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After a schism, a question: Can atheist churches last?
Sunday Assembly founders Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans have begun to franchise their "godless congregations."
January 4th, 2014
09:00 AM ET

After a schism, a question: Can atheist churches last?

By Katie Engelhart, special to CNN

LONDON (CNN) - The Sunday Assembly was riding high.

The world’s most voguish - though not its only - atheist church opened last year in London, to global attention and abundant acclaim.

So popular was the premise, so bright the promise, that soon the Sunday Assembly was ready to franchise, branching out into cities such as New York, Dublin and Melbourne.

“It’s a way to scale goodness,” declared Sanderson Jones, a standup comic and co-founder of The Sunday Assembly, which calls itself a “godless congregation.”

But nearly as quickly as the Assembly spread, it split, with New York City emerging as organized atheism’s Avignon.

In October, three former members of Sunday Assembly NYC announced the formation of a breakaway group called Godless Revival.

“The Sunday Assembly,” wrote Godless Revival founder Lee Moore in a scathing blog post, “has a problem with atheism.”

Moore alleges that, among other things, Jones advised the NYC group to “boycott the word atheism” and “not to have speakers from the atheist community.” It also wanted the New York branch to host Assembly services in a churchlike setting, instead of the Manhattan dive bar where it was launched.

Jones denies ordering the NYC chapter to do away with the word “atheism,” but acknowledges telling the group “not to cater solely to atheists.” He also said he advised them to leave the dive bar “where women wore bikinis,” in favor of a more family-friendly venue.

The squabbles led to a tiff and finally a schism between two factions within Sunday Assembly NYC. Jones reportedly told Moore that his faction was no longer welcome in the Sunday Assembly movement.

Moore promises that his group, Godless Revival, will be more firmly atheistic than the Sunday Assembly, which he now dismisses as “a humanistic cult.”

In a recent interview, Jones described the split as “very sad.” But, he added, “ultimately, it is for the benefit of the community. One day, I hope there will soon be communities for every different type of atheist, agnostic and humanist. We are only one flavor of ice cream, and one day we hope there'll be congregations for every godless palate."

Nevertheless, the New York schism raises critical questions about the Sunday Assembly. Namely: Can the atheist church model survive? Is disbelief enough to keep a Sunday gathering together?

Big-tent atheism

I attended my first service last April, when Sunday Assembly was still a rag-tag venture in East London.

The service was held in a crumbly, deconsecrated church and largely populated by white 20-somethings with long hair and baggy spring jackets (a group from which I hail.)

I wrote that the Assembly “had a wayward, whimsical feel. At a table by the door, ladies served homemade cakes and tea. The house band played Cat Stevens. Our ‘priest’ wore pink skinny jeans.”

I judged the effort to be “part quixotic hipster start-up, part Southern megachurch.”

The central idea was attractive enough. The Assembly described itself as a secular urban oasis, where atheists could enjoy the benefits of traditional church - the sense of community, the weekly sermon, the scheduled time for reflection, the community service opportunities, the ethos of self-improvement, the singing and the free food - without God. I liked the vibe and the slogan: “Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More.”

Shortly thereafter, Assembly services began bringing in hundreds of similarly warm-and-fuzzy nonbelievers. The wee East London church grew too small, and the Assembly moved to central London’s more elegant Conway Hall.

The Assembly drew criticism, to be sure—from atheists who fundamentally object to organized disbelief, from theists who resent the pillaging of their texts and traditions. But coverage was largely positive - and it was everywhere.

In September, a second wave of coverage peaked, with news that the Assembly was franchising: across England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, the United States and Australia. That month, the founders launched a crowd-funding campaign that aims to raise $802,500. (As of mid-December, less than $56,000 had been raised.)

Still, prospective Sunday Assembly franchisers seemed exhilarated. Los Angeles chapter founder Ian Dodd enthused that he would “have a godless congregation in the city of angels.” In November, his inaugural Assembly drew more than 400 attendees.

But as the atheist church grew, it began to change—and to move away from its atheism.

“How atheist should our Assembly be?” wrote Jones in August. “The short answer to that is: not very.”

Pippa Evans, Assembly’s other co-founder, elaborated: “‘Atheist Church’ as a phrase has been good to us. It has got us publicity. But the term ‘atheist’ does hold negative connotations.”

Warm-and-fuzzy atheism gave way to not-quite atheism: or at least a very subdued, milquetoast nonbelief. Sunday services made much mention of “whizziness” and “wonder”—but rarely spoke of God’s nonexistence.

The newer, bigger Sunday Assembly now markets itself as a kind of atheist version of Unitarian Univeralism: irreligious, but still eager to include everyone.

In a way, this is a smart move. According to the 2012 Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 20% of Americans have no religious affiliation, but just a fraction of those identify as atheists.

A godless congregation is likely to draw crowds if it appeals to what Herb Silverman, founder of the Secular Coalition for America, calls “big-tent” atheism, which includes “agnostics, humanists, secular humanists, freethinkers, nontheists, anti-theists, skeptics, rationalists, naturalists, materialists, ignostics, apatheists, and more.”

But atheists who wanted a firmly atheist church—a Sunday Assembly where categorical disbelief is discussed and celebrated—will not be satisfied.

As the Sunday Assembly downplays its atheism, it also appears increasingly churchlike.

Starting a Sunday Assembly chapter now involves a “Sunday Assembly Everywhere accreditation process,” which grants “the right to use all the Sunday Assembly materials, logos, positive vibe and goodwill.”

Aspiring Sunday Assembly founders must form legal entities and attend “training days in the UK,” sign the Sunday Assembly Charter and pass a three- to six-month peer review. Only then may formal accreditation be granted.

This is not an East London hipster hyper-localism anymore.

Selling swag and charisma

Organized atheism is not necessarily new. French Revolutionaries, for instance, were early atheist entrepreneurs.

In 1793, secularists famously seized the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, to build a “Temple of Reason.” They decorated the church with busts of philosophers, built an altar to Reason, lit a torch of Truth - and brought in an actress to play Liberty.

A half-century later, French philosopher Auguste Comte drew acclaim for his “religion of humanity,” which imagined an army of secular sages ministering to secular souls. London has hosted formal atheist gatherings for almost as long.

History suggests, then, that there is nothing inherently anti-organization about atheism. As Assembly’s Sanderson Jones puts it, “things which are organized are not necessarily bad.”

To be sure, Sunday Assembly members in the United States say they've long wanted to join atheist congregations.

Ian Dodd, a 50-something camera operator in Los Angeles, had long been a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church; he enjoyed it, but wanted something more explicitly irreligious.

Nicole Steeves of the Chicago chapter found herself yearning for a secular community—a “place to check in and think about things bigger than the day-to-day”—after having her first child.

But it is one thing to support an atheist "church" - where the ‘c’ is small and the effort is local - and another to back an atheist ‘Church’ that is global and centralized.

The former responds directly to the needs and fancies of its community. The latter assumes that its particular brand of disbelief is universally relevant—and worthy of trademark.

Centralized atheism also feeds hungrily on charisma, and Sanderson Jones, who resembles a tall, bearded messiah - and who, despite the SA recommendation that Assembly hosts should be regularly rotated, dominates each London service - provides ample fuel.

But it remains to be seen whether the Sunday Assembly’s diluted godlessness is meaty enough to sustain a flock.

“Because it is a godless congregation, we don’t have a doctrine to rely on,” explains Sunday Assembly Melbourne’s founder, “so we take reference from everything in the world.”

So far, Assembly sermonizers had included community workers, physicists, astronomers, wine writers, topless philanthropers, futurologists, happiness experts, video game enthusiasts, historians and even a vicar. The pulpit is open indeed.

My own misgivings are far less academic. I’m simply not getting what the Sunday Assembly promised. I’m not put off by the secular church model, but rather the prototype.

Take an October service in London, for example:

Instead of a thoughtful sermon, I got a five-minute Wikipedia-esque lecture on the history of particle physics.

Instead of receiving self-improvement nudges or engaging in conversation with strangers, I watched the founders fret (a lot) over technical glitches with the web streaming, talk about how hard they had worked to pull the service off, and try to sell me Sunday Assembly swag.

What’s more, instead of just hop, skipping and jumping over to a local venue, as I once did, I now had to brave the tube and traverse the city.

Back in New York, Lee Moore is gearing up for the launch of Godless Revival - but still speaks bitterly of his time with the Sunday Assembly network.

Over the telephone, I mused that the experience must have quashed any ambition he ever had to build a multinational atheist enterprise.

“Actually,” he admitted, “we do have expansion aims.”

Katie Engelhart is a London-based writer. Follow her at @katieengelhart or www.katieengelhart.com.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church • Faith • Houses of worship • Leaders

soundoff (4,535 Responses)
  1. tallulah13

    I suspect that about 98% of all atheists don't actually care.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:25 pm |
    • doobzz

      Exactly.

      January 4, 2014 at 10:30 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Care about what?

      January 5, 2014 at 11:01 am |
    • DGW

      Sure. That's why they've come here in droves to argue. Uh-huh.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:18 am |
      • doobzz

        Droves? LOL. Nope.

        January 5, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
    • James Wattsonn

      I don't

      January 5, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
    • Friedrich

      talllulah, you are absolutely correct.

      January 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
  2. richie

    What he hell do they even need churches for? Do they want little cult denominations cluttering every town?

    January 4, 2014 at 10:24 pm |
    • Dandintac

      I can understand the desire for a church to attend. It's about community more than belief. A place to meet and greet and get to know people who have similar values and outlook. A forum for weddings and funerals within this community. Social networking. Moral and emotional support in times of crisis. A way to make friends and the ritual of meeting every week and having philosophical discussions about right and wrong, what is good or not, and so on. A lot of atheists would like to have all that without the superst-tious claptrap of a religious church.

      My sister is a non-believer like myself. Her husband is Christian. They go to a Unitarian Church. I've thought about looking for a Humanist/Unitarian Church, but my wife and I enjoy sleeping in on the weekends.

      January 5, 2014 at 12:16 am |
    • bushgirlsgonewild

      Nope, already got that. All over America. 33,000 Denominations at last count.

      January 9, 2014 at 10:38 pm |
  3. Andrew

    We all "worship" the same thing, Reason. Can't we all just get along?

    January 4, 2014 at 10:19 pm |
    • ThereIsNoGod

      You obviously have never talked to a religious nut job...reason is not part of their vocabulary.

      January 5, 2014 at 2:42 am |
      • Richard

        By your post, you show me you are the one with the problem.

        January 5, 2014 at 6:45 am |
        • aldewacs2

          Nah .. he's right.

          January 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
        • Friedrich

          he definitely is right. You cant discuss reasonably with a religious nutjob that put faith over reasoning.....

          January 5, 2014 at 6:34 pm |
      • owlafaye

        Agreed...ThereisNoGod

        January 12, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
  4. LuLu

    Talk a whole lot of nothing, just bring your debit card. Has all the same elements of Church.

    Like other so called "Christian" or Non Christians, still the same, at gatherings don't have to include talking or acknowledging the existence of God, just pay you part to support the clergyman/women"s life style.

    “Of course, every house is constructed by someone, but he that constructed all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4) No one would dispute that God is greater than anyone, for he is the Builder, or Creator, of all.

    (Matthew 10:8) . . .YOU received free, give free. . .

    January 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm |
  5. Andrew

    Two churches where there was one? Baptists call it growth and popularity.

    January 4, 2014 at 10:16 pm |
  6. poseidon

    Is that Jefferson Lebowski, for real??

    January 4, 2014 at 10:12 pm |
  7. keith

    It should last; at least they are speaking the truth based on scientific evidence and the fact that GOD/JESES is FAKE.....

    January 4, 2014 at 10:00 pm |
    • Ryan

      Do you have scientific proof that God can't exist? Don't speak of scientific evidence where none exists.

      January 4, 2014 at 10:26 pm |
      • ThereIsNoGod

        Do you have scientific evidence that god DOES exist? You are claiming an absurdity, the burden of proof is on you.

        January 5, 2014 at 2:45 am |
        • Richard

          I have the miracles of Lourdes. And you have hate. I will stick with the miracles, thanks anyway.

          January 5, 2014 at 6:46 am |
        • Glenn

          The real absurdity is that everything created itself....from nothing!.

          January 5, 2014 at 11:59 am |
        • doobzz

          Why do Christians always say that anyone who doesn't agree with them is hate-filled? They usually say it right before they tell you that their god is going to burn you in hell for all eternity because you don't think like they do.

          January 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I don't know why the universe is here, so I'm honest and say that I don't know why the universe is here. If you need to believe that a big invisible sky wizard chanted magic spells for six days so that you can feel ok about your existence without any mystery, then go ahead, Glenn

          January 5, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
        • StrangeLogic

          Kind of like god created everything AND himself.... from nothing!

          January 5, 2014 at 10:55 pm |
        • owlafaye

          @doobzz...Christians demonstrate their belief that Hate is a family value. They do and deny all in on breath.

          January 12, 2014 at 6:02 pm |
      • MAGIC IS NOT REAL

        >"Do you have scientific proof that god can't exist"

        YES! MAGIC IS NOT REAL!!!

        January 5, 2014 at 7:16 pm |
      • owlafaye

        As usual, Ryan and his ilk duck the responsibility of proof...the onus is on you and your invisible zombie god in the sky son.

        January 12, 2014 at 6:00 pm |
  8. Dandintac

    Atheism is no foundation for any sort of church. This is simply because atheism is too simple–it's just a label for those who answer "no" to a single question, and more importantly, Atheism is a label for what you DON'T believe. I know it's a popular meme among believers to try to load atheism up with a bunch of doctrinal baggage and claim it as a religion, but this is nothing more than a juvenile attempt at "Okay–so I'm irrational–but you are too, so there!"

    The allure of being a part of a caring community where people network, meet regularly, work on projects together, provide moral and emotional support for each other, and so on. It cannot be denied that churches do perform an important community function.

    We atheists would be better to join a Humanist or Unitarian Church that matches the values that we hold individually. I am an atheist, but it says nothing about what I am or believe, other than the fact that I do not believe claims that gods actually exist as anything other than myths.

    However, as a Naturalist and Humanist, these are indeed ideologies that do say things about what I believe, and therefore provide a more sound foundation for a church.

    My sister does not believe in gods, but her husband is a Christian. They attend a Unitarian church together. My wife and I are thinking of doing the same, but we're not sure if we want to wake up early Sunday!!

    January 4, 2014 at 9:48 pm |
    • silence

      Sounds like people in London are atheist and the "church" in New York is full of God haters. One looks to their church for a sense of community. The other is a place to be as irreverent as possible.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
      • doobzz

        Sounds like you don't understand the difference between disbelief and hate.

        January 5, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
      • owlafaye

        Atheists don't hate your god, they hate your ignorance.

        January 12, 2014 at 6:03 pm |
  9. shawbrooke

    Guess many atheists actually recognize the value of life build in Christian principles, at the same time as they decry the same activities done by Christians. Does this mean that atheists will soon join Christians who prefer that kids could play hockey and adults could work in retail without working on Sunday before 1:30?

    January 4, 2014 at 9:46 pm |
    • doobzz

      The golden rule is not a Christian invention.

      January 5, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
    • Dandintac

      Agreeing to certain principles is not the same as agreement in certain myths. For example, one can agree with the principle of pacifism, but not believe that Jesus was divine or that any gods exist.

      Many principles, in fact I would say the best principles to be found in the Bible can be found in many other cultures and religions.

      So belief in gods or in Jesus is no prerequisite for living a good and moral life.

      Thanks

      January 5, 2014 at 5:43 pm |
      • owlafaye

        Actually the Bible is a Johnny-come-lately in the realm of wisdom, morals and principle. Not exactly a happy, peaceful, loving, caring tome.

        January 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
  10. Chris

    I find the whole concept of an Atheist church laughable. You cannot teach atheism as to do that you need to teach anti-religion and it just doesn't work. People are atheists because it is what they believe, they learned things in church and over that thought out those teachings and saw how it was wrong.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:34 pm |
    • ThereIsNoGod

      Atheism is a journey that one must come to realize on their own. The easiest way to complete that journey is, without a doubt, to read the bible. When I finally decided to read the darn thing; that's when I realize what a bunch of crap it really is.

      January 5, 2014 at 2:52 am |
      • Dandintac

        Absolutely! When I was a teenager, I called myself a Biblical Christian, and believed it. But up until my late teens, everyone had told me what to think, and we had only read select passages together. Then I read the whole thing, and after that, I could no longer call myself a Biblical Christian.

        After that though, I still thought of myself as a Christian and believed in God. But one question leads to another. Reading the Bible was like a pebble thrown up on the highway into your windshield. Cracks grew. I became much more passive in my Christian beliefs as I matured. As I learned more, I discarded my beliefs more and more. Soon, I no longer claimed to be a Christian, but just believed in God. Years later, I had gradually changed and realized I didn't really believe it. I had learned to value evidence. So for many years I called myself an agnostic. In my mid-40s, I realized they were pretty much the same thing–except that one was about knowledge, the other about belief.

        Deconversion is a process with most people. It takes a lot of time and thinking. Some people go through it more quickly than others–depending on how much they were brainwashed as a kid, and how much they think on it as adults.

        January 5, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
    • Kuta

      "People are atheists because it is what they believe"

      Honest for a change. Atheists have no real proof of their worldview. They rely on belief and faith like everyone else.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:00 am |
      • MAGIC IS NOT REAL

        >"Atheists have no real proof of their worldview."

        Yes, we do: MAGIC IS NOT FVCK1NG REAL!!!!

        Your magical jewish wizard, yahweh, not only does not exist, but CANNOT exist. WHY? MAGIC IS NOT REAL!
        If you're not down with that, then you're a DVMBFVCK!!!

        January 5, 2014 at 7:25 pm |
      • owlafaye

        I can't conjure Belief or Faith out of the sentence: No God!

        January 12, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
  11. Robert Raulerson

    " I believe in the After-Life = " I don't wanna die! I don't want death to be real! Waaaaahhhh!"

    January 4, 2014 at 9:23 pm |
    • DowMan57445744

      lol

      January 5, 2014 at 10:55 am |
    • DGW

      You don't want to die either, bud. Your way of dealing with it is different, not superior.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:22 am |
  12. she'sgotthatlookinhereyes

    *+*+

    January 4, 2014 at 9:20 pm |
  13. Robert Raulerson

    A man once told me that if Gawd didn't exist you could just run down the street shooting people. Nothing matters without Gawd. So why not? I told him to keep believing in Gawd then. But I would have you know that all of us don't feel that way. And I think yer weerd.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:15 pm |
  14. Alias

    All the benefits, none of the lies.
    It sounds like it could work.

    January 4, 2014 at 9:08 pm |
  15. Vic

    LOL. That sounds like a mock movement channeling Christianity.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I agree. Christians churches have internal rifts all the time. Good point.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:30 am |
  16. Robert Raulerson

    No-God is the True God. Start not believing in IT today!

    January 4, 2014 at 8:40 pm |
    • Sunflower

      if you don't believe in God then why waste time in believing in anything?

      January 4, 2014 at 8:49 pm |
      • doobzz

        Do you believe in anything besides your god? I do. I believe in lots of things. Your god isn't one of them, though.

        January 4, 2014 at 10:08 pm |
        • owlafaye

          Like a vegetarian diet...you can eat thousands of things, just not fish, pork, beef(mammals) or bird.

          I believe in thousands of things, just not Gods, jesus or ghosts (angels) demons etc.

          January 12, 2014 at 6:10 pm |
        • doobzz

          Or, you can make it whatever you want it to be. A friend's daughter maintains that she's a vegetarian, but eats chicken, because "Chickens are ugly but cows are cute." She's also 34 years old and completely serious.

          January 12, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
      • ThereIsNoGod

        Well I for one believe in the following:
        LOVE. I love my wife and children and I would do anything to keep them safe and healthy for a long time. No god can tell me they come second.
        LIFE. Life is precious and all of it should be preserved. No god has any right to murder.

        January 5, 2014 at 2:57 am |
        • owlafaye

          Yahweh is the biggest murderer in history...you never hear a Christian saying "the Devil took him", nooooooooooooo, it is ALWAYS their God that takes them.

          January 12, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
      • Satan

        He's got a point. If by "believe" you mean irrational belief (such as religious belief), then no, I do not believe in anything in that way.

        January 5, 2014 at 11:52 pm |
    • Richard

      If you are so sure in your unbelief, please explain why your side has to attack me and my church why not just not worship and shut up, I don't run around preaching. Give it a rest.

      January 5, 2014 at 6:49 am |
      • Evert van Vliet

        There is nothing yours, only Tweets survive 'til they too go belly up.

        Chances are you feel attacked by observations though, be aware that's 'just' that; a feeling.

        January 5, 2014 at 6:58 am |
      • god

        Kinda sad and funny after all the Physical attacks christians have done though out the centuries. So has any Atheist ever beat you? I am going to guess no.

        January 5, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
      • Satan

        LOL, your god in on our money, so do not pretend like your religion is private

        January 5, 2014 at 11:55 pm |
      • owlafaye

        Your religion DOES run around preaching...proselytizing is a DICTATE of your god and teachings.

        I highly resent it. I would prefer you to stay in your church and pray for atheists and do it often. This keeps you off our streets and out of our children's pants.

        January 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm |
  17. Sunflower

    didn't know they were in business of spreading like churches!!! I thought it was just a not believing in the existence of God.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:35 pm |
    • Robert Raulerson

      I see it as trying to undo the damage that religion does. Or at least limit the damage.

      January 4, 2014 at 8:38 pm |
      • Sunflower

        are you not becoming like them when you try to "force" your belief on people?

        January 4, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
  18. Robert Raulerson

    I've always said that if atheism is a religion, then it's the best religion. It's the one you want to believe in. The religion of no religion. The church of no church.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:34 pm |
  19. Honey Badger Don't Care

    Lie4him,

    This is a complete misnomer. There are no atheist "churches". They are groups of people who meet to share their lives. Churches are places for delusional people to congregate and tell themselves that they are the sane ones.

    January 3, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
    • Live4Him

      I see you live in denial.

      January 3, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
      • sam stone

        As do you, Lie4Him

        January 4, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
      • Alias

        Some one who argued that Satan took jesus to the moon is acusing another poster of living in denial.
        It is time to make pot legal everywhere.

        January 4, 2014 at 9:10 pm |
        • owlafaye

          Laughter w/Alias

          January 12, 2014 at 6:15 pm |
    • splitid

      Agreed. The press love "atheist church" but it makes no sense. Atheists get together and listen to speakers, listen to some music, spend time together. It's nothing new and I don't see how being social smacks of "religion." It's just one more style to go with the many other atheist gatherings.

      January 4, 2014 at 9:16 pm |
    • Richard

      So just because I believe in God I am delusional. I bet you dream of Nazi camps for me and mine also. I have heard it from your side enough in the past. Really, I would rather be delusional and love all than be rotting with hate on the inside like you.

      January 5, 2014 at 6:51 am |
      • ItsMeSpfld

        Richard, I am an atheist. I am very firm in my belief that when I die at the end of this life, there will be no other life, I will only decompose, and turn into the dirt around me. I also believe that people shouldn't be forced to act morally because of some higher power. People should follow the laws of man, and always treat those around them as they would like to be treated. I am not a hateful person. I do not hate people that believe in a god. My parents both are catholic, and I love them very very much.

        Just because someone is an Atheist, does not make them a hateful person. Please, stop generalizing.

        January 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm |
      • owlafaye

        Christians see Hate as a family value...look at their treatment of the LGBT culture in America.

        No one has ever demonstrated Christians to be morally above or happier than the general population. They have however demonstrated Christians to be generally below the national IQ average, to comprise 95%+ of the prison population and to have created the largest amount of misery in civilized times.

        January 12, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
      • tallulah13

        @Richard.

        'm not familiar with the death camp comment. I'm on this blog a lot, and I've heard a few threats, but nothing as excessive as death camps. I have read several christians commenting on how atheists should not allowed to live in this country, and how we are immoral. A few have commented that we should be killed, and one even went so far to say that if he saw an atheist with car trouble on the side of the road, he would go out of the way to hit them with his car. Mostly, though, they just tell us that we deserve to be tortured forever.

        What I'm trying to say is that threats come from both side. If you want to play drama queen, more power to you. Most of us just take the threats with a grain of salt.

        January 12, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
  20. Live4Him

    WOW! Atheism cannot even last a year before it is splitting in small divisions.

    January 3, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
    • Trez

      Much like the 40000 different sects of Christianity. People are people, and disagreements are human nature.

      January 4, 2014 at 8:56 pm |
    • Maani

      Yup. Seems like there will be numerous "denominations" of atheists as there are of believers. The more they try to be like believers...the more they will end up like believers. Except, of course, without the belief. LOL.

      January 4, 2014 at 10:03 pm |
    • Dandintac

      L4H,

      It's not atheism itself that's splitting–just this church. How can atheism split? It's too simple to split. It's just the label we use to indicate people who do not believe in God.

      So it's not surprising that trying to base a church off of what you DON'T believe would be doomed to fail. There's no unified doctrine beyond that single question.

      Those who do not believe, like me, would probably do better to join a Unitarian Church or a Humanist Church, one that fits our values as individuals. Atheism tells you only one thing about what I don't believe. Humanism will tell you a little more about what I DO believe.

      Churches have community value–many atheists would like to have that without the supersti-tious nonsense. My wife and I are thinking of joining a Unitarian Church, but we're not sure that we want to wake up early on Sunday 🙂

      Question–I know Christians like to say things like: "you're an atheist–that means you don't believe in ANYTHING!" But this is not true. Have you ever asked an atheist what they do believe? Really discussed it with them?

      January 4, 2014 at 10:04 pm |
    • Dandintac

      I just thought of one more thing L4H. I think your gloat over the atheist church splitting is misplaced. Churches and religions of every imaginable type and character have split up over and over and over again over the centuries.

      We human beings are pretty hard to unify. We often have to feel threatened, forced or develop deep connections in some way. The larger the group, the harder the unity. So there's nothing worth the gloat here. Atheists are just as human as you are.

      January 4, 2014 at 10:10 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.