New 'Atheist church' in N.C. plans to extend to the nations; 'godless congregation' imitates Christian worship

by Staff, |
In 2007 at the Atheist Alliance International Convention, a new symbol of atheism emerged.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Christian Examiner) -- An "atheist church" -- on a hill, has opened in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the godless group aims to imitate "all the best bits of church, but without the religion and with awesome pop songs," according to organizers. The Sunday Assembly was founded in London in 2013 and has grown considerably, with over 70 congregations across the world so far.

Services include a theme, a guest speaker, a poet and songs. This Sunday in Chapel Hill, Assembly visitors sang "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor and "Help!" by The Beatles, The Herald Sun reported. The theme was new beginnings, and the guest speaker, Kevin Jackson, talked about how his hard-partying ways and alcoholism changed once he became a father for the first time.

The atheist church wasn't without it's detractors. One attendee, Jeff Houghton, said it was too similar to church, and nothing like the more discussion-based atheist groups he previously attended.

"All that was missing here today was a minister," he said.

Another, Paul Deblinger, wanted more atheistic discussion as well.

"I guess I believe in nothing, and this was nothing," he told the Herald Sun.

Michelle Reed, Sara Howe and other organizers held the North Carolina meeting at the Hargraves Community Center, and they are seeking more members. Their next meeting is on Feb. 8.

"We welcome volunteers to help us build this community," Howe told The Durham News.

Sanderson Jones, who co-founded the Sunday Assembly, believes that those who come to their group can find direction and healing without any religious texts, set beliefs or deity. The group considers itself "radically inclusive," which means all beliefs are permitted.

"The Sunday Assembly is a godless congregation that celebrates life. Our motto: Live better, help often and wonder more. Our mission: to help everyone find and fulfill their full potential. Our vision: A Sunday Assembly in every town, city or village that wants one," he said previously.

The Sunday Assembly is planning to extend to South Africa, Brazil, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Belgium New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canada.