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lafayettemister
Posted: Monday, November 11, 2013 10:20:14 AM

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Atheist church

LOS ANGELES (AP) — 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. The only thing missing was God.

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.

On Sunday, the inaugural Sunday Assembly in Los Angeles attracted several hundred people 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 new Sunday Assemblies. They hope to raise more than $800,000 that will help atheists launch their pop-up congregations around the world. So far, they have raised about $50,000.

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.

Jones got the first inkling for the idea while leaving a Christmas carol concert six years ago.

Attendees play a game with each other at the Sunday Assembly, a godless congregation founded by Brit …
"There was so much about it that I loved, but it's a shame because at the heart of it, it's something I don't believe in," Jones said. "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?"

The movement dovetails with new studies that show an increasing number of Americans are drifting from any religious affiliation.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a study last year that found 20 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15 percent in the last five years. Pew researchers stressed, however, that the category also encompassed majorities of people who said they believed in God but had no ties with organized religion and people who consider themselves "spiritual" but not "religious."

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, said Phil Zuckerman, a professor of secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont.

It also plays into a feeling among some atheists that they should make themselves more visible. For example, last December, an atheist in Santa Monica created an uproar — and triggered a lawsuit — when he set up a godless display amid Christian nativity scenes that were part of a beloved, decades-old tradition.

British comedians and co-founders of the Sunday Assembly, Sanderson Jones, right, and Pippa Evans si …
"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," said Zuckerman. "It's still a minority, but there's enough of them now."

That impulse, however, has raised the ire of those who have spent years pushing back against the idea that atheism itself is a religion.

"The idea that you're building an entire organization based on what you don't believe, to me, sounds like an offense against sensibility," said Michael Luciano, a self-described atheist who was raised Roman Catholic but left when he became disillusioned.

"There's something not OK with appropriating all of this religious language, imagery and ritual for atheism," said Luciano, who blogged about the movement at the site policymic.com.

That sentiment didn't seem to detract from the excitement Sunday at the inaugural meeting in Los Angeles.

Michael Harvest, 75, listens to a message at the Sunday Assembly, a godless congregation founded by …
Hundreds of atheists and atheist-curious packed into a Hollywood auditorium for a boisterous service filled with live music, moments of reflection, an "inspirational talk" about forgotten — but important — inventors and scientists and some stand-up comedy.

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.

At the end, volunteers passed cardboard boxes for donations as attendees mingled over coffee and pastries and children played on the floor.

For atheist Elijah Senn, the morning was perfect.

"I think the image that we have put forward in a lot of ways has been a scary, mean, we want to tear down the walls, we want to do destructive things kind of image is what a lot of people have of us," he said. "I'm really excited to be able to come together and show that it's not about destruction. It's about making things and making things better."

====================

Personally, I think this is a great idea!! Bringing together like-minded people to come together, meet, pool their resources to combat a common problem... all working to a greater good. Anything that brings people together in happiness and gets people to make new and positive relationships is a good thing. Even though I'm not an atheist, I hope this catches on.





When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser. Socrates
kornslayer1
Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 3:24:21 PM

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Well, I guess in my opinion, for any religion, or lack of in this case. You don't need to go to church, it's your beliefs, and you don't have to go there to validate them.

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dpw
Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 4:32:55 PM

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Prominent British comedians! Who are they? I've never heard of them!
Guest
Posted: Saturday, December 07, 2013 4:47:12 PM

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kornslayer1 wrote:
Well, I guess in my opinion, for any religion, or lack of in this case. You don't need to go to church, it's your beliefs, and you don't have to go there to validate them.


I have to agree with you...
Weavindreams
Posted: Saturday, December 07, 2013 5:31:58 PM

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I started laughing when I read the title. I believe the word is "oxymoron". I'd LOVE to hear a Sarah Silverman routine about this, my guess is it would be a laugh riot! (Then again, I enjoy pretty much EVERYTHING about Sarah Silverman! Gorgeous face, FINE bod, great legs and a raunchy sense of humor; now there's a woman I have fallen madly in LUST over!)

Rembacher
Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2013 9:46:45 AM

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I think it's a good idea. It's good for people to feel a part of their community. I don't agree with a lot that happens in most christian churches; but I think the idea of getting together and socializing with like-minded people is one of the positives. Whether you call it a church, temple, shrine, or gathering place, I don't see it as an oxymoron. It's people getting together, connecting with their community and trying to improve/inspire their lives.
Guest
Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2013 10:56:01 AM

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Church definition: a building used for public Christian worship
Christian: a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings
atheist: a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.

Atheist church, if that's not an oxymoron, I don't know what is.
dpw
Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2013 4:20:23 PM

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Magma_Boils_333 wrote:
Church definition: a building used for public Christian worship
Christian: a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings
atheist: a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.

Atheist church, if that's not an oxymoron, I don't know what is.

I didn't understand the use of "church", surely that's the last thing it should be called!
JasonM
Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2013 4:25:46 PM

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Probably from a Tax standpoint - there are seven criteria used, and if the organization meets at least three, then for tax-status in the US, they are considered a 'Church' - and there are a couple Atheist groups who use the word 'Church' in their name and a case several years ago to deny them this was set aside.

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dpw
Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2013 4:54:26 PM

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JasonM wrote:
Probably from a Tax standpoint - there are seven criteria used, and if the organization meets at least three, then for tax-status in the US, they are considered a 'Church' - and there are a couple Atheist groups who use the word 'Church' in their name and a case several years ago to deny them this was set aside.

That really doesn't matter as Quakers, Muslims, Jews, Jehova's and others don't refer to their place of worship as a church.
I would have thought that the last place an atheist wants to go to is a church.
Guest
Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2013 6:22:25 PM

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No, church is the last thing I'd wanna be a part of either. Gives rise to bullshit hierarchy and a constant small minded tit for tat as is prevalent in these forums. Furtherance of an ideology and new way of thinking should come with a new way of sharing. Which should be obvious on both counts.

Any further view points will only lead only to further elaboration by small minded individuals who seem prevalent at this point.
DLizze
Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2013 9:33:12 PM

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The only thing new about this is it is calling itself an "atheist church". The Ethical Society has been in existence as a humanist organization, meeting on Sundays since the late 1800's, when it was formed by Dr. Felix Adler. I attended the Baltimore Ethical Society Sunday School as a child. The Sunday school curriculum consisted of studying thye various world's philosophic thought, beginning with the ancients (Druids, Norse, etc,) and working up through all the various religious beliefs held by mankind to the present. BY the time I graduated from the Sunday school I had a solid foundation in comparative religion, and was able to make an informed decision about my own belief system.

The overriding emphasis in Ethical Culture is that regardless of one's personal beliefs in deity, or afterlife, one should act with humanitarian compassion in one's current life.

I remember in particular one adult member, VIctor Saccaroff, who was greatly concerned because although raised in the Jewish faith, because of his incarceration at Bergen Belson, he had lost his faith in God. His daughter chose to return to the faith of her forebears, keeps a Kosher kitchen, and is an active member of a conservative congregation. Other children who attended the Sunday School with me include a member of the Ba'hai Faith, a Southern Baptist, and a practicing Catholic. So far as I know, I am one of the few who chose to become agnostic. So far as I know, the only thing we all retained from our time together in that Sunday school is a deep distaste for segregation and racism in any form. (At the time we attended, The Baltimore Ethical Society was the only integrated church in Baltimore.)

I remember a plaque that was mounted behind the podium in the adult meeting room. It said, "The place where men meet to seek the highest is holy ground." I think it is well that we should remember that, because that is, I believe, what defines a "church".

"There's only three tempos: slow, medium and fast. When you get between in the cracks, ain't nuthin' happenin'." Ben Webster
Guest
Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2013 10:35:08 PM

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I pledged a fraternity, where community and brotherly love were the continuous mantra, yet, during "mixers" and other gatherings the only thing it meant was using young women, or having a venue for maladjusted males to talk to women. With the casual asides towards community service.

Personally, I'm tired of any crutch. Take out the "T" and rearrange. A crutch to the heavens, or the heaven between her thighs. A crutch used by any church, or person using the church as a crutch for disdainful acts in the guise of "higher" solemnity is boring. It's a broken record. It plays in many languages, yet helps no one and professes to help everyone in their own way. With added dollars, yen, or Euros, it becomes helpful, as long as guided by divinity.

Mysterious, and void of introspection.

"You don't know me."

Like online dating, Sunday rants, or wedding ceremonies conducted by those engaged. It's a futile calm ebb from what should just be.

Be good, be just, be kind, and be treated in kind. It's sad that we need churches of any kind at all to remind each other that we should be.

Weavindreams
Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2013 11:16:51 PM

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JasonM wrote:
Probably from a Tax standpoint - there are seven criteria used, and if the organization meets at least three, then for tax-status in the US, they are considered a 'Church' - and there are a couple Atheist groups who use the word 'Church' in their name and a case several years ago to deny them this was set aside.


Sadly the inability or total unwillingness of all too much of our judiciary to apply simple common sense when making it's rulings is one of the WORST and unfortunately least curable of our nation's problems! Nevermind, the problems that result FROM it!

LASARDaddy
Posted: Monday, December 09, 2013 12:33:46 AM

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The problem is though, who's common sense do we use? I won't accept yours and I seriously doubt you'd accept mine. In that country with only 2 citizens, no decision based on common sense is possible. That's the dilemma now.

I'm right there with Highwayman and DLizze. I'm a Taoist and try to live the philosophy. Pretty much most all religions contain a great deal of Taoist philosophy. Live your life so you do as much good as possible and the least harm. Winnie the Pooh was a Taoist.

I read, I listen to people's words, I ask questions and then I make up my own mind. I decide for me, no one else in the universe. That and the ability to let everyone else do the same thing should be our goal as a society. That's freedom. Churches and governments can not tolerate that

I am always a gentleman.
Weavindreams
Posted: Monday, December 09, 2013 1:17:00 AM

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LasarDaddy wrote:
The problem is though, who's common sense do we use? I won't accept yours and I seriously doubt you'd accept mine. In that country with only 2 citizens, no decision based on common sense is possible. That's the dilemma now.

I'm right there with Highwayman and DLizze. I'm a Taoist and try to live the philosophy. Pretty much most all religions contain a great deal of Taoist philosophy. Live your life so you do as much good as possible and the least harm. Winnie the Pooh was a Taoist.

I read, I listen to people's words, I ask questions and then I make up my own mind. I decide for me, no one else in the universe. That and the ability to let everyone else do the same thing should be our goal as a society. That's freedom. Churches and governments can not tolerate that


Understood, on the other hand, as atheist CHURCH is an OBVIOUS oxymoron, it doesn't require an interpreter to know that such an ORGANIZATION does not QUALIFY could not qualify by it's very nature as A CHURCH. Therefor NO tax breaks that apply specifically TOO "churches" SHOULD be allowed. Nothing complex or philosophical, just plain simple common sense regardless of your chosen belief system.

Magical_felix
Posted: Monday, December 09, 2013 1:23:04 AM

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lafayettemister wrote:


One day you are going to look back at your life and you are going to be frustrated at how much you regret wasting so much time reading and reposting shit like this when you could have been out doing anything else.



LASARDaddy
Posted: Monday, December 09, 2013 2:00:43 AM

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What do you mean one day? I do that already. That one day is in my past.

But, at 71, having 11 bones in my spine fused, 50 to 60% of the feeling in my legs gone and my hands crippled with arthritis it's difficult to keep the activity level to high.

Now, here on this wonderful site, I get to sort through a lot of crap finding wonderful new ideas and thoughts, seeing through others eyes sometimes and offering my view. Meeting new people, talking and getting to know one another, learning all these new things. I am a knowledge sponge it's just that it's pretty full and some has dripped out.

I grand father someone brother others and be other things for others, I love it.

As long as the internet exists my views will be visible to anyone who looks for them. Of course so will all the other crap but I find amazing new stuff all the time so they can too.

I'm writing most of this and a lot of other stuff because a couple of my kids asked me to. And, yeah, I might include the stories I write here. If I don't I'll tell at least 2'of them how to find them if anyone ever wants to know. They'll know which are real too.

I'm having fun with it though so don't slam me to much.

I am always a gentleman.
Weavindreams
Posted: Monday, December 09, 2013 11:16:08 AM

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Nah, not slamming brother, just stating what I think and feel same as you. enjoy!

Ruthie
Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 4:14:50 PM

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What time do they hold non-worship services?
Meggsy
Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 5:53:45 PM

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I am an Athiest but would not be going there.
My body is my temple and I worship that as do my friends. I share the communion of us being together as one.
Religon to me is mind control and extortion. Nobody is going to control my mind or get anything of value from me apart from my body.
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