The Sunday Assembly: Religion For Nonbelievers?
One of the first things to travel to the New World from Britain was God. The Pilgrims and the Puritans, some of the first white settlers in America, were searching for a place where they would be free from religious persecution and allowed to worship as they wished. Now, centuries later, a new kind of worship called The Sunday Assembly is crossing the pond. Sunday Assembly defines itself as:
"...A godless congregation that celebrates life. Our motto: live better, help often, wonder more. Our mission: to help everyone find and fulfill their full potential. Our vision: a godless congregation in every town, city and village that wants one.
The congregation has no deity, no doctrine, and calls itself "radically inclusive." The founders, British comedians Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones, are currently on a "40 Dates, 40 Nights" tour of Europe, the US, and Australia trying to raise funds and spread the gospel (pun intended) of a godless church. In London, as many as 400 people gather every Sunday to take part in community, support each other, and discuss topics designed to help and inspire.
In an interview with the Washington Post. Evans commented that one of the goals of the Sunday Assembly is to imbue fun into atheist worship. And that fun, to her and Jones, involves one classic church staple: people singing together. The Sunday Assembly is an attempt to put community, thankfulness, and wonder into secular society by creating a space that has some of the trappings of church or temple without the doctrine.
But will this catch on? Or will the idea of a church that has nothing to do with God raise skepticism? Michael Luciano of Policy Mic writes:
The peripheral advantages of religion Jones describes can easily be achieved by other means and in a way that does not cloak the activities in pseudo-religious imagery, rituals, and language. Creating a church-like atheist institution plays directly into the hands of those who fundamentally misunderstand the philosophical underpinnings of the theism-atheism debate.
I personally cannot see the harm in a hyper-inclusive organization that gives those who do not identify with traditional religion a forum in which to celebrate life and connect with others. But will the Sunday Assembly meet the same success internationally that it has in England? God only knows.
Image: The Sunday Assembly/Facebook