This week the Huffington Post reported of the first Atheist church that met in England.
According to the Islington Gazette, stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans founded the so-called godless church because they wanted a space where non-religious folks could commune and edify one another.
The Huffington Post UK explains that the church, dubbed “Sunday Assembly,” has been “championed as [a] chance for disillusioned former believers, nostalgic atheists and anybody searching for a sense of community, to meet and ‘turn good intentions into action.'”
According to the Independent, about 200 worshippers showed up to the service, held on Jan. 6. The congregation focused on the theme of “Beginnings,” deliberating over ways that success can be achieved by letting go of past failures and avoiding “mental booby traps.” Instead of a sermon, the church invited Andy Stanton, a popular children’s book author, to talk about overcoming the odds and achieving success; and instead of praying together, those gathered were encouraged at one point to close their eyes and meditate on their fears of inadequacy and failure. With Jones taking the stage as MC, the congregation was also treated to some stand-up comedy. A rendition of Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back In Anger” was even sung during the gathering. (read more)
But why? Why have a church?
Why have a congregation who listens to a speaker, sings a song, then has lunch together to discuss the days topic?
Why do people leave a church only to start another one?
Maybe it’s similar to the addage “People don’t quit because of bad jobs, they quit because of bad managers”. Think about that. This plays into my theory that people become atheist because either the church, it’s members, or it’s god has failed them some how. They feel unaccepted, lied to, deceived, or just plain ignored. The message and actions of the “manager” don’t match with the philosophy of what the person thought the organization was all about.
I’ve read blogs and articles before that say what Atheism lacks is personal community. As humans are we not social creatures seeking belonging, community, and dare I use the Christian word, “Fellowship”? So is a church community the inevitable outcome?
Or is it more than that? Is church the outcome of the “God Shaped Hole” that drives so many to seek God to begin with? Do we need answers and a church is where we go with the hopes that someone shares the same questions or can provide insight to help us find answers? If that’s the case, should Christians be glad for an atheist church to show many of life’s questions can’t be answered with science?
Therefore, is atheism doomed to the same fate as religion? After the novelty of a church service and community wears off will they experience the same issues that religious churches have? Will an Atheist Church be the demise of the growth of Atheism; eventually exposing that Atheists aren’t any different from the flawed human beings Christians are?