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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. ken meyer

    IF there is a God. I just want to call him down and say "What went wrong her"?

    January 6, 2014 at 11:52 am |
    • Responding to the Pride

      That's right...it was "her" fault!

      January 6, 2014 at 11:55 am |
  2. Live4Him

    @Ted : L4H, reply inline, you COWARD.

    I'm responding as those of the forum requested – staying on a single thread whereby a thread is defined as a discussion between two individuals and on one topic.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:38 am |
    • Doris

      L4H: "I'm responding as those of the forum requested – staying on a single thread whereby a thread is defined as a discussion between two individuals and on one topic."

      LOL – who are "those of the forum"? That's ridiculous in an environment such as this. You truly are nuts.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:44 am |
      • theridge

        Anyone who blogs on a corporate controlled cnn forum is nuts. We are all talking to a "wizard in the sky" if you will since you can't prove who is real and who is a spambot us lol!

        January 6, 2014 at 11:46 am |
        • theridge

          I'm a corporeal spambot.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:48 am |
    • Ted

      L4H, no you aren't. REPLY INLINE, YOU COWARD.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:46 am |
      • Live4Him

        @Ted : L4H, no you aren't. REPLY INLINE, YOU COWARD.

        Correct. I'm respond ON TOPIC. Atheists love to create confusion by posting lots of differing topics on a single thread. I tried to make sense of the chaos by posting any new topic to a new thread. However, the atheists complained about me 'top-posting', so I resolved to split ALL new threads out into their own separate thread. Then, there is no question if the issue gets resolved. Now, all one needs to do is to follow the discussion between the two individuals debating, while ignoring the chaff from others, to the end of the thread. But, those who desire chaos still complain. Can't make everyone happy. 🙂

        <><

        January 6, 2014 at 11:51 am |
      • All I ever see

        happening with Live4Him's new thread replies is an attempt to quote another poster out of context or misquote another poster, in some attempt to avoid a tight spot he/she was in.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • Charm Quark

          L4H
          Seems you are the only one that doesn't see yourself as a liar and coward, not ad hominem when it is true.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
    • Science Works

      L4H here is a heads up for you might help ?

      What to expect in 2014

      Nature takes a look at what is in store for science in the new year.

      Richard Van Noorden

      31 December 2013

      http://www.nature.com/news/what-to-expect-in-2014-1.14448

      January 6, 2014 at 11:47 am |
  3. No Name

    Honest atheists admit they cannot disprove God or know for sure if there is no God. Dishonest atheists admit they know there is no God Most internet atheists are dishonest.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:37 am |
    • theridge

      At least they are searching for something and not some mindless jellyfish on their iphone all day not giving their existence a 2nd thought. There is no such thing as an atheist since we all have the penial gland that is suppose to operate as a sort of spiritual antenna to the heavens. of course they are all calcified due to the fluoridated water we drink. but your sub-concious still recognizes the Creator of the universe whether your brainwashed mind admits it or not. In the end all knees will bow down to Him who IS. Unfortunately most won't admit this until it happens.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:41 am |
      • Barb

        Think you got a bit o' Pascal's Wager goin on there, theridgey. That's stupid.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:47 am |
        • theridge

          Prove me wrong Barbara! Not a soul on earth can or will since that was honest truth. I don't have all the answers, and Ill agree that religion is a control method just like government however, the truth is still there and your tongue will admit one day.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:50 am |
        • Chikkipop

          "Ill agree that religion is a control method just like government"

          So anything organized or government run is evil, but private nuttiness is just fine, says the preacher from The Ridge Church of The A-Fluoride One Truth Conspiracy Seeker!

          Or something.

          January 8, 2014 at 5:41 pm |
        • Gary

          she just did, stupid. Look it up.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:51 am |
        • theridge

          Stupid huh Gary? I wish you weren't a spambot so I could meet you in the real world and slap the cnn right out of ya

          January 6, 2014 at 11:53 am |
        • igaftr

          theridge
          No one can prove you wrong, nor right. There are an infinite number of possibilities...yours is just another one on the pile...no evidence to support it at all.

          My won't you be surprised when you face Quetzlcoatl and have been worshipping the wrong god all these years.

          Silly assertions with NOTHING to back it up...that's all you have.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:57 am |
      • Free Holiday Nuts

        LOL. (No video or additional comment needed for this one.)

        January 6, 2014 at 11:51 am |
      • igaftr

        theridge
        " penial gland that is suppose to operate as a sort of spiritual antenna to the heavens."

        You have absolutley NO data that could POSSIBLY confirm that.
        The pineal gland is the most ancient of all that we have and it was responsible for allowing us to see. There is no indication that any supernatural or spritual exists.

        Your assertions are completely baseless, and on the realm of conspiracy theory. You don't seem to understand what the pineal gland is or what it does, because your assertions have been made by many religious nutjobs, but it falls on its face since the pineal gland does not do what you claim, and there is NO verifiable corroborated evidence that it does.

        Spiritual antenae...hilarious.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:52 am |
        • theridge

          youre in denial since you cannot disprove me. It will all be revealed to you someday fluoride-breath

          January 6, 2014 at 11:54 am |
        • igaftr

          I'm not in denial...that is ridiculous...you are making an assertion as if it were truth with NOTHING to back it up. There is NOTHING in the bhuman bosy that can do anything that extends beyond our reach. Your brain is in a dark stimulousless environment...the only reason you sense anything at all is because the stimulous comes from your nerves into your brain....there is NO EVIDENCE ANYWHERE that any energy created by us can be tramsmitted out of our bodies, or received by our bodies from other...false assertion with NOTHING to back up your assertion.

          If you think you can prove it...by all means do...there is a $1,000,000 prize available, and has been available for a long time...all you need do is prove ANYTHING supernatural exist, such as "spirits" and you can have the prize...Many have tried...NONE succeed. No real scientist is pursuing the pineal gland as some sort os psychic antenae....that is a red herring...a fools errand.

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

          look up remote-viewing IGAFR. It was a declassified top-secret army program from the 50s. Crazy shizz but totally proves the spiritual world. If you can't get your mind around it try to detox the cacification out of your head due to toxic overload.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:26 pm |
        • igaftr

          yes ridge
          They made the movie up "men who stare at goats" about it
          but since NONE of the work could be independantly verified, proves nothing...no sceintific verification means they most likely falsified results or at the bare minimum , did not follow scientific protocol....just fodder for people who WANT to believe in conspiracy BS...such as you.

          I suppose the contrails from jets is the chemical spraying of america too.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
        • theridge

          yes the contrails have been declassified too. You are living in your own reality so nothing more i can say to one who denies the sky isn't blue anymore. also who did the verification on the remote-viewing. the army? that's like Eric Holder investigating himself in the fast and furious scandle....."Nope, nothing went wrong here!"

          January 6, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
      • Jesus' Beloved

        Meant to post here. @theridge: "since we all have the penial gland that is suppose to operate as a sort of spiritual antenna to the heavens."

        Hi, first time I've seen someone else associate the pineal gland to the spirit of the Lord. Right on!

        "In the candlestick the Spirit of the Lord encompasses the other six spirits and is the overall enti.ty of light. The pineal gland is described as our window to the face of God."
        God Bless.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • Ann

          This thing about the pineal gland being some spiritual antenna is a new one to me, but ... if that's the theory, sounds like that would be considered evidence that most vertebrate animals (fish, etc.) have the same "spiritual antenna" or soul as humans? Makes sense to me, but it seems to conflict with some of the other things religions say about animals.

          January 6, 2014 at 1:16 pm |
      • theridge

        igaft: existence and reality backs it up. but in the matrix we live in it is hard to find the truth. cnn or other corporate controlled "programming" will not give you the truth!

        January 6, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
        • igaftr

          conspiracy theories and baseless assertions...nothing more. You clearly do not have a grasp on reality, so good luck with your clear neurosis.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:21 pm |
        • theridge

          Hitler called folks who questioned him on a global race "conspiracy theorists" too. I just question known liars. You are gonna have quite the future ahead of you believing your corporate controlled programming son! Tell me how the gmo's are in the FEMA centers hahahahahah!

          January 6, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
      • Chikkipop

        Ooh boy!

        We got us some serious loonies here!

        January 8, 2014 at 5:32 pm |
    • Gary

      Horse with No Name, your guys have been riding you bareback too often. Risky business you are in! Take more care.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:50 am |
    • WASP

      there are a couple things incorrect with your above statement:
      1) if you bothered to study science throughly enough you would find lots of things to back up the claim of us "dishonest" atheists. one such thing would be in the field of physics.

      2) we aren't the ones making a claim of something being real, it's the theists. if i told you dragons were real, and you stated they were not i can't rightfully tell you to prove they don't exsist, now could i?
      you can't prove a negitive, however you can prove your god according to 1 KINGS VERSE 30-40. give it a try and get back to me. XD

      January 6, 2014 at 11:51 am |
      • No Name

        "I can't prove a negative". That's an excuse. You know in your heart that you can't disprove God but many atheists feel the need to make a mockery out of faith when atheism takes the greatest amount of faith. Sure you can state "I don't know" as your answer but what do you believe deep down that you aren't telling people on the surface? You can make up all the excuses you want. Atheism will NEVER be the dominant religion in the future. Want to know why? There's no proof that proves atheists are correct. Zip. Zero. Get over it or finally admit it.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • sam stone

          "Atheism will NEVER be the dominant religion in the future"

          That is because atheism is not a religion

          January 6, 2014 at 12:08 pm |
        • sam stone

          Where is the proof that theists are correct?

          January 6, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          You're the one making the claim, so you need to provide the evidence. The biblical story is not correct. No foundation for your god.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
        • WASP

          how a universe exsists without any gods in a few easy to follow steps:

          1) everything in this universe is built from atoms.
          2) atoms are built from protons,neutrons,and electrons
          3) 1st law of thermal dynamics covers how energy "protons,neutrons and electrons" can not be created nor destroyed.
          3A) 2nd law of thermal dynamics covers transferance of energy from kinetic to potential and back again. (christians favorite pro-god point; failure)
          4) if energy can not be created nor destroyed then the universe is a closed system where in energy maintains a 100% ratio.
          4A) that ratio of total energy includes every form energy can take from solid matter to the other various forms of radiation and so forth.
          5) einstein's famous equation E=MC2 shows how energy/matter conversion happens.
          5A) if matter/energy conversion takes place no energy is lost even if a blackhole "eats" matter because the blackhole spits out gamma radiation and other forms of energy,which as we should all know is the basis of everything in the universe.
          6) free floating energy will always be drawn to their opposing forces; (i.e. protons to electrons, and so forth)
          6A) the most abundant element ironically just so happens to be the simplest element to create. (hint: HYDROGEN)
          7) one atom of hydrogen will clump together with other atoms to give rise to other more complex substances as the count of protons, neutrons and electrons increase. (to observe this fact veiw your periodic table, quite simple to understand)

          any further question please feel free to ask; no god is required to create anything, hell with the proper equipment we could atomically construct anything we needed from scratch................example the food replicator from star trek.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
        • No Name

          Atheism IS a religion. Save your lies child.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
        • Chikkipop

          "How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

          Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."
          Abraham Lincoln

          January 8, 2014 at 9:43 pm |
        • No Brain

          You be right Atheism IS a religion.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
    • Ewo2

      That's a very dishonest categorization and false dichotomy. Most atheists, as far as I'm aware, admit that they can't "disprove" God, but the burden of proof is not on the person who ISN'T making a claim. The burden is on believers to prove that God DOES exist. I can claim there's an orca living in my bathtub that's controlling the weather – is it your responsibility to disprove that? No – because I'm the one making the claim, and especially because it's a remarkable, supernatural claim, it's on me to prove it's true. Atheists don't typically actively assert that there is no God – they simply posit that they don't believe in a God because it hasn't been proven to any reasonable level. That's not the same as believing there IS no God.

      January 6, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
      • No Name

        Stating there is no God IS a claim that needs backed up. "If I state there is a unicorn but I have no proof, would you still believe it exists?". You can bring up excuse you want but unicorns, Santa, the Easter Bunny or any other mythological creature, but those have NO real purpose for your life. Atheists love to bring up unicorns and all that because its an excuse. That have no effect on your life. Not believing in unicorns has NO effect on your life as much as God does. God has an effect on most internet atheists. Unicorns don't. Not believing in Santa does nothing for an atheist or anyone else. See the big difference? Those creatures or beings have no effect on atheists. They bring it up because they think it insults people but it really insults atheists the most.

        January 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
        • WASP

          what effect does your imaginary friend have on me, other than providing amusement for myself while bored at work to see his little minions go crazy when i show them how "it's all in your head".

          XD

          January 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          That's a self-referencing answer. It presumes that there is a god that takes an active interest in the universe. The point about the unicorn (or Zeus or Vishnu) is that you don't believe in them yet cannot disprove their existence. There is as much evidence for say Vishnu as there is for your god (i.e. none) yet you discount Vishnu and embrace your god.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
        • Ewo2

          I didn't say anything about unicorns, I gave an example of something that DOES have an effect – namely, the orca in my tub controlling the weather. That's pretty significant. Also, the effect something has doesn't make much of a difference as to whether something does or doesn't exist. Snails don't have much of an effect on my life but I can easily prove that they exist, and all we're debating is existence, not effect. Do you have anything substantive to offer as a response? Your last answer didn't apply.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
      • WASP

        @ewo2: i refer you to my above post. if something can't be created nor destroyed, thus energy is eternal, thus god couldn't have created anything.

        not to mention the guy either created something from nothing, or had to use what was already here which means he isn't all-power etc etc etc. 🙂

        January 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
    • sam stone

      i think a higher percentage of atheists who post online do not claim to know for certainty of their position than those who hold the opposite position. how many blog christians confuse belief and knowledge?

      January 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      You cannot disprove Vishnu. The evidence we have indicates that the creation myths are not correct, so the deities credentials are invalidated. No personal gods.

      January 6, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
      • No Name

        Atheism has no evidence thus the atheist myth is not correct.

        January 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          You're not making any sense. Atheists do not find the evidence compelling. The creation myths are disproven; they are the foundation of a religion as they are that god's credentials. No credible story. No evidence. No personal god.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
        • Chikkipop

          I propose there is a an invisible magical 3-headed dragon who guides me, and anyone else who will make the effort to "see" him.

          You have no evidence that he does not exist, thus your doubt myth is not correct.

          January 8, 2014 at 9:41 pm |
    • G to the T

      Your statement is confusing in that it references "God". Traditionally, "God" (capital "G") has been associated specifically with El/Yahweh of the bible. On that account, we can have a much higher level of confidence than we would about "god" in general.

      January 6, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
    • Chikkipop

      "Honest atheists admit they cannot disprove God or know for sure if there is no God"

      Moderately intelligent people understand they don't have to DISprove anything, especially extraordinary claims, when those making the claims have provided nothing other than their "belief" that the claim is true.

      Moderately intelligent people can understand that it makes little sense to defend an unproven claim by pointing out that it hasn't been disproven.

      Theists, however, continually ignore what moderately intelligent people are capable of understanding, & try to shift the burden to those waiting for evidence before they accept an odd claim.

      Are theists less than moderately intelligent? Certainly many are, but intelligence isn't the problem; even smart folks will go through mental contortions to rationalize beliefs which have an emotional hold on them.

      January 8, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
  4. Kingdom Men of Colorado

    Atheist church? Is that the ultimate oxymoron? Why would atheists even associate themselves with the word "church"? Truth doesnt become something else just because we want it to or we dont like it, truth is not open to our interpretation of it.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:34 am |
    • Petra

      They didn't...most don't. The author of this article made that leap.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:37 am |
    • Alias

      The truth is the author used the word church, not the groups she is reporting on.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:37 am |
    • No Name

      Because atheism is a religious cult. The desire for a church proves atheism has always been a religion while atheist believers lied and said its not!

      January 6, 2014 at 11:38 am |
      • Petra

        Sigh.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:39 am |
        • No Name

          Awwww poor baby! The truth hurts, don't it?

          January 6, 2014 at 11:44 am |
        • Petra

          Atheism isn't a religious cult any more than being bald is a religious hair color.

          When you actually speak the truth, I'll acknowledge it.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:53 am |
        • Mac

          There are atheists who treat atheism as though it were a religion. And these atheists are guilty of doing the same things we criticize religious people for doing.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
      • Chikkipop

        Yeah, sure.

        And the Jonestown tragedy proves all believers are one step from killing themselves on their leader's command!

        Most atheists I know snicker at the idea of an atheist church. (That doesn't mean they don't think it's nice to get together with like-minded people, though.)

        In any case, you're probably unaware of the amount of humor & sarcasm this small group is using.

        January 8, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
  5. Jesus' name is the WORD of God; No definition problems there!

    # 🙂

    January 6, 2014 at 11:34 am |
  6. Alias

    Jesus called out with a loud voice, Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. When he had said this, he
    breathed his last. Luke 23:46
    Jesus said, It is finished. With that, he...gave up his spirit. John 19:30

    How can anyone debate this?
    The bible is wrong, it has errors, it reports two different things, it has oopses, it dissagrees with itself, it ids flawed and unreliable.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:30 am |
    • Topher

      There's no problem with those two passages. You're grasping at straws.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:32 am |
      • Alias

        Really?
        how many times does the bible have to report the same event two different ways before a nopen minded person should start to ask questions?

        January 6, 2014 at 11:34 am |
        • Topher

          If you read two different newspaper accounts of the same football game are they going to read word for word the same? Will even direct quotes be exact? Nope.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:38 am |
        • Alias

          Are you now claiming that newspapers are the infallable word of god?

          January 6, 2014 at 11:39 am |
        • Topher

          Nope. But I am saying God allowed His inspired writers to keep their own personalities and writing styles. And just like two different reporters will have different ways of writing, that happened with the Bible authors. These two passages do nothing to corrupt infallability. The Bible is not play-by-play. Things are told out of order and one writer includes things another doesn't. Doesn't change a thing.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:48 am |
        • midwest rail

          " But I am saying God allowed His inspired writers to keep their own personalities and writing styles. "
          Where does it say that in the Bible ? And if it doesn't, how would you know that ?

          January 6, 2014 at 11:51 am |
        • Madtown

          two different reporters will have different ways of writing
          ----
          No, the author we're told is God. These are God's words, not man's. You've said this yourself. So, there shouldn't ever be any liberties in writing, because God is telling the human authors what to write.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:54 am |
        • Alias

          This isn't a question of writing style, or details.
          They reported one event factually inaccurately.
          It isn't like one reporter saying a hurricane 'slammed' assore while another said it 'roared' inland – this is like a witness said 'yes' in one paper and 'no' in another.
          At least one of them is wrong.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • Topher

          midwest rail

          "Where does it say that in the Bible ? And if it doesn't, how would you know that ?"

          Just from reading the books. You can tell there's different writers. In fact, there's something like 40 authors. For instance, we don't think Paul wrote Hebrews because the style is off from his other works. But we don't know for sure who wrote it. It's also how we know Luke also wrote Acts.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:59 am |
        • Topher

          Madtown

          "No, the author we're told is God. These are God's words, not man's. You've said this yourself. So, there shouldn't ever be any liberties in writing, because God is telling the human authors what to write."

          No, you're confusing what inspired means. What you are saying is that the books were dictated. That's what the Muslims believe. But Christian doctrine is that man wrote what God wanted them to without losing their own styles and personalities.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:03 pm |
        • Topher

          Alias

          There's nothing inaccurate here. Look at all four Gospels. You've just got a situation where one author gave you more details than the other. Jesus said both those things and then died.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
        • Madtown

          man wrote what God wanted them to without losing their own styles and personalities.
          -----
          That sounds very convenient, a nice little way to try and work around all of the contradictions. This is having the cake, and then wanting to eat it too. It's either God's word, or it's not. Once man applies his style and personality, it becomes man's word.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:20 pm |
        • Topher

          There aren't any contradictions. Not if you've studied it.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:37 pm |
        • Madtown

          Alias quotes one example above, got this entire sub-conversation rolling.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
        • Topher

          Except it's NOT a contradiction.

          January 6, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
      • Madtown

        Nope, no problem with them at all. The fact that the central figure says 2 completely different things? No problem. No inconsistencies. Good grief....

        January 6, 2014 at 11:47 am |
        • Topher

          Hey, dude. See my answer above.

          How much snow did you get?

          January 6, 2014 at 11:50 am |
        • Madtown

          Not too much additional snow lately, sitting on about 9in. Drifting around pretty good though today, stay warm!

          January 6, 2014 at 12:00 pm |
    • Live4Him

      I seem to have stumbled into the Wizard of Oz – 'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain'. Sorry, but this forum topic is on atheism, so I'll stick to the subject.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:33 am |
      • Alias

        Coward.
        Showing there are good reasons to not believe inyour god is relevant to being an atheist.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:36 am |
        • Live4Him

          @Alias : Coward. Showing there are good reasons to not believe inyour god is relevant to being an atheist.

          Is this why you want to change the subject – because you're afraid to defend your beliefs?

          <><

          January 6, 2014 at 11:40 am |
        • Alias

          I can easily defend my beliefs.
          Your bible is flawed. It is factually incorrect. It contradicts itself. It makes unrealistic claims.
          I do not accept your bible as the word of any god.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:51 am |
  7. Saraswati

    I think the problem here is that their mission and principles are too broad.

    Compare the Sunday Assembly's self description:

    http://sundayassembly.com/about/

    With the UU principles:

    http://www.uua.org/beliefs/principles/

    Or any of the many definitions provided by the American humanists:

    http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/What_is_Humanism

    Expecting a community to form when you aren't offering any real shared principles is ignoring the reality of how groups function. In particular it ignores the fact that groups define themselves in contrast to others. They are made up by beliefs, or characteristics or geography or blood ties. But the Assembly offers none of this. It may be enough for some young folks reacting to a religious upbringing, but in the UK little of that even exists as a tie. The majority of young people have now been raised in fairly secular households. They need to find more to tie themselves together or realistically I suspect those who really need community will turn to more available and easy options...at best something like Unitarianism, which does have a small UK presence, or more frighteningly to conservative Islam, which has a much stronger force. In the UK we also find far more groups of things like Anthroposophists and other non-mainstream groups. But these win membership precisely because they have something to offer, which I don't see in the Assembly literature.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:28 am |
    • Doris

      Thanks, Saraswati for that. A comparison of SA and UU has been in the back of my mind since this article came out. I'll look more into the links.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:34 am |
  8. Kurt Flora

    The article was an interesting read. What I don't understand is why is there so much attention on teaching about something you don't believe in? I don't believe Mickey Mouse is real, and all the adults I worship with don't really believe he exist, I don't have to preach sermon after sermon on the reasons why Mickey Mouse does not exist. If you don't want to believe in God, you have your reasons but do you have to have someone tell you again and again why!

    January 6, 2014 at 11:28 am |
    • Saraswati

      If you look at their website they view themselves as a celebration of life rather than primarily as atheists. This is a fine and positive goal, but it really just isn't enough to rally around. You end up with far to diverse a set of beliefs to create real community.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:30 am |
    • Check

      Kurt Flora,

      If MickeyMouseianity was trying to insert its fantasies and supersti.ons into government, public policy, education and science, I'll just bet you would have a thing or two to say about it...

      January 6, 2014 at 11:34 am |
      • Check

        * make that MickeyMouseism, since atheists are not specifically concerned with Christianity, but with theism in general... in the U.S. Christians are simply the largest purveyor of the belief.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:41 am |
  9. begood

    If being godly is what's keeping you good your a creepy cat! More have died at the hands of the religious than atheist by far.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:27 am |
    • Topher

      True, religion has killed a lot, but statistically it comes in second.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:36 am |
      • Charm Quark

        Topher
        Please quit making that stupid untrue statement, it makes you look bad.

        January 6, 2014 at 12:11 pm |
  10. TYRANNASAUR

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

    Atheist and the word Church don't go together.....Atheist don't have churches....and real atheist KNOW there is no such thing as a god....there never has been a god and there never will be a god.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:23 am |
    • AE

      I don't think I've ever met a real atheist.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:32 am |
      • JWT

        Hello AE. Now you have met one.

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

          Hi. I don't believe in you.

          January 6, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @TYRANNASAUR : real atheist KNOW there is no such thing as a god

      How can they prove their knowledge to others?

      <><

      January 6, 2014 at 11:35 am |
  11. Doc Vestibule

    These people are trying to build a community on a foundation of "summum bonum", but since definitions of what is the "greatest good" vary, such a community is likely doomed to constant in-fighting driven by competing conceptions of that good with no way to decide among them.
    What religions have to bind them that atheists lack is a concept of summum malum – something to fight against in addition to something to fight for. This "greatest evil" is personified as the Devil and while varying sects quibble over His motives and effects they do have the benefit of agreeing that it must be fought.
    It is easier to build a community based on hate and fear than it is to create on based solely on altruism.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:20 am |
  12. Alias

    Isaiah 34:7
    And the unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness.

    Even if you try to say this is actually a reference to a rhino, it is a mistranslation.
    Mistranslations are errors.

    Beleiving in the bible is less logical than rejecting it.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:17 am |
    • Topher

      How is it a mistranslation if that's what they were called?

      January 6, 2014 at 11:22 am |
    • Vic

      The exception is not the rule!

      Rejecting the Bible at all because of possible errors is an invalid excuse.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:27 am |
      • Alias

        rejecting everything in a book because it has errors would be wrong.
        However, once you show that there are multiple mistakes it only makes sense to question the conclusions.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:32 am |
        • Topher

          The errors are simple things like misspellings and copy and translation errors. The problem for you is that none of them compromise the theology and since we know they are there we can also understand the meanings. For instance the common atheist claim that you can't trust the Bible because bats aren't birds. But when we look at the original language, we see the word "owph" used here means winged creatures. So the Bible isn't saying bats are birds.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:43 am |
  13. Live4Him

    @Petra : M-W definition of Christian: (2) : a member of one of the Churches of Christ separating from the Disciples of Christ in 1906 Is this you, Live4Him?

    Nope.

    @Petra : See the danger of using incomplete definitions?

    You seem to have missed a key point in the discussion. They advanced the posit that atheism is a disbelief (rather than a belief system). The dictionary definition proven them in the wrong on this point. So, I wasn't advancing a posit, but refuting theirs.

    <><

    January 6, 2014 at 11:14 am |
    • G to the T

      "The dictionary definition" Not THE definition, A definition.

      Language is much more flexible than you give it credit for. If someone gives you a definition of what atheism means for them, that's just as valid as your definition of what it means to be a christian.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:17 am |
    • Ted

      L4H, start replying inline with the appropriate button or we'll all start reporting abuse on your posts, you COWARD.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:17 am |
    • Petra

      I didn't miss the key part of the discussion. You seem to think that all definitions of a word must apply, because M-W says so. I am showing you that it most certainly does not.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:17 am |
      • Live4Him

        @Petra : You seem to think that all definitions of a word must apply, because M-W says so. I am showing you that it most certainly does not.

        My posit is that 'all definitions of a word could apply', and thus must be treated in a debate as if they do apply (without a final arbiter available).

        <><

        January 6, 2014 at 11:21 am |
        • Petra

          Could apply to all atheists? Nope.
          Just like the M-W definitions do not apply to all Christians, else all Christians would be 3) : a member of the Christian denomination having part in the union of the United Church of Christ concluded in 1961.

          It appears as if you yourself want to be the final arbiter of what words mean.
          Again, nope.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:28 am |
        • Doris

          L4H: "all definitions of a word could apply"

          Why ignore mainstream atheism to make a point in a way that is way too generic to be of any use? If I didn't understand anything at all about atheism and read your claim about atheism being a religion, I would be missing one of the most important aspects of mainstream atheism.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:30 am |
        • Live4Him

          @Petra : It appears as if you yourself want to be the final arbiter of what words mean.

          You seem to be struggling with this issue. I falsified their posit that only one could apply.

          <><

          January 6, 2014 at 11:31 am |
        • Doris

          L4H: "I falsified their posit that only one could apply."

          LOL. (See above.)

          January 6, 2014 at 11:37 am |
        • Petra

          You seem to be the one struggling with the fact that you are wrong, and you have no way to gracefully admit that, L4H.

          And I have falsified that all definitions of Christianity must apply.

          Unless, of course, you ARE 3) : a member of the Christian denomination having part in the union of the United Church of Christ concluded in 1961
          2 : the hero in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

          Are you? No? Same thing.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:50 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      no more definitions! Please!!! It's all semantics!

      January 6, 2014 at 11:17 am |
    • Doris

      L4H: " They advanced the posit that atheism is a disbelief"

      Wrong. Here's what I wrote just a little while ago:

      Doris: "Except that Webster's in that regard (if that's all they have) is incomplete in the definition."

      See the difference, L4H? Incomplete definition the way you used it to justify your claim about atheism being a religion. So here in the space of one page (currently) you've misrepresented what I wrote. Unless you were speaking of someone else with They" of course. Regardless, your continued over-simplification of the definition of atheism is quite obvious.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:23 am |
  14. Squeezebox

    If people want to get all warm and fuzzy playing church, what's the harm? If they want to preach morals, they should decide on what morality is first. Then their definition of morality can become their dogma.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:14 am |
  15. Charlie

    What is the big deal. Didn't Dostoyevsky say something to the effect, "If there is no God then all is permissible." A schism would only be wrong if it violated a moral code. But if there is no moral code then a schism is merely the "survival of the fittest" working itself out. The strong will survive and propagate and weak will die. In fact if it will assure their success there is no moral reason for either side to reframe from acts of terror to assure that they succeed. Such acts may violate social norms and conventions, but are not inherently wrong if there is no moral absolute.

    Sort of like the decline of biodiversity. It is the survival of fittest. Earth is much less bio-diverse that at times in the past. Let the weak die and do it fast so that the strong can use the space and resources for greater good and advancement. The shrinkage of the ice caps will insure that only the strongest polar bears will survive. Only the most adaptable and aggressive life forms can survive Amazon deforestation, so let them. Let the weak religions and species die off.

    Speaking of that, why not people as well? The extermination of vast areas of over populated poor people so that the land and resources and be used so the strong will be stronger, and breed not just more but better people. Removal of the physically weak and unintelligent, while preserving the physically strong and intelligent to lead and reproduce, the physically strong and unintelligent to labor as directed (slavery has its place), and the intelligent but physically weak to manage (but they should be sterilized).

    There is no place for the silliness of atheist church in an atheistic universe. A Godless universe is ruthless, driven, compassionless and heartless. It doesn't give two fobs for a sick kitten or starving child. A conscience is a construct of past and now needless stage of evolution, reason has replaced conscience.

    The only alternative is that we are spiritual beings, living in a universe with transcendent realities and some spiritual force out their that is calling us. I think the choice is between the altar and the butcher shop.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:05 am |
    • G to the T

      "A Godless universe is ruthless, driven, compassionless and heartless." You are correct, the universe is all of those things. Thankfully we have each other to keep this little corner cozy.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:07 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      FAIL!

      January 6, 2014 at 11:09 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      given that the moral code that christianity claims is blatantly copied from a number of pre-dating civilizations, you have to admit that either their religion is the true religion and yours is a copy, or that man can create this code all on his own.

      based on my observation of the world, mankind is quite capable of morality without an imaginary sky daddy watching over them and threatening punishment.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:15 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      " A Godless universe is ruthless, driven, compassionless and heartless. " But if your God is in the world it is all those things and cruel as well.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:18 am |
    • Damocles

      Interesting.

      See, if you want to be honest with yourself, and you don't seem to want to be, you would realize that this universe does tend to be, not cold or cruel, but just *is*. Stars explode, comets and asteroids collide with planets causing all manner of destruction and some planets escape that possibility.

      In nature, with no guidance from humans, the strong survive and the weak tend to die. It happens. Do some animals try to protect their young, to nurture them? Certainly, but the majority do not. They live to produce offspring and then care not what becomes of them.

      If you believe that a deity is responsible for what we see around us then what can be said of that deity?

      January 6, 2014 at 11:18 am |
  16. Live4Him

    @truthprevails1 : Atheism defines one thing only-a disbelief in a god(s); it does not define anything else we may believe in.

    Atheism is defined as the doctrine that there is no deity.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism
    2b: the doctrine that there is no deity

    <><

    January 6, 2014 at 10:56 am |
    • Petra

      M-W definition of Christian:

      (2) : a member of one of the Churches of Christ separating from the Disciples of Christ in 1906

      Is this you, Live4Him?

      See the danger of using incomplete definitions?

      January 6, 2014 at 11:03 am |
      • Petra

        M-W, continued:
        Definition of Christian:
        2 : the hero in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress

        Is this you, L4H?

        January 6, 2014 at 11:08 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      and we are all born atheists.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:05 am |
      • Vince

        Babies neither believe nor disbelieve in these things.
        They have no opinion on them, because they are not yet capable of understanding the concepts involved, because they have not heard of the concepts, and because they have never considered or agreed to the concepts.
        It is therefore a mistake to appeal to babies one way or another regarding what the popular, natural, or default belief concerning God is.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:13 am |
    • JWT

      From M_W

      Atheist: a person who believes that God does not exist

      January 6, 2014 at 11:08 am |
      • Petra

        But according to L4H, ALL definitions MUST apply, so she MUST be 2 : the hero in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:11 am |
        • JWT

          It's pretty obvious that not all definitions of a word apply to a situation in which it is used.

          Play pool or play in the the pool.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:15 am |
        • Petra

          Exactly; try telling L4H that.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:19 am |
    • Ted

      L4H, reply inline, you COWARD.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:11 am |
  17. rhaj

    I am atheist. I think we don't need the denomination "church" to organize such a gathering.

    It is like when attending those seminar at the University : it is a gathering, starting with a socialization, tea and biscuits, then listening to a speaker on a topic.

    And we can do also a "celebration".. Just lately, my community from Madagascar get together in a ... church, but there is NO mention to God at all; maybe we thanked the host, but nothing "religious" : we just get together to celebrate the holidays, karaoking and mingling.. the kids are playing together... the youngster doing their things together...

    January 6, 2014 at 10:53 am |
    • Alias

      I agree.
      The groups in this article did not call themselves a church.
      The author added that term in, probably because they wanted thousands of comments more than they wanted to report the truth.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:07 am |
      • Petra

        Exactly. The group itself calls it an Assembly. Which, last time I checked, doesn't belong solely to churches.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:15 am |
      • rhaj

        AE said: "If I was atheist I would miss out on those things..."

        I am atheist. And I have no problem in attending Church. When things get passionate, I just look up the ceiling or down the floor. But I (can) appreciate the teachings or the rites...

        You may dislike me (or what I am doing) but... it is like.. when one of those child is talking about some imaginary friend, then, since it doesn't harm anybody, I just... look up the ceiling or down the floor...

        January 6, 2014 at 4:20 pm |
    • AE

      These sense of community is what holds my church together. We offer use of our building to different community groups (secular and other faiths). And we can also use the church as a gathering place to do things like celebrate and mourn together. But also organize and help people in need in our community. If I was atheist I would miss out on those things, because there is nothing like that happening in my community. I think it is great that atheists groups are doing things like this in other communities. I know my church would support them.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:10 am |
      • Jeb

        Keep the community, but toss "church" and the crazy Christian dogma.

        January 6, 2014 at 11:13 am |
        • AE

          We are trying to love others, like Jesus asks.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:16 am |
        • Bob

          AE, your evil Christian doctrine also instructs you to murder, torture and rape. That is hardly showing "love" and your post is misleading. Here are some examples straight from your nasty bible, both testaments:

          Numbers 31:17-18
          17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
          18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

          Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

          1 Timothy 2:11
          "Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."

          Revelation 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

          Leviticus 25
          44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
          45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
          46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

          Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

          Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

          And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

          So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

          Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
          Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
          http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

          January 6, 2014 at 11:20 am |
        • Damocles

          @AE

          Is that truly the only thing that makes you want to help your fellow human from time to time?

          January 6, 2014 at 11:23 am |
        • AE

          Bob,

          You have no idea what you are talking about. That is not what we preach. Sorry.

          Damocles,

          No. I didn't say that.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:25 am |
        • Bob

          Actually, AE, your vapid statement is demonstrably false; I quoted directly from your nasty owners' manual for your religion of horror, and you could not rebut that. All you can do is make claims that you cannot substantiate, because your claims are false. It is clearly you that does not know your own sicko doctrine.

          January 6, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        @AE
        It is unfortunate that there aren't more Christian denominations like yours.
        There are quite a number of others who refuse to work with "outsiders" even if their goal is the same.
        Those who wish to help their community should work together.
        Besides, leading by example is the best way to show the positive aspects of a community – whether religious or not. If seeking converts is a goal for a religion, they'll get more people willing to consider it if the pitch is about helping your neighbour instead of condemining this and and that from a fiery pulpit....

        January 6, 2014 at 11:31 am |
        • AE

          Yes. It is better for the community and our neighbors to work together for the good of all. Some churches hate my church because we support equal rights for g.ays.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:42 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @AE
          Reminds me of an old Onion headline:
          "Pope calls for greater understanding between Catholics and the hellbound."

          January 6, 2014 at 11:43 am |
      • rhaj

        Thank you AE: "we will meet one another..." 🙂

        January 6, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
  18. Doc Vestibule

    Sin lies only in harming others unnecessarily.
    All other "sin" is invented nonsense with "blasphemy" and "heresy" fighting it out for the ti/tle of most absurd.

    Throughout the world, the sinister ethic of the Inquisition still keeps its subconscious edge on the Christian mindset.
    This is evident in the many ways against which Atheists are discriminated.
    In Djibouti, citizens must register their religion to be married. "Atheist" is not recognized, ergo atheists cannot be legally married.
    Equatorial Guinea gives official preferential treatment to Catholics, such as exemptions from airport entry taxes.
    Eritrea recognized only 4 religions, Islam and 3 Christian denominations. To leave the country, citizens must get an exit Visa from the Office of Religious Affairs which arrests applicants on the spot for being non-religious (or for practicing an unrecognized faith).
    In Ethiopia, it is against the law to defame religion.
    In Sudan, uyou can get up to 6 months in jail and be flogged for blasphemy. Apostacy (abandoning Islam) is punishable by death.
    Zambia has mandatory Christian education in their public shcools for all students through grade 7.
    In Indonesia, persons who do not identify with one of the six official religions (Islam, Cathoilc, Protestant, Confucian, Buddhism, Hindu), including people with no religion, to experience official discrimination in the context ofcivil registration of marriages and births and other situation involving family law.
    Section 188 of the Austrian Criminal Code,called ‘Vilification of Religious Teachings’, criminalizes “Anyone who publicly disparages a person or thing that is the object of worship of a domestic church or religious society, or a doctrine".
    In Bavaria, Catholic bishops have the right to veto thenomination of a professor of theology, philosophy, pedagogy and sociology/political science at state universities if the candidate does not entertain the standpoint of the Catholic Church.
    Article 198 of the Greek Penal Code states that “1. One who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes God shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years; 2. Anyone, except as described in par.1, who displays publicly with blasphemy a lack of respect for things divine, is punished with up to 3 months in prison. ” Article 199 states that “one who publicly and maliciously and by any means blasphemes the Greek Orthodox Church or any other religion tolerable in Greece shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than two years.”
    In Italy, blasphemy is considered as an "administrative offense" and punished with a fine. Administrative law requires that all classrooms in state schools display crucifixes.
    The Church of England (C of E) is granted privileged access to the British Parliament. The 26 most senior C of E Bishops are automatically granted membership in the House of Lords – the upper chamber of Parliament – where they have the right to speak and vote on all legislation. They are unaccountable to the public.
    When applying for a Pakistani passport, applicants must state their religion. “No Religion” is not accepted as an answer.
    At least seven states–Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas–have in place const.itutional provisions that bar atheists from holding public office. One state (Arkansas) even has a law that bars an atheist from testifying as a witness at a trial.

    Atheists groups trying to reduce the negative stigma attached to the term are fighting an uphill battle against an elitist mentality that has been ingrained for millenia. The smug sense of spiritual superiority that pervades many religionauts' thinking means that any attempt at doing good from non-believers is dismissed as superficial, insincere, futile and/or heretical.

    January 6, 2014 at 10:45 am |
    • Kev

      So what "sins" fall outside the realm of hurting others unnecessarily?

      January 6, 2014 at 10:55 am |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Do you mean Biblical "sins" that fail to meet that standard?
        The first 3 of the 10 commandments come to mind.
        Most of the rules in Leviticus and Exodus, heresy, blasphemy, apostacy, etc.

        January 6, 2014 at 10:59 am |
        • Kev

          So you are referring to the sins that appear to be just against God?

          January 6, 2014 at 11:14 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Kev
          I gave you my definition of "sin".
          I have given you some examples of concepts popularly considered "sin" that don't fall into my definition.

          What is YOUR defnition of sin?

          January 6, 2014 at 11:22 am |
        • Kev

          My definition of sin is only a religious definition, which is to knowingly and willingly violate what one believes to be a commandment that came from God.

          January 6, 2014 at 11:31 am |
  19. Patrick

    The risk of atheism is not that you believe in nothing, but that you'll believe in anything.

    January 6, 2014 at 10:43 am |
    • truthprevails1

      Atheism defines one thing only-a disbelief in a god(s); it does not define anything else we may believe in.

      January 6, 2014 at 10:50 am |
    • In Santa we trust

      Next you'll tell us that believing in something based upon myths that have been disproven is not being gullible.

      January 6, 2014 at 10:50 am |
      • Dyslexic doG

        LOL

        January 6, 2014 at 11:02 am |
    • Madtown

      but that you'll believe in anything
      ----
      Hilarious irony alert.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:11 am |
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About this blog

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.