Which of these things is not like the other: Sunday mornings, music, inspirational speakers, atheists? Trick question! They all belong together, reports the AP in a look at the "atheist mega-churches" that are now finding a toehold in the US. The "Sunday Assemblies" have relatively short roots, having been started in Britain earlier this year by comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans. They're currently touring the US and Australia in an effort to launch, promote, and raise funds for these pop-up congregations (their take to-date: $50,000 of an $800,000 goal).
The inaugural Sunday Assembly in Los Angeles took place yesterday, with several hundred people showing up and singing songs like "Lean on Me" and "Here Comes the Sun"; similar gatherings have been held in San Diego, Nashville, and New York. And rather than rag on church, the founders want Sunday Assembly (motto: "Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More") to be just like it, just minus God. Says Jones, "If you think about church, there's very little that's bad. It's singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks ... and helping other people. What part of that is not to like?" Not all atheists are on board, though. Says one, "There's something not OK with appropriating all of this religious language, imagery, and ritual for atheism." (In related news, a Christian college's student president recently dropped a bombshell: He's an atheist.)