Atheist mega-churches on the rise

2013-11-11 17:38
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

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Los Angeles - It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church.

Several hundred people attended more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational sermon, a reading and some quiet reflection.

The only thing missing was God.

Nearly three dozen gatherings nicknamed "atheist mega-churches" by supporters and detractors have sprung up around the US and Australia (with more to come) after finding success in the UK earlier this year.

The movement fuelled by social media and led by two prominent British comedians is no joke.

On Sunday, the inaugural Sunday Assembly in Los Angeles attracted several hundred people bound by their belief in non-belief.

Similar gatherings in San Diego, Nashville, New York and other US cities, have drawn hundreds of atheists seeking the camaraderie of a congregation without religion or ritual.

The founders, British duo Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, are currently on a tongue-in-cheek 40 Dates, 40 Nights tour around the US and Australia to collect donations and help launch new Sunday Assemblies.

They hope to raise more than $800 000 that will help atheists launch their congregations around the world. So far, they have raised about $50 000.

They want to find a new way to meet like minded people and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith.

Jones got the idea while leaving a Christmas carol concert six years ago.

"There was so much about it that I loved, but it's a shame because at the heart of it, it's something I don't believe in," Jones said.

"If you think about church, there's very little that's bad. It's singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people, and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?"

New studies show an increasing number of Americans are drifting from any religious affiliation.

Read more on:    us  |  social networks  |  religion

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