When British comedians Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones decided last winter they liked the atmosphere and fellowship of a church, but they did not believe in God, they started what apparently was, at the time, the first church for atheists.
They say it’s been so successful they now are launching a world tour to grow their godless church.
According to a report in the Guardian, they will be starting their promo tour in Edinburgh Oct. 22, then traveling quickly through Glasgow, Brighton, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Leeds and Manchester.
The schedule there takes them to Dublin on the first, followed by a quick trip over the Atlanta to New York, Harvard, Washington, Chicago, San Diego, Silicon Valley, then on to Vancouver, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.
According to a report from the U.K.-based Christian Institute, the effort faces long odds.
Citing the appearance – and quick disappearance – of other similar groups, Nick Spencer of the religious think-tank Theos said, “The reason for that was because you need more than an absence to keep you together. You need a firm common purpose.”
“I suspect what brings them together is a real desire for community when a modern, urbanized individualized city like London you can often feel very alone. That creates a lot of camaraderie, but the challenge then becomes, what actually unites us?”
Calling it a “global missionary tour,” the comedians have plans for dozens, perhaps hundreds, of satellite groups of atheists in churches.
The Guardian quoted Jones, “The one thing that we didn’t take into account was the power of the Internet, and I think even more than that, the fact that there is obviously a latent need for this kind of thing. People have always congregated around things that they believe in. I think people are going to look back at the fact that it didn’t happen as the oddity, not this part.”
The original location in London holds meetings with singing, contemplation and a secular talk, and the satellites will be expected to adhere to the format.
“If we do it in London and there are 400 people who come, that’s brilliant, but if we find a way to help hundreds of people to set one up then we can have a bigger impact than we could ever dream of,” Jones told the Guardian.
In London, participants in the godless church say they are considering launching a school.
When the original non-god church was announced, WND reported that the plans just went too far for the Rev. Saviour Grech, of St. Peter and St. Paul Roman Catholic Church.
“How can you be an atheist and worship in a church? Surely it’s a contradiction of terms. Who will they be singing to?” he said. “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.”