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Sunday Assembly: An atheist church

Should non-religious co-opt communion?

By Daniel Taylor
On November 13, 2013

Atheists and non-believers everywhere finally have a church to call their own, and it's not a college campus or a university.
The Sunday Assembly describes itself as a "godless congregation," and is aiming to plant "churches" around the globe in an effort to further the gospel of atheism and non-belief.
This new movement has been growing in the U.K. and is now crossing over into the U.S.
These non-believing "mega-churches," as they are being called due to the large crowds they draw, have popped up in many major U.S. cities, most recently in Los Angeles.
Secular studies professor Phil Zuckerman said in an Associated Press article that its popularity can be attributed to how it provides a sense of community to those who were once part of another religion.
Though there is a lot controversy over classifying atheism as its own religion, it is next to impossible not to call what The Sunday Assembly is doing a religious endeavor, albeit a godless one.
Many of their goals, which are detailed on their website, are ironically very similar to what many other religions teach, such as goodness, love and helping others.
The motto of The Sunday Assembly is "Live better, help often, wonder more" - sentiments that I am sure no major religion we know of today would disagree with.
They have a list of tenets, 10 of them to exact, which lay out their beliefs, not unlike "The Ten Commandments" do for Christianity.
But whereas Christianity and other religions have a deity that unifies and inspires both the members and their beliefs, The Sunday Assembly attempts to have the same effect without the need for a god.
Or at least that is what they want you to believe.
The fact is, atheism is not simply an ideology of non-religion or non-belief, but rather a religion where man is the central focus and the self is "God."
Though most won't readily admit to it, atheists like the ones behind The Sunday Assembly have made humanity their ultimate deity by taking all of the "good" from other religions and leaving out what they consider to be the "bad."
This act of religious appropriation is why some atheists disagree with what The Sunday Assembly is doing.
Some even go as far as to condemn it.
In the aforementioned Associated Press article, self-proclaimed atheist Michael Luciano, who grew up Roman Catholic, said, "The idea that you're building an entire organization based on what you don't believe, to me, sounds like an offense against sensibility.
"There's something not OK with appropriating all of this religious language, imagery and ritual for atheism."
If what Luciano says is true, and I would tend to agree that it is, then why would so many non-believers have the desire to form what is essentially a church for atheistic non-belief?
Some proponents of "New Atheism" may argue that they can no longer tolerate religion and its influences on what they perceive to be a misled society.
Even if that is the case, I feel that there is a deeper reason behind The Sunday Assembly churches.
The desire to worship or believe in something is an inherent human trait.  
To completely deny there is a God or gods is to openly embrace nihilism and its logical end.
Most people, and I would argue most atheists, are not ready or willing to make that assumption and instead worship the only thing they think is real, themselves.
The danger here is that while ideas of love, good and helpfulness are being spread, they are being used merely as a shroud to mask the lack of foundation that produces lasting change and eternal happiness.
A life predicated on the notion that we come from and return to nothing is, at best, one of ignorant desperation.
To quote Andy Dufresne from "The Shawshank Redemption," "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

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