UK’s first atheist ‘church’ set to launch

Thu, 3 Jan 2013

The first “atheist church” in the country is set to open in London, but critics say it’s a contradiction in terms.

Stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, who are behind the ‘church’, say they like many aspects of religion but don’t believe in God.

But last year prominent atheist Richard Dawkins hit out at separate plans to build a £1 million “temple for atheists” in London, as a waste of money and a contradiction in terms.

Contradiction

The comedians, who had a BBC Radio 4 show called Showstopper, will meet as The Sunday Assembly once a month.

Mr Jones said: “We thought it would be a shame not to enjoy the good stuff about religion, like the sense of community, just because of a theological disagreement”.

He continued: “It’s part atheist church and part foot-stomping show. There will be a speaker on a theme each month but there will also be an awesome house band, which Pippa will lead. We’ll be helping people try and stick to their new year’s resolutions in the first service.”

Cautious

Revd Saviour Grech of Saint Peter and Saint Paul Roman Catholic Church, said: “How can you be an atheist and worship in a church? Surely it’s a contradiction of terms. Who will they be singing to?

“It is important to debate and engage with atheists but for them to establish a church like any other religious denomination is going too far. I’m cautious about it.”

Temples

Last year Alain de Botton, a philosopher and writer, wanted to build a 46-metre tower to celebrate atheism as a positive force.

But Professor Dawkins said: “Atheists don’t need temples. I think there are better things to spend this kind of money on.”

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