Echoing with joyful song and with a congregation bent on leading better lives, this London church is like any other – except there’s no mention of God (subscription required).
Britain’s atheist church is barely three months old but it already has more “worshippers” than can fit into its services, while more than 200 non-believers worldwide have contacted organisers to ask how they can set up their own branch, with one due to open in Australia next month.
Officially named The Sunday Assembly, the church was the brainchild of Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones, two comedians who suspected there might be an appetite for atheist gatherings that borrowed a few aspects of religious worship.
Held in an airy, ramshackle former church in north London, their quirky monthly meetings combine music, speeches and moral pondering with large doses of humour.
A BBC report compared the gathering with the church next door:
The Sunday Assembly certainly did better business than at the evangelical St Jude and St Paul’s Church next door, where about 30 believers gathered to sing gospel songs and listen to Bible readings.
Strange that the BBC didn’t mention the tens of thousands of Christians meeting that morning across London.
Don’t expect the atheist “church” to take the world by storm. Atheism struggles to generate commitment (with the exception of when it was backed by State power under Communism).
Atheism suffers from the inherent weakness of defining itself by what it is not. Even it’s forms—meeting in a disused church building, calling itself a congregation or assembly, singing pop songs as “hymns”—are a shadow of Christianity.