Atheists sing, stomp and don’t believe
(ABC News) Sanderson Jones, who grew up in a religious British family, described the death of his mother when he was only 10 and his subsequent loss of faith as a “cataclysmic catastrophic event.”
He loved the rituals of the Christian church in which he was raised, but could not get his head around why God would allow cancer to take his mother — a Sunday school teacher with five children — at the age of 42.
“Losing faith meant that she had to die twice,” said Sanderson, now 32 and living in London. “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.”
So today, Sanderson, an atheist and stand-up comedian known for selling his show tickets by hand, leads the Sunday Assembly, a community of godless congregants that began in London and is now being exported to the United States.
Commentary By Gordon King
I just had to add my two cents to this issue. The U.S. Army has found inscriptions of Bible verse passages etched into the lenses of some rifle scopes. Which I think is awesome. However, the government doesn’t seem to agree with me. All soldiers have been told to turn in their scopes so that the inscriptions could be removed. This is what is wrong with our government. Removing God from everything it can get it’s’ hands on. This is the problem with the world. Removing God, pushing him away, taking him out of our lives! The United States will pay a price for this. Evil is increasing daily, just read my blog and others as well. God will not allow this to continue unpunished. We are so close to the return of Christ. We cannot change the course of the world, but, we can change the lives of people by leading them to the salvation of Jesus Christ! Amen
Vendor etched inscriptions into serial numbers
The U.S. Army is directing troops to remove a Bible inscription that a vendor etched into the serial numbers of weapon scopes, Fox News has learned.
Soldiers at Fort Wainwright in Alaska told Fox News they received a directive to turn in their scopes so the Bible references could be removed.
The scopes were made by Trijicon and referenced New Testament passages in John 8:12 and Second Corinthians 4:6. The verses appeared at the end of the scope serial numbers – “JN8:12” and “2COR4:6.”
“The biblical verse (JN8:12) must be removed utilizing a Dremel type tool and then painted black,” read instructions on how to remedy the matter.
After the letters and numbers were scrapped off, soldiers were directed to use apply black paint to ensure the verses were totally covered.
“The vendor etched those inscriptions on scopes without the Army’s approval,” Army spokesman Matthew Bourke told Fox in a written statement. “Consequently, the modified scopes did not meet the requirement under which the contract was executed.”
Bourke said the vendor agreed to remove all Bible references on future deliveries.
“Some of these scopes had already been fielded,” Bourke explained. “Corrective measures were taken to remove inscriptions during the RESET/PRESET process in order to avoid a disruption in combat operations.”
Trijicon did not return phone calls seeking comment. A company spokesman told ABC News in 2010 that the inscriptions had always been on the sights and there was nothing wrong or illegal with including them.
The company told ABC they believed the issue had been raised by a group that is “not Christian.”
One of the Fort Wainwright soldiers who received the order to remove the inscription told Fox News that hardly anyone was aware of the religious reference.
“It blows my mind,” the solider said. “It doesn’t help the Army do its mission to take off a biblical reference.”
The soldier, who is a Christian, said he had to comply so “someone doesn’t get offended.”
“We have classes on equal opportunity – things that are clearly irrelevant to our mission – which is to kill the enemy.”
Some atheists are looking for the same community connections that Christians, Jews, Muslims and other religious people build and foster when they flock to their respective houses of worship each week. In continuing to borrow from the faith community, it seems non-believers are increasingly launching their own church services, aimed at fellowshipping with their fellow non-theists.
TheBlaze has reported about this phenomenon before. In February, we told you about “The Sunday Assembly,” a church based in England that was launched by two comedians — Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans. The atheist collective describes itself as, “a godless congregation that will meet on the first Sunday of every month to hear great talks, sing songs and generally celebrate the wonder of life.”
And, of course, there’s the Tulsa, Oklahoma, preacher we mentioned last year who is hosting services for humanists and secularists. The Rev. Marlin Lavanhar of All Souls Unitarian Church described the special worship services he was holding for these individuals, saying at the time, “These are people who are not inspired to live their lives a certain way by ideas of God or by Scripture but who have the same human needs for community, compassion, meaning and marking the significant passages of birth, coming of age, marriage and death.”
In a new report by Religion News Service (RNS), the growth of this atheist church phenomenon is further noted. One church in Houston, Texas, called Houston Oasis is profiled — and its similarities to traditional Christian churches are apparently worth noting. The outlet reports that the weekly gathering attracts around 80 attendees who are simply looking for a connection to others like them.
“Just because you don’t believe in God does not mean you do not need to get together in community and draw strength from that,” Mike Aus, founder of the church and a former Lutheran pastor, told RNS. “We are open to any message about life as long as no dogmatic claims are made.”
RNS’s Kimberly Winston highlights the similarities between what’s observed at Houston Oasis and other traditional Christian churches:
Still, inside the conference room in a nondescript office building on the city’s west side, it’s hard to ignore the structural similarities to a Sunday morning church service. There is live music played and performed by members that is intended to spur reflection as well as entertain; a collection is taken up in a passed wicker basket.
A banner taped to a window declared what might be called Houston Oasis’ creed. It pointedly says “we think,” not “we believe” […]
The day’s message, delivered on a recent Sunday by Ray Hill, a former Baptist pastor and a longtime activist for civil and gay rights, would not have been out of place in many churches. All human beings, he said, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation are of equal worth and deserving of respect.
Some non-believers, though, despite borrowing from religious practice, don’t like the term “atheist church.” Instead, they want to be known more as a support community, bound together by basic human values.
But considering their penchant for summer programs for children (reminiscent of churches’ vacation Bible school programs), blood drives and other similar programs, it’s difficult to tell non-believing and theologically-attuned congregations apart — at least when it comes to general attributes of practice.
Also, let’s keep in mind that many of these groups have begun meeting on Sundays, yet another key indicator that they are following church blueprints. Read Winston’s full report over at RNS and let us know what you think about the growing atheist church phenomenon.