious believers and atheists alike. Emulating religious rituals just sends a confusing message to those who already are antagonized by or skeptical of atheism.

    1. One response would be to use your own analogy: "sounds like creating a country club for non-golfers, which is baffling." Non-golfers are frequently members at golf country clubs and are welcome there. They use the country club as a social venue, have parties there, organize non-golf events for children, and have dinner with neighbors.

      Non-believers who do not feel similarly welcome in conventional churches might therefore logically form a club of their own.

  4. I think I would attend this atheist church, if there were one nearby to attend. I miss the sense of community, and occasionally will go to a nearby Lutheran church, but I just feel strange there because I don't believe in it- like I have some terrible secret! I still believe in kindness and community, though. It would be nice.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...