Atheists Embrace Megachurch-Style Services

One of the movement's taglines: "Good is Great"

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Jae C. Hong / AP

Attendees sing a song at the Sunday Assembly, a godless congregation founded by British comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, on Nov. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles.

While evangelical Christians are known for celebrating faith in God at mega-churches, now atheists are celebrating their lack of faith in God in a “mega-church” setting.

The Associated Press profiled the Sunday Assembly, a movement started in London in January 2013 that’s spearheaded by two British comedians, Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, who are bringing atheists together in parts of Great Britain, Melbourne, Australia, San Diego, Nashville, and New York. On a recent Sunday in Los Angeles:

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.

Sunday Assembly — mottos for which include “live better, help often, wonder more” and “Good is Great” — has been hosting celebrations of non-belief throughout the U.S. to promote a crowdfunding campaign that aims to raise $800,000 to fund future gatherings. Perhaps they are counting on the twenty percent of Americans who do not identify with any religion to keep the movement alive.

Atheist-Megachurches-1

Jae C. Hong / AP

An attendee grabs a brochure at the Sunday Assembly in L.A.

However, it is worth noting that most atheists are not part of organized groups and “are not obsessed with fighting religion or arguing about it,” Phil Zuckerman, a sociology professor at Pitzer College, told TIME. In June, the American Atheists erected a public monument with Founding Fathers quotes alongside a monument to the Ten Commandments at the Bradford County Courthouse in Starke, Florida, near Jacksonville.

But as Zuckerman pointed out to TIME — and to the AP in its recent profile — both the monument and Sunday Assembly may help debunk two common assumptions about atheists, which is that they have “no morals” and are “not patriotic.”

MORE: Unveiling America’s First Public Monument to Atheism

6 comments
mary.waterton
mary.waterton

The important thing to notice is that atheists are finally admitting that atheism is a religion. In fact, it's the federally mandated state religion per the rulings of the SCOTUS. As you can see, "separation of church and state" only applies when the religion is Christianity ... not when the religion is atheism.

HeatherBaker
HeatherBaker

"it is worth noting that most atheists are not part of organized groups and are not obsessed with fighting religion or arguing about it".... what assembly did the author attend?  The article, although filled with false information about atheists and promoting mis-truths and misunderstanding, clearly states that the atheists gathered together to sing, play games, discuss community betterment and get to know one another.  No where in the article does it mention ANY anti-religion speech or intent.  Most atheists are not anti-religion, just anti-religion propaganda.  We are tired of suffering having other people's beliefs forced down our throats while we are told to keep our beliefs to ourselves because they offend religious people.  No one cares about their beliefs offending us.

safrikaan
safrikaan

This article is just full of lies. Why so much dishonesty.

First, its not a mega-church. A mega-church has over 2000 people attending it. This had several hundred. So thats is your first intentional lie in this article.


The next lie that you tell is that the "atheist church is about celebrating their lack of faith". THAT IS A LIE! A complete bald faced lie. If you go to their website they are very clear on what they celebrate. They celebrate life and they state that anyone with any belief is welcome. Atheists and theists.

Well, now that I know that Time intentionally lies, Im ganna take you guys as seriously as Faux News. 0 Journalism here, just lies about atheists.


sixtymile
sixtymile

Finally, evangelical atheism finds it's voice and recognizes it is not belief-neutral. Should help SCOTUS make the right call.

Derpollisauce
Derpollisauce

@mary.waterton 

It's not a religion if they are not worshiping anything. By your logic, video games are also a religion, if people gather together to play them.

13
13

@sixtymile watch out, you sound ignorant. Your stupid remarks might be met with criticism.