Atheist Churches Are On the Rise in the U.S.

    November 11, 2013
    Erika Watts
    Comments are off for this post.

A new type of church is springing up these days, but these aren’t your run of the mill churches. Sure, you’ve got people congregating on Sunday morning as well as participating in a lot of other things that are part of your average Christian church service. However, these new churches that are popping up aren’t worshiping Jesus Christ, nor do they care about any other religion, as these are atheist churches.

This probably sounds like a joke; after all, you don’t often hear “atheist” and “church” put together. So far, these atheist mega-churches have popped up throughout the U.S. in California, Tennessee and New York. The people who attend essentially want a lot of the things a traditional church offers, but without the religion. The people who attend enjoy each other’s company, music, come up with ideas to serve the community and more. And like traditional churches, the atheist churches take up money.

Sixteen percent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, but it looks like they could have a place to bond with like-minded people soon. This group of churches that are popping up are part of The Sunday Assembly, which was founded by Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans.

Jones reportedly got the idea to start The Sunday Assembly a few years ago after attending a Christmas concert. “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?”

Jones and Evans are working to raise money to found more Sunday Assemblies. Their goal is to raise close to $1 million to help other atheists start their own churches around the world. According to their website, they want to see “a godless congregation in every town, city and village that wants one.”

While a lot of people might assume these atheists churches are trying to stir up trouble, Elijah Senn (no, this name isn’t a joke, either) says that isn’t the case.

“I think the image that we have put forward in a lot of ways has been a scary, mean, we want to tear down the walls, we want to do destructive things kind of image is what a lot of people have of us,” Senn said. “I’m really excited to be able to come together and show that it’s not about destruction. It’s about making things and making things better.”

What do you think of the new atheist mega-churches? Add your comments below.

[Image via YouTube]
  • Cynthia S.

    I think that Atheist churches are an oxymoron, first of all. Secondly, they really are ‘unnecessary’. The purpose of going to church, while worship is a function of being ‘in church’, most people go to a church to be surrounded by other people of a ‘like-mind’. Most religions are concerned with taking care of other people. If you look at the Christian Church, the church revolves around the teachings of a man called Jesus. What did he say? Take care of the poor, the sick, and the defenseless. Take care of the weak. Even if you don’t believe in God, there’s nothing he’s said that would be offensive. We’ve discovered that ‘most’ social animals, do exactly that, simply for the sake of self-preservation. He believed so strongly in his convictions, he died for them. Is that something to be embarrassed about, or ashamed of? Even if you didn’t believe in his resurrection, is there anything he did that you might consider ‘wrong’, or ‘evil’? No, of course not.

    I think that the rise of the Atheist ‘church’ is simply a fad, an attempt by some people to get away from the historical wrong-doings of the church. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes “Wherever you go, there ‘you’ are.” We humans take all our sins with us. Another saying, “Where lambs gather, so do the wolves.” Atheists will find this out, too. You can’t run away from evil. The devil quotes scriptures, too.

    • Bill Stevens

      The Catholic Church teaches against using condoms. People in the poorest countries & in the U.S. are having babies that they can’t possibly take care of properly. That’s not what religion should be teaching. God doesn’t want kids to starve to death, does He?

      • Linda Plante

        The Catholic Church also teaches that sex is for procreation, not for fun, and to wait til you are married,so maybe more people need to keep it in their pants. How do you have energy for sex when your starving?
        If you can’t afford kids, don’t have sex!!!

        Another hypocrisy!!!

        • Scott Anderson

          Mu wife and I probably couldn’t afford another kid. Should we not have sex?

      • sharon

        gee what ever happened to all american “restraint”,which i wish the teens would embrace, but never will that happen…especially if something like “miley cyrus” is allowed into their brains!

  • Mark

    There is no such thing as an athiest church. Its called a community center.

    • Crystal

      This is EXACTLY my thought too when reading this article. Why don’t they just call them community centers? That’s all they are.

      • Richard

        Why don’t they call it what it is the house of satan?

        • who cares


  • Yep

    I have mixed feelings about this. I totally believe in God and Christ. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there is a God and this universe was created by intelligent design. I also have no doubt that Christ was right about everything. Forgive, give mercy, love, seek peace, do not judge, do not cause others harm, do not deceive others and show compassion. Christ is 100% right about everything.

    However, I cannot bash these atheists because frankly, Christians in this nation are not doing what Christ said to do and many are blatant hypocrites. I live in the Bible Belt. Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama. These state are awful and they incarcerate more people than you can imagine. Georgia arrests and incarcerates more people than any other place in the history of the world — literally. (This is not a made up fact. Search the Atlanta Journal Constitution and look at their prison statistics.) In fact, Georgia arrests/incarcerates at a rate of 2.5 times the average state in the country. Their sentences are obscene and they operate 23 prison work plants and require all state agencies to buy from them. Money is made hand over fist due to the suffering and labor of prisoners. Georgia has always done this. Slavery just moved to the prisons. Georgia is a state totally devoid of conscious. They know nothing of mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. The funny thing is that the forget that Christ himself was a prisoner and a convict. They forget that the first person he sent to heaven was a convict. It is all so hypocritical.

    People see the hypocrisy in the Christian faith and these types of atheist churches are going to do nothing but grow. I know many people that do not even want to step foot in a church because of the hypocrisy and judgment. As long as the Christian faith clings to the harshness of the Old Testament, they will lose people. To me, that is crazy because Christ had to come again because the people were cruel and lost their way because of the way they followed the Old Testament.

    This to me is sad because Christ really is right about everything. But if we are going to follow Christ — we must follow Christ and not give what he said lip service. We can’t speak about forgiveness and lock away people in the hell of prison for decades. We can’t be hypocrites. If Christians don’t want atheism to spread, they have to really start doing what Christ said. Instead of condemning and scaring the hell out of everyone, they have to love, not judge, show mercy, and give compassion. I assure people that the merit of Christ can stand alone. You don’t have to scare people into following Christ. Life will be the ultimate lesson on just how right Christ is.

    • Chase Sheridan

      It is very, very rare that I agree with a religiously toned Christian’s comment, but your assessment of the article and the Christian religions in general is excellent and I voted it up.

  • http://www.bowsbymaude.com maude

    I think I would rather just spend my Sunday tending to my rose garden and playing with my dog..

    • screwyou

      Then go ahead, nobody is stopping you. Just remember, when you’re wearing your comfy shoes and playing with your dog — that brown stuff that comes out of your dog pretty much sums up your self worth. mm hmm mmm comfy….

  • ann tuin

    “but without religion”, They are creating their own religion. To each is own.

    • Dee

      Or Cult. It just proves a human has to belong to some kind of group or it can’t function.

    • http://yahoo Robert

      In the words of the great Neil Peart, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”

  • bobcobb333

    The Cath. Church teaches people NOT to use condoms. The people in the poorest countries & in the US are having kids that they can’t take care of properly. God doesn’t wish kids to starve to death, does He? That’s not Godly.

    • @bob

      Technically you are right, but you are oversimplifying what the Church teaches. Essentially you want to attack the Catholic church even though it does far more good than bad in the world. Hospitals, schools, charity outreaches.

      People in the poorest countries can’t afford food let alone condoms. War and government corruption has stopped any sort of economic development. There are many reasons why people are starving and it isn’t because God wants it. The reality is that there is more than enough resources on this planet to feed and house everyone. God gave us everything we need. We just have greedy people in this world. Look at how much we spend on war. It is staggering. If we took all that money and funneled it back into taking care of people, this world would be a utopia.

      The least of the world’s problems is the Catholic church saying to not use condoms. You are only fooling yourself if you think it is. It is greed and lust for power and money. The same things it has been throughout history.

      • Allan

        And who has been behind much of the greed and lust for power and money throughout history? The Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican is the wealthiest independent nation in the world. Popes, cardinals, and bishops have been consolidating their power for centuries.

    • mel

      It is the goverment making kids starve,,,they say we will provide for you and your children so they keep having them. But it is not enough and Jesus can pull them out of poverty!!!! Give and much more will be givin to you, You need a new car start driving children to church on Sunday. God will make away for you to drive a reliable car!!!! Need more money give to the needy and God will give you more to help more people. Thank YOU JESUS for YOUR WORD

  • bonnie

    those who have turned there back on god have only to pay when the time comes they need to think what they are doing

  • Stuart A

    Isn’t Atheist and church an oxymoron? I mean, if you don’t believe in God, why must you go to “church”? And if you want to call your assemble a ‘church’, what do you do when you get there? Do you sing to your god? Wait! You don’t believe in God. Do you pray? Wait! Pray to whom? You don’t believe in God. So, if you don’t believe in God, why must you call your assembly a ‘church’? It just proves the invalidity of your argument.

  • http://N/A carl

    If you go to church and don’t worship any God, just exactly why do you go to church? Do you go to church to play a game? Do you go to church to watch movies? Do you go to church to get some shut eye? So, you believe the universe was created by accident and we are all here on planet earth through the accidental formation of planets by the big bang. Life came from one single cell from the ocean and multiplied into complex cells of life. So, here we are after millions of ions doing what humans do on planet earth. Mathematically, even the scientist believe in some sort of intelligence created earth. Maybe you believe in aliens? That’s it, aliens brought us here.

  • http://www.juicingjuice.com Michelle Nash

    Its all fine and good to get together and promote living for today and “no religion” like John Lennon said. However, to call it any sort of “church” is ridiculous, though I don’t think that is what they call themselves. Its just a bunch of people who are against organized religion organizing to worship life. Kind of ironic really. Also, it would be a terrific way to make money!

  • http://yahoo Bigdawg

    You see who they are?

  • Paul Coffman

    I find it interesting to try and get inside the mind of an atheist and understand their logic. If you show them a book that teaches that the earth and all it contains was created by a super intelligent being, we call Him God, they will laugh and say nonsense, it couldn’t happen. However, if you show them a book that teaches that the earth and all it contains happened entirely by accident, through trial and error, without benefit of intelligent reasoning, they say, oh sure, I believe that. They believe that all the laws of the universe just happened, that the human eye just happened, that the brain just happened. No big deal. However, a super intelligence, far beyond their capacity to comprehend, is unbelievable. Amazing!!

  • georgiacindi

    They are going for the tax exempt status, that’s why they call themselves a church.

  • Jessica Heart

    Okay, to me it is just another cult like sciencetology is. Plus, just because the catholic church made a theological mistake in your eyes telling people not to use condems doesn’t mean having sex out of marriage would be right anyways. Because it can cause emotional, psychological, and psychical problems later on. All the bashing on women that the athetist culture does and that some of the christian culture does when a man divorces his family or committs adultry isn’t right. It is sad women of the Millennial generation, can’t stop being rivals and can’t be friends.

    I also think that alot of your comments are ignorance of the church, yes the crusades were stupid, but they were also a political land grab and inquisiton was there to control politics in europe as well as occult religions that re-sprung during the middle ages.

    Nothing beats the original church, the church of our lord, Jesus Christ, reguardless of the denomination.

  • cinderellacastle

    That’s not a church, it’s a party hall.

  • Jimmy Dickinson

    The thing that is so dumb and pointless about Atheist;”Why are people who do not believe in God or Jesus Christ for that matter find it a hard core need to make a covenant church against a thing or being they do not even believe in?” I can punch and rebel against my own shadow all day but it ain’t going no where.

  • Jimmy Dickinson

    My point about the term “Church” Why rebel against what there is no such thing of unless you feel threatened by it?”…Illiterate..is a term used for a reason as well…

    church [church] Show IPA
    a building for public Christian worship.
    public worship of God or a religious service in such a building: to attend church regularly.
    ( sometimes initial capital letter ) the whole body of Christian believers; Christendom.
    ( sometimes initial capital letter ) any division of this body professing the same creed and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority; a Christian denomination: the Methodist Church.
    that part of the whole Christian body, or of a particular denomination, belonging to the same city, country, nation, etc.

    • Denny

      Jimmy: your definitions are completely in line with Christian belief and are generally given in all dictionaries and encyclopedias as you have listed them. As right as you are, there are some
      other/additional factors that must be considered. It would serve well to identify the atheiests as
      non-believers along with the other people who have been attacking the morality imposed by our
      precious beliefs. Marriage has been redefined, but Christianity knows marriage as a union between
      two people, a man and a women, and is a sacrament shared with the Lord. The government has even supported this notion and we the people were helpless to prevent this change. The problem that will certainly result is that if the government recognizes these gatherings as a religion, they will become
      free from taxes and impose their doctrine on others. If you think about the legalality of same-sex marriage, forcing people to cater to the gay community, ENDA and now the attempt to organize
      atheistic churches, doesn’t this really represent an outright attack on the Christian faith? Therefore,
      isn’t this whole combination of events merely a way to attack religion and the 1st Amendment. It
      seems that the trend of atheistic churches/gatherings is merely another form of attack of our given

  • sharon


  • http://yahoo raquel

    I don’t think there’s a need for this type of church/club. Most
    Catholic and Protestant churches are basically social clubs where
    so-called “Christians” gather and pretend to serve God. The problem
    is they forgot one of the most important commandments: “Be fruitful…
    and replenish the earth.” So far the Christian Church is guilty of
    assisting in destroying the planet God created, mass murder, child abuse, slavery, exploitation of women, the sick and the poor; causing mental illness, ignoring the mentally ill & fraud. I could add to this list but I believe I have made my point. I went to church regularly until I discovered the sad truth regarding the history of
    Christianity. I believe in God as the universal Creator of everything.
    But I believe that God may have moved on to another universe He created. This planet is dying because of evil and that will never change. Perhaps, God has washed his hands of us since truth is only
    an illusion depending who has the power and money.

  • CJ

    Certainly tracks with what I have believed all along: Everyone worships something. Seems we were created, designed or evolved that way?? Whether it is a god, a rock, sports, or themselves, I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t hold something in a place of high esteem or reverence. Even if they do confess a god, some times it’s a toss up as to what one actually worships. Think that could be a problem? You may not admit it, but If you can quote me a hundred years worth of various sports statistics, I pretty much know where your treasure lies. So, Love the ______ (fill in your choice) your god with all your heart, and all your soul (I guess that can be optional too) and mind and might… You know, it would still work out pretty well if most would just remember the other part of the scripture that went: and love your neighbor as yourself”. In the proper context (not just trying to bang your neighbor in any number of ways), that would go a long way to greater peace on earth, but we can’t get that right either. Why is that??? I’ll leave you with the one I’m trusting in (amongst all the others) Do not be not deceived: God is not mocked, for as you sow so also shall you reap. (He never said exactly when, but bank on it). Praise God, and bless you.

  • diane blackington

    Who are they praying to (ALLAH)? These people should not be living in America. Go live with the Muslims and take Obama with you.

  • Human

    Group psychology is just as dumb when it’s under the banner of Atheism or Islam – and serves the exact same tribal functions. What religion has that Ye Internets Churche Of Dawkins does not is a set of community behavioral standards (whether right or wrong – or at the least grossly outdated); which ostensibly is the only point of having a church to begin with: a common agreement of what constitutes the behavior a good citizen of said community. I’m curious are there any behavioral standards being addressed, and expected to be adhered to, or is it come as you are? If the latter than what we have here is the church of people who don’t want to be told what to do and want to feel superior for it… i.e. modern Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Go Humanity! Can’t wait for the first schism and atheist religious wars – nihilists versus humanists… the inevitable scandals that occur when one core group is found to internally condone pedophilia and… Oh, right. We’ve done that haven’t we… If, as recent research suggests, reality is a simulation – it’s simulating stupidity with 100 percent accuracy.

  • Cynthia Banks

    Atheism is a faith, it takes faith to believe there is no God, because they can’t prove it. It is a religion. All religions are based on faith.

  • Anthony

    This is really stupid. Part of the appeal of atheism is not having to do stuff like this. Why would I join some church after I left a diferent one years ago and decided to focus on more productive endeavors?