People bound by their belief in non-belief now attending Atheist mega-churches
Founded by British group, such churches taking root in Australia, United States
The church gives so much to others - a sense of community, shared vision and focus and lasting fellowship. The problem is - what if you're an atheist? A British comedy team have come up with the idea of atheist churches, where people bound by their faith in non-belief can come together and rejoice in - their lack of faith.
Atheist churches, or "Sunday Assemblies" are the brainchild of British duo Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans.
"There was so much about it that I loved, but it's a shame because at the heart of it, it's something I don't believe in," Jones says. "If you think about church, there's very little that's bad. It's singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people - and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?"
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Nearly three dozen gatherings dubbed "atheist mega-churches" have sprung up around the U.S. and Australia - with more to come, after finding success in Great Britain earlier this year.
At one such inaugural Sunday Assembly in Los Angeles, hundreds of people gathered to sing and rejoice. Other gatherings in San Diego, Nashville, New York and other U.S. cities have drawn hundreds of the non-faithful who seek the camaraderie of a congregation without religion or ritual.
Both Jones and Evans, are currently on a comedy tour entitled "40 Dates, 40 Nights" around the U.S. and Australia are trying to drum up donations to help launch new Sunday Assemblies. They hope to raise more than $800,000 that will help atheists launch their pop-up congregations around the world. They have raised about $50,000 so far.
Both say that they do not bash believers. Their goals are to find a new way to meet like-minded people, engage in the community and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith.
An increasing number of Americans are drifting from any religious affiliation, according to recent studies.
The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a study last year that found 20 percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15 percent in the last five years.
The researchers say that the category also encompassed majorities of people who said they believed in God but had no ties with organized religion and people who consider themselves "spiritual" but not "religious."
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