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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. Beggar1

    Does this surprise anyone? Atheist wanting to argue over who disbelieves the most? If you think about it, atheism is a mindset that puts the individual (self) above everything. Nothing is real until the individual atheist says it is. Have you ever had an argument with an atheist? One typically spends the entire discussion waiting for the atheist to accept the "truth" in question. This mindset replaces God with self and the individual decides what is true about creation, existence, even Church doctrine. And when they are not arguing a "truth", they are insulting believers with irreverent depictions of sacred beliefs and demeaning the believer as an ignorant fool. Is anyone surprised people like this will have trouble living in a community of disbelief?

    January 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
    • tony

      Sorry. It's just a non-belief in gods, along with Santa, unicorns and the dental hygine elf.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
      • Uncle Albert

        So why do you expend so much time and effort on it ???

        January 5, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • Mary

          Why are YOU here?

          January 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          Most atheists DON'T spend very much time and effort on it, which is one reason that religion — which does not lack for opportunists willing to make a buck off the gullible — has continued to flourish.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
    • Uncle Albert

      Great post. Oh, so true.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
    • mike

      "atheism is a mindset that puts the individual (self) above everything."

      No, it's not. Atheism is the antonym of theism. Atheism isn't even a thing without the context of theism. Puts the self above everything? It's no wonder theists think as they do, they just makes definitions up as they go.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
    • Mary Nodick

      A little backwards.
      The Christ follower puts themselves above all else, by indulging in the fantasy that they possess a soul that will survive their demise.
      Get it?
      You tell yourself you're doing the work of your god, you can help other people, in soup kitchens etc so that you appear to be helping others (and you are in small ways) but at the end of the day it is only the stick/carrot that makes you do it. You wish to safeguard your immortal soul from an eternity of torture.

      The errors come in believing in immortality, souls, gods, afterlives etc. All just metaphysical garbage not so different from belief systems about the other thousands of gods. So tell me again why your Christ-god is so different from all of the others?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
      • Beggar1

        All of Christendom, billions of believers, thousands of years, all defined in 3 paragraphs by one (individual) atheist. The only thing more obvious than the hubris is the irony.

        January 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
        • Cedar Rapids

          Shows how weak religion is that it can be so described

          January 5, 2014 at 2:06 pm |
    • George Romaka

      Atheism doesn't put the "individual above everything." When I look at the breadth and wonder of the universe, without a god claim, I feel winderfully insignificant. I'm a speck on an awesome speck, born of stardust, destined to die, with what happens in the in-between being largely a matter if how I want to spend it. I feel lucky to be here: that every one ofmy ancestors survived to reproduce, resulting eventually in the combination of genes that makes my matter matter to me.

      Theism teaches that everything was created, on purpose, just for us, and that the creator of the universe has a plan, just for you.

      Who puts the individual above everything?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
      • Beggar1

        George, I love the "speck on a speck" metaphor. We are all a "speck on a speck" in an ocean of infinite "specks". And a very small percentage of "specks" (atheist) will tell us that it all is random and meaningless. It is the case of the finite defining the infinite.

        January 5, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
        • a reasonable atheist

          How does stating a lack of belief in gods equate to stating that "all is random and meaningless?" That's right, it doesn't. Your supposition is a wonderful blend of your own ignorance with a straw man.

          January 5, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
      • Numb nut

        I love you, George.

        January 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
  2. Andrew Planet

    Only if it evolves out of being patriarchally bias especially in ancestral lineage celebration. Most females are patrilineal. because originally they were trophies of war. Mitochondrial DNA is the undisputable proof of female lineage apart from basic common sense. The vast majority of belief systems on Earth are patriarchally bias no matter it they are religious based or not

    January 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
  3. tony

    Gods need collection plates, like Atheists need churches

    January 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
  4. Justina

    Every day Christ followers read that silly book (I read a few pages every few days since one is here, so I can vouch for its ridiculousness).

    Yet if every god-believer on the planet just spent that same time looking for just one shred of proof for this particular god over say, Apollo, Ra, Zeus, the God of the Aztecs, the Hindu gods etc ... well, maybe we would be getting somewhere...

    January 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
  5. SatanHimself

    Atheist Church? No, we don't have churches nor do we need to congregate to validate our lives. These people are clearly hipster hucksters giving everyone a good trolling.

    January 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
    • tallulah13

      No kidding.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
  6. jewoodbur

    Isn't the term "atheist church" an oxymoron? What do they do "at church?"

    January 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • Sunflower

      play Poker!!!

      January 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      They actually explain what they do in the article. Did you read it, or are you just responding to the headline?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
    • TiredofSilly1

      As an atheist, I agree 100%. What on earth is the point???? One of the benefits of being a non-believer is being able to sleep in on Sunday, for cryin' out loud!!! This is just dumb. I don't need to hang out with other non-believers to confirm my non-belief. That's more like what the believers need.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
    • logan5

      I imagine they gather to celebrate contrived , made up ideals. You know.... just like Christians do!

      January 5, 2014 at 1:54 pm |
    • doobzz

      Another brilliant one asking about oxymorons. We should start a count of how many Christians use that one thinking they've come up with something original.

      January 5, 2014 at 2:01 pm |
  7. Sunflower

    If atheists have Churches, do they have a day they go to church like Sunday? Just wondering...

    January 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • Mary

      Did you not read the article?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
      • Sunflower

        why waste time when I have you around, woman?

        January 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
        • doobzz

          Using the term "woman" as a pejorative is particularly amusing coming from someone who chose the name "Sunflower".

          January 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
    • ME II

      Didn't read the article?
      The main group is called "Sunday Assembly".

      January 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
      • Sunflower

        I know, why do atheists take rest on Sunday, and go to "Church", like Christians?

        January 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
        • doobzz

          Is that the only argument you have, that their meeting day is the same as your meeting day, man? Weak sauce, man. And, man, man.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
  8. Uncle Albert

    Why aren't there churches dedicated to the "lack of belief" in Santa Claus ???

    January 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • Mary

      So start one. You'll be by yourself, but at least you'll have first dibs on snacks.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
    • ME II

      Perhaps because no one is trying to ban Elf marriages.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
  9. jewoodbur

    Isn't "atheist church" an oxymoron?

    January 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
    • doobzz

      Gosh, what a remarkable insight! You're only the thousandth person to come up with that brilliant thought! Please, please, tell us another one!

      January 5, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
  10. Uncle Albert

    These atheists need a church because the KNOW something is missing.
    The anthropological record proves that humans are "hardwired" to believe.

    January 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
    • ME II

      Hardwired to be curious and come up with all sorts of crazy ass ideas, true.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
    • hee hee

      You may be right. Does that make it true?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
      • Uncle Albert

        That's the point.
        It doesn't have to.
        Read some Joseph Campbell.

        January 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
        • hee hee

          If you think that's an answer, I'll have to pass on your reading recommendations.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
    • sybaris

      if belief were true there would be only one belief

      January 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
      • Uncle Albert

        Have you ever read William James' "The Varieties of Religious Experience"???

        There really IS only one belief.

        January 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
        • Observer

          Uncle Albert,

          Tell the ancient Greeks.

          Get serious.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
    • tony

      If "hardwired to believe", then where is "free will"?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      In fact, predisposition to believe that there's a sentient agent behind physical events — what Daniel Dennett calls the "intentional stance" and I refer to as the "secret agent theory" — undoubtedly conferred survival value on our ancestors. Consider Lug and Wug walking across the veldt. There's a rustling in the tall grass. Lug screams "Lion!" and runs off. Wug laffs and says "It's only the wind, you dope." 99 times out of 100, Wug has a funny story to tell when they get back to the campsite. The 100th time Lug arrives alone to propagate the species and his belief system.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
      • G to the T

        Spot on. We are essentially pattern recognition machines. It's safer to apply agency to unknown causes because it's the more (evolutionarily speaking) conservative choice.

        January 5, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Males are "hardwired" to spread their seed with as many females as possible. Why aren't you advocating that behavior? What a p!ss poor excuse for logic..God is invisible, undetectable, and irrelevant by any measurable method; therefore, disbelief is the only rational option for an honest and introspective critical thinker.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm |
      • Ann

        We're also hardwired to defecate, so maybe we should make that a sacrament.

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

      People like to believe in something to help make sense of things - like loss of a loved one. But, why do Christians reject all the other beliefs (Hindu, Islam, Jewish, Mayan, Aztec, Egyptians, etc.) that do the same thing?

      January 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm |
  11. Blake

    It is amazing to me that people can look at all of Gods creations, the detailed identifying features that make up each person or thing and come to the conclusion that it just all happened in a " bang". What it comes down to is people do not want to obey God, they want to self serve themselves to as much wealth, pleasure that they can get. I sincerely hope and pray that people open their eyes and realize that we have a creator and his word ( the bible) is our guide. We can't pick and choose what we want to believe or use, we have to abide in all things. Mocking God with these assemblies is one of the sickening issues this world has right now, everything is ok and permissable or we are bigots. As for me, I will serve The Lord and I can only hope that everyone else will do the same.

    D

    January 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
    • Justina

      Dumbest post of the day award!

      GEE look at all the details out there, SOMETHING had to have made it all! I know, maybe its the bronze age god of the Jews! Yah, that one gives eternal life to us and eternal pain to our enemies, let's choose that one!!!

      Stupid is as stupid does.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • tallulah13

      It amazes me that people can ignore real evidence and real natural phenomena and still think "goddidit". It's a failure of our educational system.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm |
      • Uncle Albert

        Explain the origin of the Cosmos on the Quantum level.

        January 5, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
        • tallulah13

          I can easily say I don't know. However, that only means that I don't know. It does not mean that god did it. Do you have evidence that god did it? Or are you just abdicating all curiosity in favor of an easy answer?

          January 5, 2014 at 1:40 pm |
        • hee hee

          Here is a useful phrase: "I don't know".

          January 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
        • Ann

          I can't. I'm okay with that. No need to make up a myth.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Big invisible and undetectable sky wizard who cares for me, only .0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% of the universe, and who chanted magic spells for six days and can't figure out how to make a universe that doesn't go into nuclear meltdown when one woman picks a fruit made it all? Did I get it right?

          January 5, 2014 at 1:46 pm |
    • hee hee

      Hi Blake,

      We've talked before, I think. The big bang was not invented to explain the origin of the universe. It was deduced from the evidence. There are two main pieces of evidence. (1) The galaxies are all receding from each other. There are literally thousands of data points verifying this, independently by hundreds of researchers. The evidence that the universe is expanding is undeniable. (2) There is radiation emanating roughly equally from all directions in space, as a result of the explosion. This has also been observed by many astronomers independently many many times, and occurs at the wavelength that it ought to if it were caused by such an explosion. You might find the facts of the matter interesting.

      The rest of your post contains similar misconceptions about what people other than yourself believe.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:39 pm |
    • doobzz

      Of course not. A mud and fairy spit man and his identical genetic twin domestic partner populating the world is far more logical and likely. ROFLMAO!

      January 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      "It is amazing to me that people can look at all of Gods creations, the detailed identifying features that make up each person or thing and come to the conclusion that it just all happened in a " bang"."

      Your assertion that everything happened in a bang would be more accurate if rephrased: "A bang flinging all matter in the known universe outward followed by 13.82 billion years of movement, interaction, and reaction among that matter."

      The rest of your statement is baseless supposition and blind devotion to said baseless supposition.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      So what you're admitting to in public is that you're too stupid, ignorant, or unimaginative to believe anything more complicated than a 4000-year-old fairy tale, one of dozens of such stories, each of which contradicts all of the others. You are a bold person, Blake.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm |
  12. Rachel

    Atheist church = jumbo shrimp. LOL

    January 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
    • doobzz

      No. I don't think you understand what an oxymoron is. Or language in general.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
  13. ME II

    @Katie Engelhart,

    Interesting article. Thanks!!

    January 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
  14. are122

    I've a friend that is a highly commended cop. In his hiring process he demanded a particular day off to worship his Christian God. A captain responded, "what if everyone wanted a day off to do the same??!!" His response was, if everyone wanted the day off to do the same, you wouldn't need cops. The comments of how Christians are bad are really silly. Because if all Christians were true Christians they wouldn't be doing the silly things you come up with. You are making the mistake of blaming a religion for what people that are not truly following the religion do.

    January 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Good people will do good. Bad people will do bad. Religion doesn't alter that, despite the claims of believers.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
      • a reasonable atheist

        I tend to agree with Steven Weinberg on this subject:

        "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

        January 5, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      seems like you're saying the evil people do doesn't have anything to do with their religion.

      would you also say the good people do has nothing to do with their religion?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
    • Jonah Swallows

      I'm blaming the religion for being the excuse for those people that treat others with disrespect.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
    • hee hee

      Because everyone agrees on what the core values of Christianity are, and everyone agrees on those.

      Look up the "no true Scotsman" fallacy.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
    • doobzz

      Sorry, but your friend's statement is bullshit. Christians can't even agree on their own doctrine, and he thinks that somehow we'd have a utopia under Christianity?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
    • TiredofSilly1

      Christians aren't necessarily bad. They just make me nervous because if you'll believe the silly stories in the christian story book, you just have to be missing some essential logic neurons in your brain.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
  15. John P. Tarver

    Couldn't the atheists just all get together for a circle jerk instead?

    January 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Yes, exactly as christians could do.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
    • Mary

      That would be called your typical gathering at your house.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        Just take out your teeth and get back to work Mary.

        January 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
        • Mary

          Got all of my teeth, Tardo, but good to see your good Christian values showing.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:29 pm |
    • magicpanties

      Isn't that Holy Communion?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
    • hee hee

      If you're getting hot and bothered, there are some websites you could visit.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
    • ME II

      @John P. Tarver,
      Why, are looking for a new circle jerk to join?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:30 pm |
    • doobzz

      Really showing the Christian spirit today, are we? Must be all jazzed up from the weekly stroke-off at your church.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
    • TiredofSilly1

      Nah, that's what the christian youth leaders do with little boys.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
  16. Sunflower

    I wonder how many working atheists here refuse to take off on Christmas day? Just wondering..

    January 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Probably none since Christmas started long before christ or christianity when it was various pagan holidays from several cultures around the winter equinox.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        December 25 is the God of wine's birthday.

        January 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
        • Mary

          Or in your case, whine.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
    • Mary

      It's a federal holiday, idiot.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
      • Sunflower

        woman, federal or local, it is considered a religious holiday.

        January 5, 2014 at 1:27 pm |
        • Mary

          So your saying only Christians deserve the day off? Nope.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
        • RichardSRussell

          Not by the US Supreme Court, which explicitly ruled that it was a secular observance.

          I personally think they were nuts, of course, and that this was just a runup to their eventual butchery of the English language in declaring that corporations are people and money is speech, but unless and until we get either a Const¡tutional amendment or a lot of heart attacks among the black-robed set, that's the law of the land.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
        • Science Works

          Hey Sunflower

          it was not made a federal holiday until 1870 and why was it made a federal holiday ?

          January 5, 2014 at 1:37 pm |
        • doobzz

          If your business is closed because of a holiday, how would you go to work?

          By your logic, any non-African American should refuse to take off MLK day.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
    • magicpanties

      Refuse paid time off?
      No, atheists are not stupid. That's why they don't subscribe to your fantasies.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I couldn't work on Christmas day if I wanted. My place of work is closed on that day, except for one person who does a job that I am not trained to do.

      Most businesses are closed on Christmas, which makes your question rather silly.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
      • Steve

        You could start complaining to your employer that it should remain open for some type of work... But you don't .

        January 5, 2014 at 9:27 pm |
    • hee hee

      I had never considered this before. How obviously hypocritical. You, ma'am, have shaken me to the core.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:23 pm |
    • Ann

      I won't refuse to take the day off, because I enjoy other, secular, activities associated with Christmas ... visiting family, exchanging gifts, enjoying a special meal.

      I have, however, volunteered to work Christmas in order to give others the day off.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      Well, just because I don't believe in god(s) does not mean I don't think the secular traditions of christmas are worthwhile. Decorating the tree, celebrating the solstice and longer days ahead, fellowship with friends and family, the gift giving, etc.. all predate christianity and have their roots in religious traditions and cultural practices all over Europe and the Middle East. Why would I not take it off?

      January 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
  17. Uncle Albert

    What do these atheists worship ???

    Their new khakis ???

    January 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm |
    • Mary

      Pizza.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
    • magicpanties

      Worship? Why, nothing. That's the point.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
      • logan5

        Ya, they worship nothing...just like Christians

        January 5, 2014 at 2:00 pm |
    • Observer

      Uncle Albert,

      Atheists don't usually support slavery and beating children with rods like the Bible does.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
      • John P. Tarver

        The 1859 publication of Darwin's "Origin of Species" was a cause of the American Civil war, so in fact atheists do support slavery.

        January 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • Mary

          Darwin did, moron. Apparently you conflate all atheists with him.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
        • ME II

          What?!?! How do you figure that?

          January 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Oh John, you poor troll. It must be a sad, friendless life you lead.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:28 pm |
        • magicpanties

          Pppppllllleeeaaasssseee let me borrow your tinfoil.

          The world around me makes sense, but your words... I need to understand how down can be sideways, like you do.

          January 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
        • logan5

          You are sad, but funny guy!

          January 5, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
    • tallulah13

      If you are curious what is done in these "churches", you could actually read the article. It's amazing what you can learn if you actually make the effort.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
  18. hwt

    All religion is a bunch of malarkey; atheism included.

    January 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      What doctrinal beliefs do atheists share to make it a religion?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
      • a reasonable atheist

        Cue the "rule of no doctrine = doctrine" response or the false association of science with atheism followed by a gross misunderstanding of science as doctrine.

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

        The doctrine of reason and logic, the first things any religious leader demands that his followers abandon when committing to the "faith."

        January 7, 2014 at 11:33 am |
    • hee hee

      Skiing is dangerous, including not skiing.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
    • Mick

      Atheism is no more a religion than "not collecting stamps" is a hobby.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:31 pm |
  19. jim-oregon

    Atheist churches? I think it is about time that Congress wakes up and recognized that they are being duped by the atheists. They constantly fight to have all Christian and other faiths banished. But it appears that what is really going on is that they are forcing Congress to establish their religion, atheism, as the official, government sanctioned religion of the United States.

    January 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm |
    • magicpanties

      That's funny.
      Thanks.
      Now, when organized fantasy starts paying taxes...

      January 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Do you feel threatened by a small group of people meeting on the same day as churches do, jim? Really?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
  20. Travis Hill

    What a hopeless belief system this is! As a Christian whether I'm wrong or right about my faith at least I have something to look forward to. Worms and rot are the only things atheist have to prepare for and that's if they are right. If they are wrong they will be cast into hell fire. So I guess in a sense Atheist lose no matter the outcome. I encourage all Atheist to find the one religion or faith structure that really offers redemption! Christ! NO OTHER RELIGION HAS A SAVIOR!

    January 5, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
    • Mary

      Yawn.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
    • hee hee

      Pascal's wager. I believe there is something written on this.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
    • magicpanties

      Thanks for reminding us that your "loving" will god will torture me for all eternity simple because I don't declare my love for him.

      Gee, what's not to like?

      January 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Of course, your afterlife is only secure if you are worshiping the right god. You have no way of knowing that. There have been thousands of gods. The chance that you chose the right one is very slim indeed.

      I'm just glad that I'm not afraid of death. I don't have to worry about worshiping the right god in the right way.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:19 pm |
    • elec_eel

      in fact since an atheist does not believe in after life (which is not always the case but lets keep it that way), if after life is real then an atheist is getting a bonus of something he didn't anticipated anyway. by the way if my afterlife is in hell i would feel lucky, heaven seems so boring (at least this is what i get from third party participants).

      January 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm |
    • Mick

      So, Travis, your god would create people with brains capable of critical thinking -who then conclude he doesn't exist – then make himself invisible. Then he would torture these people for all eternity for the "sin" of disbelief? Hmphhh...some "saviour".

      January 5, 2014 at 1:25 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Your mistake is in thinking that atheism is a belief system. It's not. Atheists are simply people who do NOT subscribe to a PARTICULAR belief system, namely one that considers deities to be real. That's all we are. Aside from that one thing we have in common, we're all over the map on every other issue.

      January 5, 2014 at 1:27 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.