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A new church, without religion, is gaining popularity in London

A new church, without religion, is gaining popularity in London

There's no God, no deities, no doctrine ... so what is it?

Sanderson Jones, co-founder of the Sunday Assembly, describes the group as a godless congregation that celebrates life. He started it along with Pippa Evans.

“We've got an awesome motto: live better, help often and wonder more. And our mission is to help everyone live this one life as fully as possible,” say Evans and Jones, speaking together, at times in unison.

The pair say they felt there weren’t any Sunday morning communal events that brought people together to celebrate life — at least events that didn't include God or religion.

Still, you can't help but notice the similarities to a traditional church service. Again, it meets on a Sunday. Someone delivers a sermon of sorts. There's chanting and, of course, choral singing. It’s Freddie Mercury, though, not your standard church fare. When all that's done, there's a moment given over to silent contemplation and giving thanks — a prayer if you will.


“The idea of atheist religions, or at the very least non-Christian religions, is quite an old one really,” says Nik Spencer, the research director at Theos, a religion-focused think tank based in London. He's also the author of a new book about the history of atheism.

Spencer said organized alternatives to the Catholic Church sprang up in the wake of the French Revolution, keeping the model of a traditional service.

“Particularly in the 1830s when certain thinkers developed what you could call Catholicism without God, in which people celebrated humanity, in which humanity replaced God as the object of worship,” he adds.

These movements started enthusiastically, but without God as the headline act, support eventually waned. The Sunday Assembly may be hot right now, but Spencer says these movements need a center of gravity.

“If, as is the case in a lot of these movements, their center of gravity has effectively been an absence — that is often not quite strong enough to hold them together,” he says.

Russel Newlove | read the full article on

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