UK's 'Atheist Church' Holds First Global 'General Assembly;' Plans Expansion

The U.K.-based Sunday Assembly, or the "atheist Church," which has congregations also in the United States, is holding its first "general assembly" to establish a church-like management system and discuss governing principles and "doctrines."

The congregation of godless people, which predicts it will have at least 100 congregations around the world by the year-end, is holding its first "general assembly" in London this weekend, which, the organizers say, will be compared to the Church of England's General Synod, according to The Guardian.

"Sunday Assemblies have been kicking off in places we never thought possible," Sanderson Jones, co-founder of the London-based Sunday Assembly, tells the British daily. "If I open my email box the first email is in Hungarian, discussing Sunday Assembly Budapest, after there is something from Kenya, then the Western Cape, then Richmond, Virginia, then Cincinnati, then Boston."

Godless congregations are also starting in São Paulo, Kuala Lumpur, Grimsby and Aberdeen, the group says. Preparations are underway for at least 27 new Sunday Assemblies in the U.S. alone.

The weekend meeting features workshops and lectures for delegates from the U.K., U.S. and Netherlands on how to start their own atheist congregations. The group will also elect Board members and discuss governing principles and limits of the doctrine.

"We are growing fast but we want to ensure that it is good growth," Jones says. "The reason we want to have an overarching organization is we have a mission to help everyone live as fully as possible, and if you look at the organizations that do things most efficiently, they tend to have a structure to them."

Jones, a stand-up comedian, founded the U.K.'s Sunday Assembly along with his colleague Pippa Evans last January.

"There are 1.1 billion non-religious people in the world," Jones tells The Daily Beast. "We want to have a godless congregation in every town, city and village that wants one."

Jones adds: "The thing that we've got is that we're the only non-religious service that works. Rationality is part of it, but we also have the emotional connection. We are speaking to the whole human."

"We are born from nothing and go to nothing. Let's enjoy it together," says the Public Charter of the Assembly, which has "no doctrine... no set texts so we can make use of wisdom from all sources... no deity."

It adds: "We don't do supernatural but we also won't tell you you're wrong if you do. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, we have moments of weakness or life just isn't fair. We want The Sunday Assembly to be a house of love and compassion, where, no matter what your situation, you are welcomed, accepted and loved."

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