Ken Ham: Atheists Are Starting ‘Churches’ Because They Secretly Believe in God

I’ve been posting a lot about the “atheist church” that began in London and has since spread worldwide because I think it’s a neat idea for the people who enjoy that sort of thing.

If you miss singing as a group, listening to inspiring speeches, or being part of a community, the idea of a non-religious gathering has a lot of value.

Some will dismiss the idea wholesale because it’s “too much like religion,” but I don’t buy that. There are no mandatory beliefs, no Gods (or their messengers) to worship, nothing you have to take on faith. The “church” isn’t even about spreading atheism — it’s open to everyone who wants to celebrate life, listen to music, appreciate science, etc. You won’t hear anyone telling you not to believe in God if you attend one of the gatherings.

It’s just the sort of thing we need to help closeted atheists transition out of faith — it gives them something that resembles a church structure without all the bullshit that’s said and done within it.

And if it’s not for you, then don’t go. It’s that simple.

Ken Ham can’t wrap his brain around any of this, though. He read an article about the Sunday Assembly and it’s too much for him to handle:

… why would atheists do such a thing? If there’s no God, what’s the point? If when you die that’s the end of you and you won’t ever know you even existed, then why bother with starting a church? Why would atheists like these be so active in such a meaningless project?

Well, the Bible gives us the answer

Of course it does.

After quoting some verses that have nothing to do with anything, he gets to his reasons:

… there are no true atheists — they know there is a God and that’s why they want a system that copies the Christian worship.

Because they know there is a God, they have to work hard to try to actively suppress they truth. It’s like they hold their hands on their ears and yell: “No, I refuse to listen to what God is telling me.” And so they actively preach their atheism to try to block the truth they [willingly] reject. So sad.

Here’s the most obvious thing I’ve ever written: Ken Ham is wrong.

The Sunday Assembly follows a Christian worship model because, well, it works. Evangelical churches do an amazing job of getting Christians excited about their faith and eager to come to worship. But we can do many of the things they do right without falling into the Jesus trap.

And, again, the Assembly isn’t about preaching atheism. It’s just a way to gather, sing, and celebrate without referring to God or the Bible. Outside of a high school glee club (which you’re too old for) or rock concerts (which are expensive and don’t happen every few weeks), there just aren’t any places you can do those things outside of a church.

So Ken Ham is ignorant. What else is new.

If you’re interesting in checking out a local Assembly, founders Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones will be visiting several American cities in November. Check out their schedule and consider coming to at least one of the gatherings so you can see for yourself what this is all about instead of taking Ken Ham’s word for it.

Which is good advice for just about anything, really.

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.

  • YankeeCynic

    Ken Ham says a stupid thing. Film at 11.

  • WallofSleep

    “… there are no true atheists — they know there is a God and that’s why they want a system that copies the Christian worship.”

    Yeah. And I still put teeth under my pillow at night. Not mine, of course. And I also still put out milk and cookies near the fireplace every xmas. Also not mine. What other systems of fantasy shall I copy while desperately trying to convince myself I don’t believe in them, Ken?

  • WallofSleep

    Oh, and…

    “… there are no true atheists”

    Stop right there, asshole. That’s our thing.

  • Keyra

    “Celebrate life, enjoy music, etc.”, we all do that (depending on the type of church and community). Atheism isn’t a religion, eh?

  • Harry Underwood

    So a group of non-religious individuals *can’t* do a cultural activity without it being classified as a religious gathering? I don’t get it.

  • Matthew Baker

    Ken Ham finds secret to wealth: the long con.

  • Ralph Horque

    Ken Ham is simply deluded.

  • decathelite

    Atheism is not a religon. The world is not black and white. It is made up of people who believe many different things, some of which overlap.

  • BloodyConfusion

    If nothing else, I have decided what to have for dinner. Why does such a dopey man have to be named after something delicious.

  • Jarosław Michalak

    I’m sorry, but I do not get it. I sincerely do not. Atheist church is like tae bo – you practice martial art, but without the martial element. And no art.
    Christians going through the motions of the rites without real meaning are a poor sight… but doing that _for a purpose_? Want to get community vibe, go to a rock concert or join the knitting club! Don’t mimick the empty rites, for Sagan’s sake… We’re supposed to be free thinkers, remember? Aping the believers is _not_ the way to go.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    And we gave him a good reason to say said stupid things.

    Thanks for the down vote whoever it was but I said weeks ago calling it atheist church would only fuel the fundies and now people are bitching because it has happened.

  • GCBill

    They absolutely can, but Keyra has a habit of trolling, so (s)he doesn’t care.

  • GCBill

    I have to admit, the “no true atheists” argument is my personal pet peeve. I can handle being called evil, stupid, or deluded, but not intellectually dishonest.

    Also, for all the criticism atheists level at believers, we don’t deny that many of them are sincere. This is one (stupid) type of claim I only ever see from theists.

  • Stan

    I’m all for a regular meeting place, community, and social interaction, but why call it a “church?” It is patently NOT a church, in the same way that atheism is not a religion. I don’t give a damn what that fool Ken Ham thinks, but the idea of labeling an atheist organization is such a way strikes me as silly.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    All Keyra does is troll.

  • Stan

    That should read, ” . . . the idea of labeling an atheist organization IN such a way . . .” Whoops.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    A lot of us don’t like the name at all but the typical response from other atheist is don’t like it, don’t go.

  • Birdie1986

    “Church” is specifically defined as a CHRISTIAN house of worship. Why open ourselves up to the Christians to ass-u-me that atheists are adopting all of their institution. Why not just call it a gathering? Words matter.

  • Stan

    For what it’s worth, CGBill, I’ve heard other athiests suggest that certain religionists know full well that their beliefs are false, yet are intentionally obtuse in failing to recognize the fact of the matter.

  • Stan

    Damn! I misspelled “atheists!” What a day I’m having!

  • A3Kr0n

    Reading posts about Ken, and other merry minstrels like him reminds me of learning multiplication tables when I was young. It was something you didn’t want to do, but you had to.

  • good_creon

    Not coming to Cleveland, I see. No one ever comes to Cleveland

  • MartinRC

    I disagree on one point of your article, where you state “The Sunday Assembly follows a Christian worship model because, well, it works. ”
    The Atheist Church isn’t following a Christian worship model, the Christian worship model follows a standard social model of gathering and thats why it works. Music concerts aren’t popular because people are trying to find some god, they are popular because it unites people with a similar taste. Social gatherings aren’t popular and work because they are trying to worship some god, they are just how people get together in large groups. Birthday parties aren’t about gods, they are about families and friends celebrating. And tribal drum circles that predate Christian churches aren’t trying to copy the Christian model either. Its the Christian churches (as is all religious gatherings) copy the basic structure of human social gathering because… well they are a a social gathering of humans of course.

  • Malcolm Reynolds

    “… why would atheists do such a thing? If there’s no God, what’s the
    point? If when you die that’s the end of you and you won’t ever know you
    even existed, then why bother with starting a church? Why would atheists like these be so active in such a meaningless project?”

    It’s called “community”. Gathering together with like minded people, and you know, socializing. I agree using the term “church” is a poor choice, and the reaction from the religious should have been expected. But I do like the idea of atheists having a place to gather. I believe efforts like this are necessary to help spread the atheist message, if you will, and build our numbers. The time is long overdue for atheists to come out of the closet and be heard.

  • ShoeUnited

    I’ve always been more in favor of the regular church. Friday night at the bar or at someone’s house. Anything else is blasphemy.

  • GCBill

    I too have heard atheists say that about individuals, but never about *all* religious people. Ken Ham won’t even give me (or others) the benefit of the doubt.

  • Mick

    I think an atheist church is the dopiest idea I’ve heard this year.

    I predict that all of them will have closed down within a couple of years from now.

  • Joel Justiss

    I really miss singing as a group and being part of a community, but I really don’t miss listening to uninspiring speeches.

  • TnkAgn

    Atheists and agnostics:
    Live your lives, and instead of a “church,” rally to your family, your friends, your books and your brains. Visit the natural world as often as you can, and love your dog…even your cat. Commune with friends regularly.
    There are corollaries and codicils and addenda to this entreaty, of course. Make up your own. But “churches?” No thanks.

  • TnkAgn

    Still love Jim Brown.

  • James_Jarvis

    Atheism: the greatest cover ever devised for organized religion. Ken Ham exposes the great contradiction, atheists must believe there is a God because they claim there is no God.

  • TnkAgn

    Mmm. Poe’s Law, or troll is obvious troll? Well, James?

  • Kengi

    Ken Ham has finally figured out why Christian celebrations all follow and imitate pagan celebrations. Christians secretly believe in the pagan gods and so they actively preach their Christianity to try to block the truth they [willingly] reject. So sad.

  • JohnnieCanuck

    Unless he is lying and does it only for the money and recognition.

  • JA

    I’ve been saying this ever since the idea of ‘atheist churches’ started becoming a reality.

  • JA

    This is why I wish they’d pick a different name for these organizations; ‘church’ is not a good term, because idiots like Ham will make dialogue even harder.

  • JA

    I like the term “forum”, personally.

  • Michaela Samuels

    Once again, he proves his total misunderstanding of atheism. Why would a meaningless existence want to take part in any good? Maybe because it’s not meaningless, asshole.

  • Michaela Samuels

    “Church” definitely leaves a dirty taste in my mouth. I prefer a less stigmatized word, too.

  • EdmondWA

    Sure, Ken, and Buddhists know there’s a God, that’s why they have temples. And Muslims know it’s really Jehovah up there, that’s why they copy Christians with mosques. And so on. You can ALWAYS presume what large masses of people believe, by how similar anything in their life is to a Christian’s life. Atheist rappers? Just copying Adeste Fideles. Andy Warhol? Keith Haring? Robert Mapplethorpe? All secretly giving glory to God, by trying to copy the Sistine Chapel! Genius there, Ken.

  • Christian Kemp

    Yeh this is the problem. Now they can latch onto the idea of church. Not realizing that it has nothing to do with religion. They (Ken Ham and friends) are idiots, they do not even understand the term atheist and now we have “churches”.

  • sailor50

    Potlucks, anyone?

  • Artor

    You’re being sarcastic, right?

  • Artor

    And therein lies the problem. Don’t they want these to be inclusive and welcoming to atheists of all stripes? Picking a format that gives a lot of atheists the heebie-jeebies seems counter-productive. I’d love to go to a regular gathering of intelligent, free-minded people. But go to church? No thank you.

  • Guest

    Don’t call it a “church.” Call it something else…

    I prefer “bar.”

  • EdmondWA

    So is a mosh pit a religion? And do you really think that religion has cornered the market on celebrating life? What exactly IS your definition of a religion?
    And how hilarious that you use “etc” to stand in for the ONE other thing that Hemant wrote, “appreciate science”. Do you do a lot of that at your church? Yay stem cells? Way to go, evolution? May blessings be upon the new DSM-5? “Etc” is supposed to stand in for a LIST, not to just conveniently eradicate ONE inconvenient term.
    Isn’t there supposed to be a GOD in there eventually, to be a religion? Freedom to WORSHIP, and all that? These people are just exercising their freedom to assemble. And why not show some courage of your convictions by coming BACK to reply to your detractors?

  • John Small Berries

    It’s just a way to gather, sing, and celebrate without referring to God
    or the Bible. Outside of a high school glee club (which you’re too old
    for) or rock concerts (which are expensive and don’t happen every few
    weeks), there just aren’t any places you can do those things outside of a

    Yep. Except for community choruses, local opera companies, barbershop/Sweet Adeline groups, karaoke bars, open mic nights at coffeehouses, or starting your own band, there just aren’t any places a secular adult can go have a good time singing with other people outside of a church.

    I loathe saying it, but I actually agree (to a point) with Ken Ham. With all the phenomenally creative people who are atheists, the best that could be done is simply aping the forms and terminology of religion? (Well, given some of our atrocious billboard designs, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.)

  • James_Jarvis

    Yes, I was mocking Ken Ham’s so called logic. Unfortunately, it does sound like something he would say.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Yeah…didn’t see this coming at all.

  • Highlander

    Atheist Lecture, Discussion and Sing Along doesn’t fall trippingly off the tongue quite as well as Atheist Church, I’ll admit, but couldn’t we come up with our own word that does? Why do we need to borrow a word that has so many religious connotations? I can see the desire for a regular gathering to socialize, listen to lectures, sing songs and form a community. It wouldn’t be something I’d enjoy, introvert that I am, but I could see it for some people. Do we need to call it church though? You could argue, “What’s in a name…,” but language is how we have collectively agreed to standardize the meanings of words and for the most part we all agree that church has been standardized to mean a building or organization centered around religion. When someone says church, we think religion automatically. So Atheist Church just seems like a contradiction. I have no good ideas for what to call such a gathering, however, I’m sure there must be a better word than church

  • Highlander

    I like to be heard, I just don’t like a herd.

  • Malcolm Reynolds

    The great thing about being an atheist? If you choose not to attend a “church” gathering, no atheist will think any different of you. But this could be a good way to get fence sitting religious types to finally jump off the fence and land on the side of reality. Seeing that there are MANY atheists, and that’s there’s nothing to fear by proclaiming that you no longer believe in “god”.

  • indorri

    Didn’t downvote, but I don’t think that’s an argument.

    a) Ken Ham is seriously deluded. That we do something that superficially looks like a church and get him to bray isn’t hard.

    b) Fundies have always bought the “no true atheist” line. That we make them have a conniption fit because we appropriated the few good cultural elements of standard Christianity takes no skin of my back, personally.

  • Anna

    You won’t hear anyone telling you not to believe in God if you attend one of the gatherings.

    Seriously? If it’s not even overtly atheistic, what’s the point of going to one of these? If atheism isn’t being affirmed during the service, then it’s just a secular gathering like any other secular gathering.

    The Sunday Assembly follows a Christian worship model because, well, it works. Evangelical churches do an amazing job of getting Christians excited about their faith and eager to come to worship. But we can do many of the things they do right without falling into the Jesus trap.

    From my perspective, that’s not a good thing at all. It perpetuates “church culture.” It makes the act of going to church normal and expected, whereas I would prefer to see it fade away like it has in more secular countries.

  • Brian

    Christian Churches should be worried. People already are having more difficulty in justifying the necessity of religion, and if Atheist Church idea catches on, where people can receive all of the social benefits of attending a church without all of the insane dogma that comes with it, it will only hasten the demise of religions.

  • Robster

    ‘Spose getting together with similarly deluded believers, confirming each others beliefs and singing nonsense to something that doesn’t exist could be called a positive thing, it isn’t. Like minded free thinkers celebrating life together, that is a good thing. No jesus needed.

  • AxeGrrl

    Its the Christian churches (as is all religious gatherings) copy the basic structure of human social gathering because… well they are a a social gathering of humans of course.

    You nailed it!

    Organized religion co-opted something that’s human.

  • TurelieTelcontar

    I have a hypothesis to that, actually. Because in every discussion about hell with a believer I’ve read/had, there comes a time when the believer insists that the sign for their god is totally obvious, if you just look hard enough. I think it’s because that’s the only way they can believe in a loving god who sends people to hell – the people knew, and rejected that knowledge. But that whole belief in a loving god hinges on the fact that the signs for god are being obvious to anyone.

    So, they can’t consider other people honestly not seeing the signs – because it means that god is sending people to hell for guessing wrong between more than 50000 alternatives.

  • Stan

    You should have thought of that before you elected Jerry Springer mayor.

  • Agrajag

    Thing is, though, I’m not willing to let what I do and what I don’t do and what I label things, be governed by whether or not it’ll cause fundies to say silly things. As far as I’m concerned *gravity* will cause fundies to say silly things. Who cares ?

  • Heidi McClure

    You only get Jesus points for the first troll post, I think.

  • YankeeCynic

    That would be my home town (well one of them anyway) Cincinnati.

  • disqus_K29vzian2O

    It’s the “Sunday Assembly”. Church is lazy writing.

  • RobertoTheChi

    I was wondering when you would pop in to spew your nonsense. Why does it not surprise me that you’re as clueless about atheism as Ham is?

  • wabney

    Nope, it isn’t, you troll. But I’m fairly certain you’ve been explained this over and over again, along with ignoring any attempts to ask that you provide any evidence for your beliefs, and you obviously can’t see beyond the blinders your fairy tale has placed on you.

  • DavidMHart

    Yup. My standard response is to tell them that deep down they know that Huitzilopochtli is real, but they pretend not to believe in him because they’re too squeamish to carry out the necessary human sacrifices.

  • Andrew Wilson

    It’s not church-going that’s the problem. It’s the dogma that goes with religious churches that’s the problem.

  • Andrew Wilson

    It started in London about 2 years ago, has now spread across Britain and is now going global.

    The community aspect is what people like. Occasionally sharing time with people of a like mind is a good thing.

  • jeffj900

    The “church” isn’t even about spreading atheism — it’s open to everyone who wants to celebrate life, listen to music, appreciate science, etc.

    There are a whole lot of ways to celebrate life, and to enjoy music or appreciate science.

    All but one of them do not involve sitting through an atheist simulation of the mechanism of social control and manipulation that has for centuries been responsible for spreading the most pernicious mental parasite throughout human civilization.

    I can’t see one reason to waste my time at an atheist church.

  • James_Jarvis

    Alas, I am hoist by my own petard. It was a meant to be so extreme that it would never be taken seriously, but with Ken Ham it could be totally possible that he said something like that. Cue, crickets.

  • jeffj900

    I’m all against a regular meeting place, community, and social interaction for all atheists. I think the whole notion is confused, and really just an opportunity for ambitious people to take advantage of others, as the church has always taken advantage of people’s credulousness. Atheists are just people in their native state. Why must that be a basis for a social club?

    Is there a club for people who have a heartbeat? A club for people that are breathing? A club for people who don’t believe Elvis is alive and well and living on Pluto?

    The whole idea of atheist church is absurd, as if all atheists are suppose to share the same values and interests, and agree on things, and even like each other? Simply because they don’t believe in God? Nonsense.

    Why is it that atheism should be a basis for forming a group, especially if it is not specifically about spreading atheism, which seems to me about the only common interest every atheist could share, other than perhaps sex and eating?

    Why not join a glee club, or a chess club, or a cycling club, or a book club? How about a science club, a charity, a political cause? There are so many concrete and practical bases for humans to unite and work toward common goals on, and atheism just seems like the least likely and interesting one a person could possibly choose. Atheism is a very simple fact about being a human being, like not believing the moon is made of cream cheese, and putting your pants on one leg at a time. It isn’t a church, a religion, or a community.

  • Harry Underwood

    I’m pretty sure that Christians did not develop the idea of a congregational assembly.

  • abb3w

    It’s just a way to gather, sing, and celebrate without referring to God or the Bible. Outside of a high school glee club (which you’re too old for) or rock concerts (which are expensive and don’t happen every few weeks), there just aren’t any places you can do those things outside of a church.


  • Steve Bowen

    To be fair Sanderson and Pippa do not call it a church, It’s an ‘assembly’ and it’s on a Sunday which is as far as it goes. I’ve been to one of these BTW they’re great fun.

  • abb3w

    It seems closer to the Quaker “Meeting House” concept. However, that’s not as widely recognized.

  • JWH

    In my area, I know that at least a couple secular groups sponsor a Sunday-morning lecture series. If I were to do something with my Sunday morning, I’d likely favor that over the “atheist church.”

  • The Other Weirdo

    So did the plague, once.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Christians do it to each other all the time. “Oh, he wasn’t a true Christian if he said that.” So I suppose applying that to a different group doesn’t take much of a stretch.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Wait. Are you saying that to celebrate life and enjoy music you need a religion?

  • The Other Weirdo

    Tell that to Jesus.

  • Tony Debono

    Well, then Ken Ham has absolutely NOTHING to worry about, does he? God is good! ;)

  • Mr. Two

    I’m going to have to agree that I don’t care for using the term “church”. Although it literally means “assembly,” in today’s culture it means “Christian assembly”.

    It seems to me that the Sunday Christian assembly copied the synagogue meetings, which were partially religious in nature and partially community meetings.

    Regarding “meeting house”, I’ve known of Church of Christ preachers who referred to the “church building” as a meeting house. But that term does not imply Christianity the way “church” does, so I’m all for it.

    Humanist groups have been having what they call “monthly gatherings” for a long time. Although I haven’t been to one, what they have on their calendar in Houston looks pretty appealing, much more-so than this Atheist Church concept.

  • Mr. Two

    Seems sort-of like a Humanist Gathering without the commitment.

  • 7Footpiper

    Which is why the official banner this initiative is going under is “Sunday Assembly”. If this gets turned into church then we only have ourselves to blame but I’d bet my bottom dollar that if you get Ken Ham to attend for a month he’ll come away all flustered because this is not a church in his eyes.

  • Monika Jankun-Kelly

    This! Almost every time Sunday Assembly or similar get posted about here, the headline is “atheist church”. Hemant, why use their terms, when their terms don’t even fit?

    I’m not transitioning out of religion, I’m 2nd generation secular. I don’t miss church, never went. I don’t want a church. I want discussion of philosophy, don’t want dogma, don’t want the supernatural, don’t want a wizard in a funny hat who thinks he’s an authority figure. Do want to go myself, don’t demand anyone else go, nor look down on them if it’s not their cup of tea. That is all not churchlike. I want to be with like minded people and have a community gathering place, which is part of what churches are for, but that is not unique to church. Please, PLEASE, for the love of kittens, stop calling it a church already.

  • Urbane_Gorilla

    Maybe atheists would like to get some of that tax free sheltering like the phony Scientologists?

  • Baffled By Faith

    I find it pretty funny that Ken basically makes the case that the only reason to have a Church is to try and “work actively to suppress the truth”. I can’t think of many organizations that have worked as hard to spread their message and convince others of their beliefs than Christianity! LOL! I guess, like most things, this says more about the person making the statement than it does about the target of his accusations.

  • Baffled By Faith

    I think one of the biggest problems with western culture is the isolationist tendancies brought about by the constant fears being spread on mainstream media. We have been taught from a young age that you shouldn’t talk to strangers and that it’s better to be distrustful until you have a proven reason to trust someone (at least on the individual level). An “atheist church” would provide a good opportunity to get to know your community and bring together like minded people, which is a great way to make friends. To me, this is the only thing I miss about being a church-goer. It’s basically a community center, but with a much larger and more regular user base.

  • phantomreader42

    So this means when Ken Ham constructed a “museum” it’s because he knows religion is full of shit and he’s trying in vain to steal some credibility from science. I suspected that all along, but it’s nice of him to finally admit it.

  • Anna

    See, I actually think the church-going is part of the problem. In many parts of the country, the expectation that people attend church is overwhelming. Going to church is seen as a good thing: good for them, good for society, etc.

    That type of atmosphere results in religious institutions being put on a pedestal: automatically worthy of special respect, automatically considered a vital part of the community, automatically seen as something that improves people’s lives and makes them better citizens.

    This type of culture (which is so prevalent in the Bible Belt) is one that I would like to see disappear from American society, and I think the “atheist church” is not something that will help further that goal.

  • Anna

    I love community centers. Heck, I spent much of my childhood at our local community center. I just think the solution to “church culture” is to strengthen other aspects of secular culture, such as community centers, rather than mimic the religious model.

  • Baffled By Faith

    I see what you’re saying, but for many people the community aspect of church is what keeps them coming, so if you can provide them with a non-religious alternative, it may help people who really don’t believe, but don’t want to lose that community. Calling it a church is perhaps a bad idea, but I think the world could use more non-religious and free social gathering places. It will also help organize non-religious communities which might help increase representation of athiest worldviews in media and, eventually, in politics. It would also allow curious religious people to have a place where they can actually meet these fabled athiests that they are always told are so evil.

  • Baffled By Faith

    How about “Halls of reason”?

  • LonesomeDove

    Seriously though…what kind of songs would you sing in a setting like this that doesn’t mention, elude, or refer to some kind of deity?

  • Sam Black

    Um… Are you suggesting that all of the songs that don’t refer to a deity are inappropriate for singing at a gathering of atheists?

    I like the Grateful Dead. I think Friend of the Devil would be very appropriate.

  • Dave

    Christians adopted pagan festivals so the locals wouldn’t suffer too much inconvenience becoming Christians, Atheists adopt Christian festivals so locals won’t suffer too much inconvienience becoming Atheist. Lol. The wave is gathering momentum Ken and you know where this ends…

  • Red_Ruffensor

    Hambone always surprises; many times I’ve thought he’s reached the highest possible level of stupidity, but then he comes up with something even dumber.

  • Matt D

    Hm, I’m starting to think that D&D was correct, that fire or acid is the only way to keep a troll down.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    And yet it keeps getting referred to as church.

  • guest

    I’d disagree that there aren’t places to sing outside of church. I was recently part of a chorus group that sang close-part harmonies. There’s lots of these singing groups around, check your local paper if you’re intereted. I did enjoy the experience of singing together with lots of other people, but I quit because practice was taking up too much of my time.

    There’s also Karaoke down the pub.

    Not saying the Sunday Assembly is a bad idea, just there’s other places to go if you like to sing with people. Still think an atheist’s accapella group or a complaints choir would be cool.

    Ken Ham is so predictable. The tired old stereotype of the atheist who secretly believes in god? Ridiculous nonsense. It’s just pandering to the people who follow him. We all know in our hearts that he’s wrong but he’s not concerned with reaching us. All he cares about is soundbites for the people who buy his books.

  • guest

    Tide goes in, tide goes out. YOU CAN’T EXPLAIN THAT!

  • guest

    The thing is, it’s mostly America atheists getting the heebie-jeebies. This is a British thing. The cultural context is totally different. We’ve got the toothless old Church of England here, not your whacked-out fundies. Religion has nowhere near the same level of prominance in public discourse. So, it’s unlikely that Brits will react in the same way.

  • guest

    and yet here you are, reading an atheist blog, on the Atheist Patheos section.

  • guest

    I should have read your comment before posting mine. I’m not really sure how any atheist gathering can avoid being labelled as an atheist church. “They meet at regular times…just like church” “They talk about morality…just like church” “They’re doing charity work…just like a church” “They’re singing songs together…just like church”

  • guest

    Church-going already is a minority passtime in Britain. Attendance figures are way down. The idea of atheism being ‘affirmed’ makes me wince. I think ‘take no-one’s word for it’ or ‘think for yourself’ would be better things to affirm.

  • guest

    Rock concerts cost money. Not everyone has money. The main thing I envy about church is having a place to go to meet people which I don’t have to pay for.

  • guest

    How about ‘assembly’? ‘atheist assembly’ sounds pretty good. ¬_¬

  • guest

    I’m too sexy by Right Said Fred.

  • guest

    Why bother eating a piece of chocolate cake? You’re only going to shit it out eventually.

  • guest

    Since when did celebrating life and enjoying music make you part of a religion? Is Glastonbury a religion?

  • Njen

    So by Ham’s logic, Christians that don’t go to church secretly do not believe in their god.

  • Anna

    If it’s an atheist gathering, why wouldn’t atheism be affirmed? Or supported, or whatever word you want to use? Their previous comment was something like “We don’t do supernatural, but we won’t tell you you’re wrong if you do.”

    If they’re not even willing to say there’s no such thing as the supernatural, what exactly makes this an atheist event? I might as well go to the UU church if I wanted to be around liberal people who believe in supernatural things.

    America’s not Britain. Churchgoing is seen as normal and respectable here. I think we should work on getting our country secular. And once we do get it secular, something like an “atheist church” will become even less necessary or attractive.

  • jeffj900

    Of course I can choose to read an atheist blog. I read several of them. I also read blogs about politics, foreign policy, science, humor, economics, health care, and some other miscellaneous ones.

    And which of these blogs organizes a weekly gathering in order to make their ideas and interests the foundation of a community, watched over by charismatic leaders trying to build careers on the backs of the credulous flock?

    That’s right, none of them, and thank goodness for that.

  • TCC

    And what about people whose families do not support their non-theism, who do not have secular friends, whose intellectual endeavors do not fulfill their social needs? Who are you to tell other people what they want or need?

  • TnkAgn

    That’s what support groups, counselors, beer-league softball teams and tai chi exercises in the park are for. It was only a suggestion. But…must I repeat myself?

  • TCC

    What if all I need support for is being a nontheist? Why do I need a support group or a counselor? What if I don’t like softball or tai chi? What people don’t seem to get is that these assemblies wouldn’t exist if there weren’t a need or desire for them. Why is it a bad thing for people to use these assemblies for the purpose of fulfilling perfectly normal and healthy human needs?

  • TCC

    Frankly, Hemant hasn’t helped that, I’m sorry to say.

  • TCC

    What seems to have flown softly over your head is that in a perfect world, your point would stand, but we live in a world where religions dominate, and so identifying as an atheist can be a perfectly fine organizing criterion.

    I also note that there really isn’t any reason for cynicism about the founders’ supposed desire to get rich off these assemblies.

  • TnkAgn

    Okay. I’ll bite. To what fucking “assemblies”do you refer, and why should it matter? Great apes such as humans generally prefer to consort with other human apes.

    Stop with this abstract cat and mouse and tell us what you want to say. And please don’t pick fights with people who are not against you. I’ve said mine, TCC. Night.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Nope, he has not.

  • jeffj900

    Seeming is not nearly the same as being.

    I have quite a lot of experience with the imperfections of the world, which is exactly the reason for cynicism about the opportunities such a mass following will create.

    As far as identifying as an atheist, sure, conferences and stuff make sense because they are focused on educating. They are occasional events that people make use of as they see fit. This is a minor aspect of identity. But the way church functions is far different, far more intense in the way it occupies a major core of one’s being. Just the act of committing to weekly attendance, devoting a substantial portion of one’s waking weekend hours and sacrificing some of your freedom from work, is a significant act of binding one’s self to a community. A mutual dependence develops over time: the community needs your attendance in order to perpetuate itself, and you need that community for emotional support. Once this occurs it begins to take on the characteristics of an obligation.

    I have plenty of obligations in my life, and if I’m going to take on a new one I want it to have an effective focus, such as educating children, raising money for the needy, or reforming politics. I don’t want it to be an emotional support group with a bunch if people who feel lonely because they are atheists in a predominantly religious world.

    Is atheism really sufficient to bind such a church-like community together in mutual interdependence? Once everyone agrees they don’t believe in God, and explains their reasons, and their story at how they reached their conclusions, what next? One of the primary roles of church is to continually reinforce the indoctrinated beliefs. Why? Because they are unnatural and unstable, and people left to their own devices are tempted to abandon them. I don’t see that as a problem for atheists. How many atheists must struggle with the temptation to believe in God every day or every week? And do atheists need to engage the same mechanisms of coercion and control that religion always has to fight this inevitable erosion of faith?

    The religious non-belief involved in atheism, being natural, minimal, and stable does not require this constant maintenance. So what next? The community requires common points of contact on other non-religious dimensions of being human, the social, psychological, emotional, moral, political, and economic. But atheists are as likely to have as many differences and conflicts in these areas as any group of humans. Humans definitely find satisfaction in belonging socially and feeling important and needed socially. It fulfills something elemental in the human psyche to have a role, and to be in some way indispensable and wanted. I get such fulfillments from family, friends, work, and have felt some of that in occasional involvement in political organizing.

    I see atheism as the erasure of religion, not a replacement of religion, and thus not the basis of a satisfying community. A community needs more, something present, not something absent. A community needs a basis for emotional and moral harmony. There may be some sub-groups of atheists who find commonality on these other dimensions, but not all atheists can share that. So atheism, in and of itself, is not a sufficient basis to sustain church-like communities.

  • jeffj900

    The leaders need to get the flock excited in order to extract cash. And yes, religion works so well at shaking the tree so the fruit falls out. It’s inevitable that some ambitious folks would try to replicate the same model with atheists.

  • Zainul Abu

    Ken Ham doesn’t know his stuff, with his made up inaccurate science site.

  • TCC

    “These assemblies” = the Sunday Assemblies. You know, the fucking topic of the post.

    I also get the impression that you think I’m arguing that atheists should go to these assemblies, which I’m not. If you get the same needs met doing something else, fine, do that thing. If you like this idea and think it would be worth your time, you should be able to go without receiving condemnation for it.

  • TCC

    First, no one is saying that you have a moral imperative to go to one of these assemblies. If you think it’s an obligation that you don’t want and that you get fulfillment in other ways, then don’t go. I’m not sure why this even needs to be said.

    Second, I would seriously dispute that all atheist conferences are solely about education. One of the major reasons I went to Skepticon last year – or at minimum probably the biggest takeaway from it – was the sense of belonging that came from being surrounded by likeminded people, talking to them, commiserating with them. I don’t know how much I had in common with the people I talked to, but what we had in common was more than enough. That sense of belonging is a major part of why people stick with churches even when their personal beliefs deviate, often dramatically, from those espoused by their church.

    Finally, atheism itself might not be enough, true, but you are going to get clusters of people who hold to some general principles, and that will be sufficient. This is no longer a theoretical proposal, after all; people are actually coming to these, so clearly, some common element is drawing them in.

  • TnkAgn

    Funny, I figured you weren’t addressing the topic.

    I find the notion of atheist churches (assemblies) to be silly and superfluous. I see one’s understanding of the world and the universe as an individual sport. No atheist churches for me no matter what they call them. Which is why I made the post you took issue with. Still not sure why.

    I see that no one gets that last word in with you, so I’ll just leave it for another time on a new thread. Talk later.

  • TCC

    I’m not biting on your passive-aggressive end note; I’m still going to respond.

    The reason I took issue with your unsolicited advice to others is that you are saying (in essence) that they don’t need these assemblies and could just do other things. And my answer to that is that you don’t know what other people want or need. Nor am I presuming what is good for you, which is why I wouldn’t dream of telling you that you should go to one of these. Get smarmy all you want, but don’t even think about trying to take the moral high ground.

  • TnkAgn

    Everyone here gives unsolicited advice. Take it, don’t take it. But who are you to police it? And you seem to figure you own the “moral high ground,” if there is such a thing. Perhaps you are contrarian by nature.

    But I maintain that there are numerous other venues to get what you need as a “None,” agnostic or atheist, aside from a “church” or “assembly.” Should I have started with something like, “Here’s my advice, take it or no?” Okay, you got me there. Happy? And there you have it.

  • TnkAgn

    Yes. I’ve been trying to explain that to “TCC” and have gotten nothing but vitriol for it. This world is so full of things to do and explore, people to relate to, that a “church” seems to me to be antithetical to the idea of non-religion.

  • TCC

    So, you focused on my characterization of your comment as unsolicited advice, ignoring the point of my objection (it’s in bold if you want to look again); deflected criticism by projecting it back (the “moral high ground” point); and called me a “contrarian” for absolutely no good reason. A winning response if ever I’ve seen one, especially given that you have in essence ignored everything I’ve said, insisting on arguing, “Well, I don’t think anyone needs this.” Bravo.

  • TnkAgn

    Okay. Now you’ve gone out of your way to antagonize.

    I don’t know what others need or want. Nor do you. So STFU, you total sick bastard asshole. That will be all from me, but I will be letting Hemant know what an obsessive stalking weirdo you are.

  • TCC

    You apparently don’t know what “obsessive” or “stalking” mean, since I’m responding to the posts you’re making to me. I’m not following you to other posts and responding to them, am I? Go ahead and tell Hemant; I’m sure he’ll be very, very concerned. *eyeroll*

  • TnkAgn

    You apparently have a reasonably high intellect, but are emotionally hobbled by an extremely low level of maturity. Grow up and rejoin us at a later date.

  • jeffj900

    I did not say I feel a moral imperitive to go, or that anyone was trying to compel me. You seem to have misunderstood the point.

    I said that such groups foster a sense of moral obligation between the individuals, between individuals and the leaders, and between individuals and the abstract group itself.

    This can be a good thing, but it’s also the kind of social phenomenon that can lead to cults and Jonestown type disasters. I think that by trying to replicate church communities atheists are sacrificing their integrity and being soft-headed.

    And I can’t see any benefits that are in any way dependent on making such a meeting on Sunday, or trying to create such a generalized community independent of more specific interests, but merely based on not being religious believers. It seems to me that any church-like community has a number of pernicious side-effects associated with it, yet there are no discernible benefits that would be lost if the “community” were splintered into smaller, more flexible, like-minded interest groups sharing more specific interests and concerns.

    The whole phenomenon seems to me to be a useless re-enactment of religion, and for what purpose I must ask?

  • George Mathias

    One way to protect religion and the Christians Is by entering by entering the main stream of the Atheist community modifying what they do and make them look like fools.

    The people who are doing this should have a backing of some religious group.

  • George Mathias

    The grape wine.
    All religious groups are coming together to stop the Atheist comunity in a democratic way.

    The joke:

    I know all the ways they can do that.

  • Ralph Horque

    That might be the case.