Two stand-up comedians that lead an atheist ‘church’ in the UK will be embarking on an international tour this month in an effort to establish atheist fellowships worldwide.
The “40 Dates and 40 Nights” roadshow will hit 22 locations around the globe, including in the United States, where events will take place in Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Nashville, Atlanta and other major cities.
As previously reported, in January of this year, stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans organized a gathering, originally held at the Nave in Canonbury, called “Sunday Assembly.” As Jones is an atheist and Evans an agnostic, instead of having worship and prayer, the gathering features secular music performed by an in-house band and special speakers, such as authors and fellow comics.
“It’s part atheist church and part foot-stomping show,” Jones told reporters. “We just want people to feel encouraged and excited when they leave.”
“The Sunday Assembly is a godless congregation that celebrate life,” adds the organization’s website. “Our mission: to help everyone find and fulfill their full potential. Our motto: live better, help often, wonder more.”
During the service, an offering is received for the various projects of “Sunday Assembly” and fellowship is available afterward over free tea.
Jones told ABC News that he was raised in the Christian church, but when his mother died at the age of ten, he couldn’t understand why God would allow her to die of cancer. As a result, he turned to atheism.
“Losing faith meant that she had to die twice,” the 32-year-old told the outlet. “Once when she went to Heaven and then when I realized Heaven didn’t exist. It meant I had to work out a way to understand life and for me, it was realizing that instead of being angry that she was taken away so soon, I became overjoyed that I had ever been loved by her at all.”
Jones and Evans are now on a mission to spread their godless assembly to cities around the globe.
“Our vision: a godless congregation in every town, city and village that wants one,” their website states.
The “40 Dates and 40 Nights” roadshow will be held throughout the U.K. and Ireland, Australia, Canada and the United States. According to reports, over 400 people have signed up to attend the event in Los Angeles next month.
“The church model has worked really well for a couple of thousand years,” Ian Dodd, who is launching the Los Angeles chapter, told Salon. “What we’re trying to do is hold on to the bath water while throwing out the baby Jesus.”
Nicole Steeves, who is overseeing the Chicago plant, agreed.
“I have keenly felt the absence of what I think are the best parts of a church: friendships built on common beliefs; a built-in network of helpers for child care, sickness, etc.,” she told the publication.
In addition to efforts to plant new “churches” around the world, Jones and Evans plan to establish an online platform that will assist the new sites.
“When there are hundreds and—if all goes to plan—thousands of communities on the site, it will be a Wikipedia for good deeds and open sourced community action,” Jones stated.
While Jones and Evans state that they believe the concept of an atheist “church” will be successful, others note that there are already a lot of people who attend Christian churches who are not born again believers.
“[Y]ou might not realize it, but not everyone in church is a Christian,” said Jim Duke of Trinity Worship Center in Albany, New York. “You see, Christians are not defined as those who acknowledge Jesus Christ. If that were the case, Satan would be Christian, and so would his demons, as Satan believes Jesus exists. He just doesn’t give Him any reverence. And neither do those in your circles who say they know God, tell you they believe in Jesus, but give more reverence to their favorite baseball team.”
“Many Christian churches … are filled with people. But, are they filled with Christians?” he concluded. “Jesus said you will know them by their fruit.”