Atheist church

An Atheist church has opened in London:

Yesterday [January 6] saw the first ‘service’ of The Sunday Assembly, London’s first atheist church.

Priding itself on its tagline ‘live better, help often, wonder more,’ The Sunday Assembly is the brainchild of Sanderson Jones and musical comedian Pippa Evans, and aims to take the best things about religion and religious ceremonies, but to do it without all the god-talk. Or, as Sanderson himself has put it, it’s “a godless congregation that will meet on the first Sunday of every month to hear great talks, sing songs and generally celebrate the wonder of life.”

The first ‘service’ was held yesterday morning at the deconsecrated church The Nave in north London, and featured a talk by children’s author Andy Stanton and was shaped around the theme ‘Beginnings’.

via Comedian Sanderson Jones opens ‘London’s first atheist church’ – TNT Magazine.

Do atheists believe in “the wonder of life” like religious people do?  I thought atheists are scientific, materialist reductionists who think everything has a rational explanation.  Anyway, it’s touching, though somewhat inexplicable, that some people like church as long as God is left out of it.

Here is their liturgy from the Sunday Assembly’s website:

  • Welcome / notices
  • Song
  • Guest speaker
  • Song
  • Reading
  • Final Address
  • Song

These are very low church atheists.  I wonder what they sing.  “Imagine,” probably.  “Is that All There Is.”  What else would work as atheist hymns?

HT:  Tristyn Bloom

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    I dunno.. as much as churches tend towards squabbling and infighting (witness the various religious persecutions throughout history), it seems certain that an atheist “church” – dedicated to the idea of no fixed, external moral standard – could elevate such conflict to heretofore unseen levels.

  • Darrin

    Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. Eric Idle sang it at the London Olympics.

  • James Sarver

    A “church” based on worship of ones self is destined to break up into denominations consisting of one person.

    A laughable idea conceived by comedians. They will quickly get tired of funding it.

  • Paul Reed

    “Anyway, it’s touching, though somewhat inexplicable, that some people like church as long as God is left out of it.”

    Atheists will feel more comfortable in the average church than the average true Christian. The religion of most churches has become a moral, therapeutic, deism where God never judges anyone too harshly. Anything that contradicts the secular science of the day is ignored or treated with heavy symbolism (creation, the flood, miracles), if it’s mentioned at all.

    And I just want to know if somebody is an atheist, why don’t they just do whatever they please? Like divorce their wife and just fornicate with everything around? There’s no heaven. No hell. No final judge.

  • MichaelZ

    Songs from the Atheists Hymnal

    Hey Jude.
    -respond to bad things positively
    Don’t Stop Believing (in love).
    -see title
    All You Need is Love
    -again, see title
    Firework
    -You are awesome

  • KJB

    Steve Martin already covered this, hasn’t he?

  • Random Lutheran

    Call Me Maybe? Wait — that’s down the street at the Agnostic Chapel.

  • Darrin

    “My Way”

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com John

    “They say they want the kingdom but
    They don’t want God in it”

    -Johnny Cash

    But seriously, the Unitarians aren’t good enough?

  • http://www.classicalarminian.com/ Willam Birch

    “I wonder what they sing. ‘Imagine,’ probably.” Hilarious!

    Why did they choose Sunday? What is so special about Sunday that they should celebrate life on a Sunday? Very curious.

    Their “liturgy” reminds me of the Southern Baptist church in which I was reared — they use the exact same program — I’m not even joking.

    Okay, my votes for songs:

    Opening: “God’s Love” — Bad Religion
    Before “Final Address”: “What a Wonderful World” — Louis Armstrong
    Closing: “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” — Nirvana

  • Jon

    True Colors – Cindy Lauper

    And for the holiday season:

    Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time – Sir Paul McCartney & Wings

    Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Johnny Mercer

    Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt

  • John Drake

    How about “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas? http://youtu.be/g0zSB2WEtwU

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I wonder what will be in their lectionary for the “reading” part of the service.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I am Beautiful-Christiana Aguilera

    Dear God-X.T.C.

    What would be more interesting is the texts they would use as their “Scripture.” I propose Crowley, LaVey, Nietzche, Darwin, and Marx

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Eagles- “The Heart of the Matter”

    Would go well with a talk on broken relationships.

  • Abby

    “You say you want a revolution?”

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Or how about “Revolution 9″ from the same Beatles album.
    That would probably be representative of their addled non-theology.

  • helen

    J. Dean @ 14
    What would be more interesting is the texts they would use as their “Scripture.” I propose Crowley, LaVey, Nietzche, Darwin, and Marx.

    And Ayn Rand

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    I’m thinking some of the songs featured in an atheist liturgy should be from Blues Clues:

    Sit down in our Thinking Chair and think…think…think!
    Cause when we use our mind, take a step at a time
    We can do anything…that we wanna do!

    or…

    We sat on down
    Figured it out
    What Blue’s Clues are all about
    Hey, you know what?
    You’re really smart!

  • fjsteve

    If I wanted to spend my Sunday mornings listening to a bunch of intolerably pedantic people, there are plently of real churches I can go to. This is just silliness for the sake of being silly.

  • Abby

    @19 That is funny. I love Blue’s Clues!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Pretty much all the kids shows on TV could provide children’s messages. Of course atheists have hardly any kids. It is our kids who get the steady diet of atheist church appropriate kid’s messages.

  • DonS

    I was going to say what John said @ 9 — this sounds pretty Unitarian. I guess the difference is that Unitarians claim to accept all religions, while these folks accept none. Looks the same in practice, however.

  • Jeff

    As a former atheist this is really interesting. They always talk about the wonder of the universe and how cool the scientific endeavor is. In my opinion their worldview doesn’t warrant this assertion. If an atheist takes his worldview seriously he has no room for joy or wonder. The world is full of pain and suffering that has no overarching purpose. The best that you can hope for is to be lucky enough to make it to your grave with as little pain as possible.

    I think Richard Dawkins said it best:

    “Nature is not cruel, pitiless, indifferent. This is one of the hardest lessons for humans to learn. We cannot admit that things might be neither good nor evil, neither cruel nor kind, but simply callous — indifferent to all suffering, lacking all purpose.”
    -Richard Dawkins

    I don’t know how anybody could be an atheist and have any joy. Thank God for Jesus.

  • Abby

    They could add “Ask Dr Science” to their weekly program:

  • Abby

    “Ask Dr Science” — about insect religion, “beetles are Lutheran!”

  • CRB

    I would “imagine” that “Eleanor Rigby” would be the chosen song for funerals. Or, maybe “Lucy in the sky with diamonds”?

  • kerner

    “I got plenty of nothin’”

    Hayward/Gershwin

    Not quite perfect, but at least some of the lyrics fit.

  • Friendly guy

    I think you are being a touch harsh. I am an atheist, and I have plenty of joys, just like everyone else:

    1) My kids. They amuse me every day. One of my goals in life is to bring them up as happy and healthy people.

    2) My wife.

    3) My work. I take pride – and I guess you could say joy – in a job well done.

    4) The outdoors. Camping, backpacking, swimming, running, you name it. There is certainly wonder there, and an appreciation of nature.

  • Friendly guy

    Well, being an atheist doesn’t mean you don’t have values. Many of these are the same as Christian values:

    Honesty
    Fidelity
    Kindness
    Compassion

    You don’t have to believe in the supernatural to be a good person.


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