An atheist ‘church’ has launched a half-a-million pound fundraising drive to enable people to set up “Godless congregations” around the world.
The Sunday Assembly, which says its services are “all the best bits of church, but with no religion”, currently host gatherings where people listen to talks and sing songs.
It wants to raise £500,000 to set up and run a website helping people to organise their own assemblies around the world.
The group says the new site will “allow us to help thousands of communities, and millions of people, live this one life as fully as possible”.
It wants to “provide specially commissioned marketing materials, comprehensive documentation, web support, and a network of people helping”.
The Sunday Assembly are offering rewards to people who donate, such as mugs, tea towels and “three lovely collectables containing earth, air and water”.
Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, two comedians, founded The Sunday Assembly.
Mr Jones countered criticism that the group was becoming just like organised religion, saying: “Things which are organised are not necessarily bad.”
Last month Nick Spencer, research director of religious think-tank Theos, said similar groups to The Sunday Assembly that formed in the 19th century disappeared within a couple of generations.
He said: “The reason for that was because you need more than an absence to keep you together. You need a firm common purpose.”
Mr Spencer said people in these modern-day atheist churches are united by a “felt absence of community”.
He added: “I suspect what brings them together is a real desire for community when in a modern, urbanised individualised city like London you can often feel very alone.
“That creates a lot of camaraderie, but the challenge then becomes, what actually unites us?”