What happens at an atheist church? did they found their god?


By Brian Wheeler BBC News Magazine

Harry Cliff gives his science lecture at the Sunday Assembly in a former church

_65688547_assembly624attendeeAn “atheist church” in North London is proving a big hit with non-believers. Does it feel a bit like a new religion?

Not many sermons include the message that we are all going to die and there is no afterlife.

But the Sunday Assembly is no ordinary church service.

Launched last month, as a gathering for non-believers, it is, in the words of master of ceremonies Sanderson Jones, “part foot-stomping show, part atheist church, all celebration of life”.

A congregation of more than 300 crowded into the shell of a deconsecrated church to join the celebration on Sunday morning.

Instead of hymns, the non-faithful get to their feet to sing along to Stevie Wonder and Queen songs.

There is a reading from Alice in Wonderland and a power-point presentation from a particle physicist, Dr Harry Cliff, who explains the origins of antimatter theory.

It feels like a stand-up comedy show. Jones and co-founder Pippa Evans trade banter and whip the crowd up like the veterans of the stand-up circuit that they are.

But there are more serious moments.

The theme of the morning is “wonder” – a reaction, explains Jones, to criticism that atheists lack a sense of it.

So we bow our heads for two minutes of contemplation about the miracle of life and, in his closing sermon, Jones speaks about how the death of his mother influenced his own spiritual journey and determination to get the most out of every second, aware that life is all too brief and nothing comes after it.

So we bow our heads for two minutes of contemplation about the miracle of life and, in his closing sermon, Jones speaks about how the death of his mother influenced his own spiritual journey and determination to get the most out of every second, aware that life is all too brief and nothing comes after it.

The audience – overwhelmingly young, white and middle class – appear excited to be part of something new and speak of the void they felt on a Sunday morning when they decided to abandon their Christian faith. Few actively identify themselves as atheists.

“It’s a nice excuse to get together and have a bit of a community spirit but without the religion aspect,” says Jess Bonham, a photographer.

“It’s not a church, it’s a congregation of unreligious people.”

Another attendee, Gintare Karalyte, says: “I think people need that sense of connectedness because everyone is so singular right now, and to be part of something, and to feel like you are part of something. That’s what people are craving in the world.”

The number of people declaring themselves to be of “no religion” in England and Wales has increased by more than six million since 2001 to 14.1 million, according to the latest census. That makes England and Wales two of the most unreligious nations in the Western world.  Source link for more on the subject.

 



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1 reply

  1. It is interesting that such gatherings, now in several countries, are unnecessary for physical survival. We do not need community to hunt big game with spears, for instance. Since the need goes beyond the physical it enters what we call spiritual. Does that prove there is a God? Not really, but it indicates that people search for meaning beyond materialist limits. Funny, religion only provides the same. Only Jesus takes a person beyond the need into the spiritual world itself where we actually encounter the Spiritual Being.

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