Yes, tea and cake is served at the end of each ‘meeting’, but it’s not your typical church, it’s a gathering of people who do not believe God exists.
It looks like a typical Sunday morning at any megachurch, except there’s one thing missing – God.
Sunday Assembly, Britain’s atheist church, is a gathering for the non-believers.
Nearly three dozen gatherings nicknamed “atheist mega-churches” by supporters and detractors have sprung up around the US and Australia – with more to come – after finding success in Great Britain at the beginning of the year.
And the movement, fueled by social media and led by prominent British comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, is no joke.
“The Sunday Assembly has been called the atheist church, but we prefer to think of it as all the best bits of church but with no religion and awesome songs,” Jones told ABC.
“Our motto is “live better, help often and wonder more”, and our mission is to help everyone live this one life as fully as possible.
“I am at the moment doing this phone call from Nashville, Tennessee, and we are launching a Sunday Assembly in the buckle of the Bible Belt.”
The faithless faith doesn’t have a doctrine to rely on, instead taking reference from the arts and nature.
About 100 people turn up for each assembly. A typical service includes inspirational talks, readings and sing-alongs and always finishes with tea and cake.
The founders aim to raise more than $US800,000 to help launch new congregations around the world. So far, they have raised about $US50,000.
They want to find a new way to meet likeminded people and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith.
Jones got the idea while leaving a Christmas carol concert six years ago.
“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 said.
“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?” [NL]