Atheist Church Planting

After the incredible success of the “atheist church” (officially the “Sunday Assembly”) in London, a lot of people are wondering how they can get their own version started.

So the comedians who started it, Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, have come up with rough guidelines for how to spread the services… plus, there’s the video below:

I appreciate the list of things you shouldn’t be doing:

Signs that you are doing The Sunday Assembly wrong include, but are not restricted to:

  • Silly hats.
  • Flowing robes.
  • Child sacrifice.
  • No fun (and, or cake).
  • An empty hall.

No child sacrifice? Well, count me out.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Silly hats are fine… as long as you’re not pretending others should see the hat as a sign of you having godly power over everyone else.

  • CelticWhisper

    Yes, yes, that’s all well and good, but what about silly walks?

  • Rain

    Okay call me a “splitter” but I think there should be silly hats.

  • Ashley

    This sounds amazing, just what I’ve been looking for, a great opportunity for community and engagement and charity and cake.

    However, some of these bits seem sketchy:

    “The Sunday Assembly is run on donations and we ask you to send Sunday Assembly Everywhere 10% of your collection each month in order for us to provide ongoing support.”

    Gah. What kind of support do they provide? Cake? Literature? Tithing usually leaves an icky feeling in my mouth. And then there’s this:

    “Your Sunday Assembly will be on one of the themes previously explored by Sunday Assembly London.”

    “A Sunday Assembly will show the guest speaker’s talk and the address from the Sunday Assembly London they have chosen.”

    Haven’t there been only one or two? Why the limitations here? I guess my question is why the overriding structure of something that could be a really nice community-wide event. It looks like this is still being hashed out, but the guidelines seem pretty harsh if you want to hold your own.

  • Kengi

    Day one: First atheist church is founded.
    Day two: First rules about atheist churches are put forward.
    Day three: Second atheist church is founded.
    Day four: Atheist churches split into 17,158,859 different denominations.

  • Sarah T.

    “What kind of support do they provide” – it looks like they are licensing the name “Sunday Assembly” and providing videos of guest speaker talks and addresses, as well as marketing advice.

    There’s nothing stopping you or anyone else from doing this exact same thing and calling it something else (while arranging your own speakers/addresses). But there is some value in piggybacking on a name that’s already been heavily marketed to the target atheist communities, and the work that’s already been put in to developing interesting talks.

  • Kengi

    Yeah. One church telling another church they aren’t doing their beliefs right. Why does that sound familiar? I’ll join your silly hat church, but only if you still have cake. But NO fruit toppings on the cake!!!

  • Lord Incarosvonsillyhat

    Hey! I disagree strongly with two of those rules. Silly hats and Flowing robes. I “LIKE” silly hats and flowing robes. Especlly robes and hats with random pins stuck in them. I have a mad hatters hat with a powerbutton pin on the front, and two eye buttons on the back. Silly hat wearers unite!

  • Lord Incarosvonsillyhat

    Hey! I disagree strongly with two of those rules. Silly hats and Flowing robes. I “LIKE” silly hats and flowing robes. Especlly robes and hats with random pins stuck in them. I have a mad hatters hat with a powerbutton pin on the front, and two eye buttons on the back. Silly hat wearers unite!

  • Hayden
  • Guest

    I think Hemant is right about the child sacrifice. No respectful atheist would be complete without baby eating. Keep child sacrifice, and I’ll say OK to silly hats. Deal?

  • A3Kr0n

    All joking aside, I’ve been wondering if an atheist church type thing would be good. I don’t want the government to be my “church”. I keep thinking about that Methodist minister on the Thinking Atheist. I grew up Methodist, and I’d probably still be there if it wasn’t for all the God stuff.

  • Gus Snarp

    I cannot be part of a church that bans fruit toppings! Schism!

  • Duke OfOmnium

    Wouldn’t child sacrifice include baby-eating? What kind of atheists are they?

  • Renshia

    Hemant,it’s okay. That type of thing should happen in the privacy of your own home, closer to dinnertime. Freshness is everything.

  • DaveD

    Humanists of Greater Portland (Oregon) has been meeting every Sunday for over 10 years to listen to an invited speaker and ask LOTS of questions. But we don’t pretend to be a church, don’t do moments of silence (unless there’s a reason), don’t pretend to celebrate religious holidays (though sometimes have a “hat day” around Easter). Our readings are member selected. So maybe we should be asking other groups (including Sunday Assembly) to send 10% of their collections to us? Wouldn’t dream of it. (We actually give 10% to non-denominational homeless and self-help programs.) Check out our website ( for examples of some of our programs (e.g. videos).

  • DaveD

    In my post, “non-denominational” –> secular, non-theist.

  • wmdkitty

    Heretics, all of you!

  • Reverend Robbie

    Don’t you get it: you’re all right! You’re all talking about the same nonexistence of a God and what he/she/nondescriptspiritthingthatbindsusalltogether doesn’t want us to wear and eat. So join my atheist church that lets you believe anything you want about silly hats and cake, as long a you tithe 10%. There will be lots of sex. And 10%; don’t forget the 10% tithe. I can’t spread the non-word about non-god/spiritthing without your money for my remodeled garage and backyard gazebo.

  • Reverend Robbie

    I think they’re totally joking about the 10% and the limitations and such. It’s satire.

  • Dave Hodgkinson

    I went this month. It was great. We sang songs, had a great speaker doing great things for underprivileged kids (helping them get into university), had tea and cake. Then we went to the pub. Whatever quibbles you have with the words, talk to Sanderson. He’s on Facebook and the Sunday Assembly is on Facebook.

  • west hill united, toronto

    In Toronto? Join us at We’ve been a church for atheists for the past 10 years. But you should know, we’re not going to send 10% of our donations to Sunday Assembly just because you show up!

  • Tyro Kathar

    I strongly object to the “no silly hats” rule. What if we want to play The Great Dalmoudi? Who’s to say what constitutes a “silly” hat? I WANT TO WEAR MY SILLY HAT!