Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Atheist Mega-Churches?

That certainly caught my eye. "Atheist Mega-Churches Take Root Across US, World."

The facts as revealed in the article don't quite live up to the billing. Two British comedians have organized what they call "Sunday Assemblies" of atheists participating in what looks something like modern mega-church gatherings. They are on a "40 dates, 40 nights" tour across the USA and Australia. They hope to raise $800,000.00 to help start other Sunday Assemblies.
Hundreds of atheists and atheist-curious packed into a Hollywood auditorium for a boisterous service filled with live music, moments of reflection, an "inspirational talk" about forgotten - but important - inventors and scientists and some stand-up comedy.
All of these Sunday Assemblies together would not add up to a single "mega-church." I think that they used the term to reflect the relaxed atmosphere of many contemporary churches.

Supposedly these meetings will appeal to people who do not share Christian belief, but who miss the community and celebration of the church services. I have my doubts. I think they are just having fun mocking Christian churches. They are effectively saying, "See - we can even have church without God. So there!" (I wonder what would happen if they tried a mosque version of this?)

The article says they "don't bash believers but want to find a new way to meet likeminded people, engage in community and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith." I believe it is just a stunt - and maybe a way for two British comedians to make a living. There is no particular statement of faith that they are agreed on - so their views are quite diverse. There is no clear basis for people to commit to continued attendance, participation and support of these groups.

There are already plenty of churches that don't believe in God (e.g., Unitarian Universalist). There are already secular community service groups like the Kiwanis, Rotary, Lion's Club, etc. Atheists could find plenty of companionship and community in any of these. But they wouldn't be making fun of the Christians.

Ironically, many atheists are offended by the Sunday Assemblies because they argue that atheism is not a religion.


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