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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. Liberal National Party USA

    The Unitarian Church covers all the bases.

    January 5, 2014 at 11:48 pm |
  2. Chuck

    God what a bunch of irritating people

    They wrote the Bill of Rights because of people like this

    January 5, 2014 at 11:37 pm |
    • Billy

      True. OK enough about the Christian fundamentalists. What do you think about these atheist churches?

      January 5, 2014 at 11:45 pm |
  3. Tiffany

    Do they also annoy the crap out of people by trying to convert them and asking them to attend services?

    January 5, 2014 at 11:34 pm |
    • Neo Atheist

      How about when you're told you're going to hell because you don't believe in "THEIR VERSION OF GOD" and that all others are wrong.

      January 6, 2014 at 12:18 am |
  4. jimd

    Ha ha ha. That was a funny read.

    January 5, 2014 at 11:34 pm |
  5. Truth

    Silly humans. Your station in the Universe is ultimately a small hole on a dying planetary rock.

    January 5, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
    • Thoth

      (shhhh! you'll scare the ones with deities who think they'll still live after they die)

      January 6, 2014 at 12:37 am |
  6. Peteyroo

    Atheism is not a religion anymore than bald is a hair color.

    January 5, 2014 at 11:19 pm |
  7. Ellis

    I find evangelical atheism an attractive alternative to expose deseptive Biblical foundatations of belief. For example the anti Christ glorification of suffering and death as well the countless crimes of the history of the church. In this way we can judge for ourselves to keep what is universally benificial and reject the indictment against God set forth in the Bible beginning with original sin and the false justifications for genocide when God spoke to Joshua saying go into the city and kill everything that breaths.

    January 5, 2014 at 11:19 pm |
  8. columbus

    I would ask why an atheist would have a need to meet for the purpose of refuting religion? If one is certain there is no God or afterlife or alternate existences, then the believers of faith are hopelessly wrong and are living a fools dream. What, then, is the point to meet and affirm their folly? It would seem to me an intelligent atheist would only concern themself with the here and now and not waste their efforts to challenge archaic beliefs.

    January 5, 2014 at 11:19 pm |
    • Observer

      Columbus,

      If Christians actually FOLLOWED their religion and didn't try to FORCE their beliefs on others and use their religion as an EXCUSE to deny others equal rights, you would be right.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:21 pm |
    • Michael

      We would be happy to do just that if theists stopped trying to legislate or otherwise impose their archaic beliefs upon the community.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:26 pm |
    • Satan

      @columbus This is an excellent post. One of the obvious indications of the weakness of religious belief is the need of believers to re-indoctrinate themselves on a weekly basis. I get the impression that this atheist church is a scam.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:44 pm |
  9. Peteyroo

    Churches are Christian. Mosques are Moslem. Synagogues are Jewish, etc. Atheists cannot have churches by definition.

    January 5, 2014 at 11:17 pm |
    • Keith Grove

      Here we go again, the wardens of the asylums who control the thoughts of their lame brained inmates now want to tell the enlightened what they can and cannot call their places of assembly.
      Is there no end to the insanity of the religious industry, hopefully not because the more they try to control things the greater will be their eventual catastrophic destruction.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:27 pm |
  10. NorthVanCan

    Atheism and Global Warming are not complicated subjects , yet many people simply choose not to understand them.
    Weird .

    January 5, 2014 at 11:17 pm |
    • Thoth

      Great post, how true!

      January 6, 2014 at 12:38 am |
  11. leoudtohan

    atheists have a religion, their god is godless 🙂 just like pagans, they don't need a church to celebrate. they are free to do, they're free thinkers, etc.. why establish a church or gather other members? for what? for donations?

    January 5, 2014 at 11:12 pm |
    • Keith Grove

      Hold on there, by definition religion is godless, you see there is no god, the lame brained sheep are just delusional.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Most Pagans I know are decidedly NOT godless. In fact most of them have multiple gods.

      January 6, 2014 at 10:50 am |
  12. Oreste Ona

    I just have this question: Has any atheist done any good in this world in the name o atheism? Show me one

    January 5, 2014 at 11:10 pm |
    • Ralph

      Why must someone do good in this world in the name of something?

      January 5, 2014 at 11:14 pm |
    • Dandintac

      Just when I was about to sign off for the night.

      You are correct. No atheist has ever done anything good in the name of atheism. No atheist has ever done anything bad in the name of atheism either. Neither good nor bad. That is because atheism is content-free. There are no doctrines or dogmas, no list of things you must believe, no priests or holy books filled with myths. Atheism is just a label we use for people who don't believe in god–that's it. If we do good or bad, it's for reasons other than not believing in gods.

      To put it into perspective, consider a minor rephrasing of your question. "Has any a-faireyest (non-believer in fairies) ever done any good in this world in the name o a-faireyism"?

      Hope this helps. Thanks

      January 5, 2014 at 11:17 pm |
      • Peteyroo

        D'accord.

        January 5, 2014 at 11:21 pm |
      • l33ter

        So other than meet to get a wikipedia lesson on the history of physics and buy Sunday Swag why do atheists meet and call it church?

        Do they promise not to pray for people too?

        January 6, 2014 at 12:17 am |
        • myweightinwords

          Perhaps to meet with like-minded community? Perhaps for moral support during hard times? Perhaps to do charity work?

          There are any number of reasons to gather together once a week.

          January 6, 2014 at 10:51 am |
        • Dandintac

          Why do they call it a church? Might be something to do with tax status. It might also be trying to bring the concept of a forum for meeting and greeting, social networking, a forum for weddings and funerals, a coming together of friends sharing social values. Churches have a community function–in theory, they are primarily a gathering to worship a god. In practice over the centuries, they have learned to be a lot more than that to help keep the flock interested and engaged with each other.

          January 11, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
      • eprobono

        Thanks for crafting that response, Dandintac. When I read Oreste's statement I felt like I had to respond but then your statement said just about everything I wanted to say.

        January 6, 2014 at 12:28 am |
    • Observer

      Oreste Ona,

      So are you saying no atheist ever did anything good? Why does someone have to do good "in the name of" anything? Can't they just do it because it is right?

      January 5, 2014 at 11:23 pm |
    • Keith Grove

      can you answer this, can anyone show that any good that has come from religion is greater than the blood soaked history of the millenia of religious war, murder, slaughter, intolerance, lies etc etc etc.
      I think not.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:33 pm |
      • l33ter

        Keith,

        Here are a just a couple:

        Martin Luther King, an evangelical pastor who ushered in Civil Rights and made this country better while paving the way for others. Mother Teresa who ministered to thousands of sick and impoverished people and countless other religious nuts that did things for women's suffrage and homeless orphans.

        January 6, 2014 at 12:22 am |
        • Nigels

          l33ter,

          And why did they NEED God or a religion to do those things? Intertwining the two is mistaking correlation for causation. MLK Jr. could just have easily have been an atheist and worked to usher in Civil Rights. Mother Theresa did not need God to help starving children.

          Likewise, scientists around the world did not need a God to invent the modern "miracles" we all take for granted. Selman Waxman didn't need a God to discover a cure for Tuberculosis, saving uncounted MILLIONS of people.

          Saying that people do good things "in the name of _____" and claiming that the act was dependent on X religion is a ridiculous idea. Whether or not you need an extrinsic motivator is none of my business. What counts is that you, the PERSON, the physical flesh and blood on this earth did something good.

          I'm completely Agnostic, and I'm also completely fine with organized religion as long as it doesn't bother me or impede my way.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:32 am |
        • l33ter

          Nigels,

          You mean to say that religious beliefs or faith have never motivated people to do good? You mean to tell me that people never become better persons or do anything because of religion? Read what you wrote and apply it to every religious person in every instance. You just spoke for every last one of them. Have you even read or listened to anything these nuts like MLK have said or wrote? Do you just censor what you don't want to acknowledge when they mention God or faith?

          You are simply desperate to dismiss religion as useless.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:43 am |
        • l33ter

          Nigels,

          When have religious folk ever got in your way? When they ASKed you to got to church because they were concerned about your spiritual well-being? You must live in in one of those countries where they beat you senseless to church. Most of your neighbors probably don't even know you but these religious nuts have the gall to take time out of their weekend and knock on your door. I tell you what – They are the WORST people in the world.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:46 am |
        • Observer

          l33ter,

          Religious people "get in the way" when they try to FORCE their religion on people, in schools, in government buildings, etc. and when they hypocritically use their religion to deny others their rights.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:50 am |
        • l33ter

          Observer,

          Last I attended, there was no religion in public school. Just my un-evolved classmates hanging from the rafters. I do remember though when they had prayer and golden rules, we were not killing and mugging each other either. Hypocritical people are everywhere. Especially in the political realm, not just religious. Religious freedom and freedom of religion is still alive in this country. I see no inequity. You can tell a religious person no thank you just as you would the vacuum cleaner salesman.

          January 6, 2014 at 1:06 am |
        • l33ter

          Observer,

          Churches, mosques, temples, are not for profit. Should we close all non-taxpaying not for profits?

          Also, the people that attend the church or temple pay the bills for the site. The church or temple is not a form of welfare collection and does not present a burden to the taxpayer.

          Like I said, to be fair we will vote on closing all not-for-profits.

          January 6, 2014 at 1:11 am |
        • Observer

          l33ter,

          "I do remember though when they had prayer and golden rules, we were not killing and mugging each other either"

          Are you SERIOUSLY going to blame increases in killings and muggings on not have the 10 Commandments in schools?

          The church or temple is not a form of welfare collection and does not present a burden to the taxpayer. "

          False. We ALL have to pay the taxes that churches and temples DO NOT PAY.

          January 6, 2014 at 1:19 am |
        • l33ter

          Observer,

          I don't blame high crime rates on a lack of 10 commandments. My personal opinion, this country gave up on fatherhood along time ago. I think standards have gone down or disappeared. Nobody is teaching standards, just rules.

          As far as the taxes, you pointed out the church and temples don't pay because they are not for profit. What is the point? Should they while non-religious not for profits don't?

          January 6, 2014 at 1:24 am |
        • Observer

          l33ter,

          My point is that while Christians are patting themselves on the back for all the charity work they do and trashing atheists and agnostics for supposedly not doing that, the Christians always IGNORE mentioning that the money they are spending was PARTIALLY supported by the additional taxes paid by atheists and agnostics.

          January 6, 2014 at 1:28 am |
        • l33ter

          Why ANY charity would spend their own money on community and then be taxed is beyond me. Likewise, why do ANY charities have to acknowledge that by not paying taxes they are a burden while performing community service on a regular basis that you and I do not normally do? Do the richest people in the country do that for you?

          I hope ALL community minded charities pat themselves on their backs. Beyond the money issue they give their TIME which is what they sacrifice from things and people they love so to benefit strangers. Not to mention their own non-monetary resources. Beyond scraping dead skin off burnt babies and pulling beaten kids and drunks out of gutters, things you and I may not have the stomach for, I won't ask anything else. They've done enough and if anyone derives a break they ALL do.

          As far as your meanie Christians, I'm sure there are a million more that would thank you if they had an opportunity. I don't see you in a church/synagog/temple/mosque anytime soon.

          January 6, 2014 at 1:42 am |
        • Observer

          l33ter,

          "I don't see you in a church/synagog/temple/mosque anytime soon.'

          Right. My morals find that a book that supports slavery, discrimination against women, gays, and the handicapped, and the beating of helpless children under the excuse of "discipline" is IMMORAL.

          January 6, 2014 at 1:48 am |
        • Observer

          l33ter,

          Why should my taxes help pay for a church to send people to a foreign nation to try to brainwash natives into joining their religion?

          January 6, 2014 at 1:51 am |
        • l33ter

          Observer,

          I was merely pointing out that no thanks will be given without contact with you.

          Anyway, you've changed the topic. It's late here. Interesting chat. Keep your chin up, chest out, have a great day/evening.

          You are still my favorite. We'll debate over a cup of joe sometime.

          Till then.....

          January 6, 2014 at 1:56 am |
        • Observer

          l33ter,

          Thanks. Good night. I was bailing out, too.

          January 6, 2014 at 1:57 am |
      • l33ter

        There is a local church down the road. They cleaned up my junkie neighbors when secular intervention programs couldn't. They also do stupid things like run a food pantry where total strangers can pick up food for their families – no questions asked.

        You just don't want to see any good out of religious folk. If you could just get rid of them all the world would be a better place – according to Keith Grove.

        January 6, 2014 at 12:52 am |
        • Observer

          l33ter,

          Yes, church charities do a lot of good. It helps them that atheists, agnostics and other nonbelievers help pay the taxes that the churches don't pay.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:55 am |
        • Anon

          good happens from religious folk, but it doesn't require religion to do so. i'd work with a church that wanted to do things like that, even if they need a fairy in the sky.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:58 am |
    • Snafu

      Me.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:42 pm |
    • WolfSoul

      When an atheist does good, it's in the name of goodness, and generally for no more reward than the positive feeling of doing something good and helping someone or something out. We don't do it out of fear of not getting into heaven, or fear of going to hell, or fear of any other kind of retribution. We don't do it because someone tells is it's right. We do it because it IS right. Good for goodness' sake. There's nothing better, or at least certainly nothing better done in the name of any god.

      So let me ask you this . . . How many wars have been waged in the name of atheism? How many in the name of {insert name of god here}? Any honest response will show virtually none "in the name of atheism" (even if the warring parties were atheist, they weren't at war because of atheism) and a massive number of wars waged in the name of various religions or for various religious reasons.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:42 pm |
      • Commi

        Every communist country has a war on its citizens in the name of atheism. I personally was the victim of it. Read your history you spoiled, overprotected brats.

        January 6, 2014 at 12:12 am |
        • Observer

          Commi

          "Every communist country has a war on its citizens in the name of atheism."

          It's in the name of COMMUNISM.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:22 am |
        • Dave Green

          That's silly. I don't recall Stalin or Mao ever claiming.."We're going to purge the world of theists in the name of atheism." or anything even remotely related. It's no more reasonable than saying America invaded Iraq in the name of Christianity. Both claims would be equally as absurd.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:27 am |
      • lotus66

        The religious are not afraid of hell.

        They are afraid that you are going to hell and that is why they're always in your chili.

        January 6, 2014 at 12:29 am |
      • lotus66

        So the religious bloggers here are responsible for the holy wars and crusades? Is that your basis for dismissing all accounts of God? Do you know what a fallacy is? Or perhaps prejudice? Maybe even stereotyping?

        Religion is responsible for war so all religious are .....?

        January 6, 2014 at 12:33 am |
    • Big Ben

      No, and once gone they are forgotten forever.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:51 pm |
      • Ralph

        Being recognized by others for your good deeds is not the same as waving a flag around in attempts to gain recognition.

        January 6, 2014 at 12:05 am |
    • Chikkipop

      Why would anyone do anything in the name of atheism!?

      Now, as for atheists who have done great things, the list is long.

      January 6, 2014 at 10:35 am |
  13. NorthVanCan

    Atheism and Global Warming are misunderstood by many people .
    Maybe they would rather not understand.

    January 5, 2014 at 11:06 pm |
  14. Ray

    Hell is "to be without God." Atheism (the condition of being without God) is just a sneak preview of Hell.

    January 5, 2014 at 11:04 pm |
    • Anthony Crispino

      You're telling me. My wife's groin doctor knows a fella that saw the devil himself walking around over in Elizabeth in broad daylight. He can also change himself into something else at any minute. Check this out:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JuSfRgh0Vo

      January 5, 2014 at 11:18 pm |
    • HalS

      Are you going to heaven, Ray? If that's a yes, then I'm definitely going in the opposite direction – if it really does exist! Who in their right mind would want to spend an eternity with your kind? It's bad enough we put up with you when we're alive, far less when we're dead. So thank you for the advice...

      January 6, 2014 at 2:01 am |
    • Chikkipop

      "Atheism (the condition of being without God) is just a sneak preview of Hell."

      Let's see: intellectually honest, not easily fooled, willing to accept what the evidence shows........ I think I'm gonna like that place!

      Of course, everyone is without a god, so I guess we're all headed there. Hmmmm....sounds like where we already are.

      January 6, 2014 at 10:32 am |
  15. Patrick Pouncey

    Atheist Church = oxymoron

    January 5, 2014 at 11:04 pm |
  16. caesarbc

    If you actually embed yourself in the church culture like an anthropologist then you will conclude the people are ultimately good.

    January 5, 2014 at 11:03 pm |
  17. sublimeshrub

    One of the number of Baptist churches in our town split over the color of the carpet in the sanctuary. This is nothing but CNN trying to fill it's 24 hour news cycle.

    January 5, 2014 at 10:58 pm |
    • Ralph

      I know. If it's not that standard burgundy, then boom, some folks are outta there!

      January 5, 2014 at 11:01 pm |
  18. caesarbc

    If surrounding yourself with people of like kind was the central tenant against traditional churches, I do not see how reproducing it as "atheism" undermines traditional church(?).

    January 5, 2014 at 10:58 pm |
  19. Richard Daly

    As I peruse the gibberish in this blog, I realize the difference between thinkers & non- thinkers.
    Educated vs uneducated. Religious vs non-religious, Subject matter vs who can I insult?
    I came up with a random survey based on 150 Post's regarding the atheist subject.
    1. Thinkers: 20%
    Non-Thinkers: 80%

    2. Educated: 05%
    Un-Educated: 95%

    3. Religious: 98%
    Non-Religious: 94%

    4. Subject matter: 20%
    Who can I insult : 90%

    January 5, 2014 at 10:53 pm |
    • Ralph

      Your figures show you're an idiot!
      Everyone knows your figure for "Who can I insult : 90%" is way too low fool!

      January 5, 2014 at 10:59 pm |
    • caesarbc

      What was the mean ans std dev?

      January 5, 2014 at 11:01 pm |
    • Maggie Daly

      Your numbers don't add up, and your post is absurd. You must be one of the 95% uneducated.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:22 pm |
  20. WTH

    As an atheist this bothers me.

    We do not need a church. We do not need dogma or any hierarchy.

    Leave churches to the ignorant and frightened.

    January 5, 2014 at 10:44 pm |
    • especially

      in this day and age of internet meetings for a specific goal.

      January 5, 2014 at 10:46 pm |
      • although

        for people who like to sing. well maybe American Idol could pick up the slack there and have a separate atheist singing contest...

        January 5, 2014 at 10:49 pm |
    • leoudtohan

      exactly! just like pagans, atheists don't need a church..for what? donations like in other religions.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:10 pm |
    • J G

      This is just an effort by a few to monetarily capitalize on the growing atheist/agnostic belief. Same as it ever was with regard to people trying to profit off of a particular belief.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:10 pm |
      • Chikkipop

        You don't know they're doing it for money!

        In fact, I'd guess they're doing it because they think it's a good thing for like-minded people to get together.

        Atheists already do this without churches, which is why this effort will fail. We don't need churches.

        January 6, 2014 at 10:39 am |
    • Satan

      It's a scam, works every time just ask Joseph Smith. But in the end you get killed by an angry mob.

      January 5, 2014 at 11:56 pm |
      • HalS

        You should add Jesus to your list.

        January 6, 2014 at 2:09 am |
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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.