Schism in the atheist church, already

The atheist church we’ve blogged about, the Sunday Assembly, has split over doctrinal issues, worship style, and fellowship controversies.  The breakaway denomination is calling itself Godless Revival. [Read more…]

Top religion stories of 2013

After the jump, the top religion news stories of 2013, based on a  poll of the Religion Newswriters Association.  Strangely downplayed or omitted:  the persecution of Christians in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East; the new assaults on religious liberty; the new prominence of aggressive atheism; the rise of the “nones.”

What do you think should be included?  What do you think of this list?  Was 2013 a good year or a bad year for religion? [Read more…]

Churches, sects, denominations, and non-denominations

Sociologist of religion Peter Berger (an ELCA Lutheran) discusses the phenomenon of the Sunday Assembly, which we blogged about yesterday.  He said the fact that atheists too are gathering together following the pattern of religious activities demonstrates the almost universal human need to worship (or the equivalent) and to join together with others who hold common religious or philosophical convictions.

In the course of his discussion, he draws on older sociologists who distinguish between different kinds of religious institutions:  a church (which a person is born into) and a sect (which a person chooses to join).  Such a distinction, it seems to me, grows out of the European state church.  American religion, according to Dr. Berger, has added the concept of the denomination, which a person may be born into or choose freely to join.  Dr. Berger further says that denominations of one sort or another–in the sense of “a community of value, religious or otherwise,” have become inevitable in America, extending even to atheists.

After the jump, read his argument and some questions I have about “non-denominational” churches.  [Read more…]

Sunday Assembly

If you were travelling through Dallas, Chicago , Nashville, Grand Rapids, or other cities in America, Great Britain, or Australia, you might come across a congregation called Sunday Assembly.  That would not be what it sounds like, some offshoot of the Assembly of God.  This is an assembly of atheists.   They meet on Sundays in congregations for singing (not hymns, of course, but songs like “Lean on Me” and “Imagine”), teaching, and fellowship.

We’ve blogged about this before, talking about the group’s liturgy (in fact, the Sunday Assembly website links to our post in the “about” section).  After the jump, see the denomination’s 10-point creed. [Read more…]

Prominent neo-Pagan becomes a Christian

Teo Bishop, a prominent neo-Pagan–a celebrity among Druids and Witches–has announced his conversion to Christianity.  He now says, “I’m overwhelmed with thoughts of Jesus. . . Jesus and God and Christianity and the Lord’s Prayer and compassion and forgiveness and hope. … I don’t know what to do with all of this.” [Read more…]

Speedfaithing

You know about speed dating.  A man and a woman sit down together for 3-8 minutes (depending on how it’s set up) to see if they hit it off, then move to a new table for 3-8 minutes with someone else.  Now there is speedfaithing, in which people go to different tables to hear from advocates of different religions, who have 10 minutes to make their case.

After the jump, a news story about speedfaithing in Irvine, California, along with a challenge for you commenters. I’m struck more, though, about the last sentence of the story and what it reveals about what people, including this atheist, think religion is all about.  ” ‘I’m a good person,'” says the atheist representative, “‘ and I don’t necessarily need religion to show I’m a good person.’ ”  OK.  Then there are the Christian tables for all of us bad persons; that is, sinners. [Read more…]