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Bryan Preston

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November 11, 2013 - 1:18 pm

Yahoo needs to get something straight. In its report, it calls these new atheist gatherings “mega-churches.” But they’re not “mega” and they’re not churches.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Several hundred people, including families with small children, packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational talk and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was God.

Nearly three dozen gatherings dubbed “atheist mega-churches” by supporters and detractors have sprung up around the U.S. and Australia — with more to come — after finding success in Great Britain earlier this year. The movement fueled by social media and spearheaded by two prominent British comedians is no joke.

They sing songs, they hear a sermon, they meet and greet. But it isn’t a church. It’s a club.

The word “church” has a specific meaning — it’s the body of believers in the global context and a Christian place of worship in this specific context. Just as a mosque is an Islamic place of worship.

Notice which word the atheists are attempting to steal and render meaningless. One, not the other.

“Mega-churches” are typically churches with thousands of members, some have tens of thousands. None of the clubs in Yahoo’s piece have anything close to that scale of membership. They’re all in the hundreds at most.

So they’re not mega, and they’re not churches.

The anti-churches are being set up both to mimic the authentic church, and to provide something that churches provide members.

“There was so much about it that I loved, but it’s a shame because at the heart of it, it’s something I don’t believe in,” Jones said. “If you think about church, there’s very little that’s bad. It’s singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people — and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?”

Sunday Assembly — whose motto is Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More — taps into that universe of people who left their faith but now miss the community church provided, said Phil Zuckerman, a professor of secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont.

As a Christian, this makes me sad. We’re wired to need and want community. But if you don’t believe in what the church is teaching, the few rituals that survive in the mega-church setting make no sense. Why take on the symbols of belief? Why go out of your way to mock those who do believe? Calling these clubs “churches” is an act of intolerance and aggression against believers.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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Top Rated Comments   
“If you think about church, there’s very little that’s bad. It’s singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people — and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?”

I'm an atheist and I do all those things, except I do it on Friday and usually refer to it as "happy hour". If you call yourself an athiest and you go to church then you're doing it wrong.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (23)
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When these atheists set up a fake mosque, then I'll be impressed.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
What infuriates me is their talking about needing to find each other when "surrounded by a faith culture", as my local newspaper put it. WHERE is THAT??? Here in the US, and especially here in the state of Washington, militant atheism is forcing believers in God and in Christianity to HIDE. Even Christian clergy in the military are punished for actually talking about Christ and sin and such. I think that this is just one more way, AFTER they have already forced gay marriage, gay "tolerance", gay sex ed, politically correct speech, and Islamotolerance on us all, now they want to publicly proclaim atheist meeting buildings, where, I strongly suspect, they are not only socializing, but planning and plotting how to destroy what remains of Christianity in America, and force Christians, in the phrase of one prominent atheist, "to meet in unmarked basements", once and for ALL, and to have atheism taught in the schools and Christianity forced in its entirety from public view and hearing.
On the other hand, I read an article where a bunch of atheists were interviewed,and the overwhelming majority had become atheist because NOBODY had ever talked to them about his or her PERSONAL feelings about Jesus, or had ever explained how their Christian beliefs made a big and happy difference in their lives and guided their decisions,thoughts and behavior. It seems that, for Christianity to survive, we must not only put forth a maximum effort every day to LIVE like Christians, we must have the faith and moral courage to enthusiastically share our experiences and joys as Christians with other people, including especially with our children, grandchildren and others we love and care about.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, at least they aren't burning them st the stake like, you know, Christians did for 1200 years.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
This reminds me of CS Lewis saying that a blasphemer is like a condemned prisoner in a dungeon who writes "Darkness" on his cell wall in the belief that it will extinguish the Sun.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Not only do bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people! That's why crap floats and gold sinks!"

--"Atheist Church" MadTV
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sounds like these poor souls are just 1 step away from forming the Family Guy's Church of the Fonz.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Calling these clubs “churches” is an act of intolerance and aggression against believers."

Mr. Preston, are you not in the end, impinging on God's territory here? Should that be God's call, and not yours?

One would surmise that if you are solid in your belief, that such things would, could not be of the slightest importance.

Church or club? Mega? Micro? God is laughing. And God does not play dice. There, there... you are. Man is not the final arbiter.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Agree

So what is an "atheist church"?

I get the tautology and mirth. Bronx Zionist defines atheism as a "belief" as indeed is true. The faith that there us no god. Such a belief is not offensive against those of us who believe there is one.

"God does not play dice with the universe."

Einstein, in my opinion, rejected randomness as a constant feature in the universe. That is not religious belief.

Anything that acts can be acted upon. Maybe it is not so or there is a propose and reason.

Then again outside of a dog a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it is too dark to read"

Groucho Marx

37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I see it the other way - it is confirmation that Atheism is absolutely a religious belief. A negative one to be sure, but an expression of a belief in the divine nonetheless.

That its adherents are now also recognizing that in denying faith they have denied a crucial element of community that they must reclaim is also significant, as it shows that the claim that people can exist without any aspect of religion is fundamentally false.

As for them being "churches", I'd expect that to mean they are more likely to become Christians when they realize that Atheism is still so empty despite the happy clubhouses they are setting up.
I'd only be worried if they were calling them "mega-mosques".
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Making sweeping judgements about atheism and atheists based on this is every bit as valid as judging Christianity based on Westboro Baptist. For every atheist engaging in this deliberately disrespectful behavior there are a hundred of us just happily, quietly going about our lives, wishing for the faithful to happily, quietly go about theirs.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have done research on the Communist and Socialist revolutions throughout the 20th Century, not to mention the French Revolutions during the 18th century up to the 19th Century (the fourth iteration being the only one to actually be Communist due to Marx being involved), as well as the bloodbath that occurred in each ones (Russian Revolution, Korean Revolution, Cambodian Revolution, Nicaraguan Revolution, Vietnam Revolution, Nazism, the list goes on and on, to say nothing about the AMC and the like). All of those revolutions, BTW, were caused, run, and done by atheists (whether it be the Bolshieveks and Menshieveks of the Russian Revolution, the Nazi Party of Nazi Germany, the Jacobins of the first French Revolution, the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, the Viet Minh/Viet Cong of the Vietnam Revolution, or anything else), and all had the exact same results. The Atheists adopted various names and "goals" throughout the years, whether it be implementing a Rousseau/Voltaire/Sade-style direct democracy of secularism, instituting a Marxist state, a Communist agrarian society, implementing socialism to the national level, or even some sort of mixture, but it always has the exact same results, possibly even the same underlying goal: They always tried to exterminate religion, as they considered it to be either an "opiate of the masses" or simply as "chains." In the case of the French Revolution, it was also a state of total anarchy, so totalitarianism isn't even the reason there. All atheists desire the destruction of religion. All those atheistic revolutions and the patterns that emerged have taught me that, and it is not a sweeping judgment if history has demonstrated it time and time again. If anything, a sweeping statement would be claiming that all atheists support religion, when in fact, a small minority, if any, atheists truly support it.

Also, atheism is NOT a religion. A religion, aside from being a belief system, has concepts of an afterlife, as well as supernatural elements. In other words, unless the religion in question has either an omnipotent being with an army of superpowered beings ruling over us, or really any supernatural beings capable of manipulating things without any access to technology (or even with technology in the case of those perfectly capable of manipulating technology with solely the mind), they actually have a concept of life after death or any of that, you have a philosophy at best, not a true religion. Even the Greek cults at least believed in at least one superpowered being.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
What sweeping judgments?

That A-THEISM is, linguistically, a statement in reference to divinity?
Well, I suppose that is pretty sweeping, but it refers to the term, not the individuals.

That adherents of the faith of Atheism, and it is a faith as none have ever produced the kind of objective proof of the non-existence of divinity that they demand Theists, Mono-, Poly-, or otherwise, produce of the existence of divinity, see that community interaction is a Good Thing (TM)?
Well, I suppose that is a bit sweeping, but then you acknowledge it is a valid representation of yourself, so why the complaint?

Now if I had written, as I usually do, that Atheism is the second most intolerant faith on the planet, then that would indeed be a sweeping judgment about Atheism and atheists, though not based on this set up of their mega-churches or non-churches or whatever.
However it seems just as with the socialization element, you are determined to prove that is a legitimate observation, at least with regards to you and your gratuitous invocation of the WBC and summary excommunication of the Atheists mentioned in this article for heresy.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
"That adherents of the faith of Atheism, and it is a faith as none have ever produced the kind of objective proof of the non-existence of divinity that they demand...."

Try to follow this. You can't prove a negative. For example, I put a sandwich in the office fridge yesterday morning and when I went to eat it it was gone. You cannot prove that my sandwich WASN'T taken by invisible invaders from Pluto who are upset that we downgraded their home from planet to planetoid. Of course, a rational person would conclude that one of my inconsiderate co-workers is the more likely culprit, but you still can't prove that the Plutonians didn't do it.

And that is why, when having a rational discussion, the burden of proof is on the person asserting the positive. It's not for me to prove that a being operating outside the known laws of physics doesn't exist, it's for you to prove that he does. But because religion is based on faith and belief instead of rationality I've found it's best to avoid the conversation altogether because there's just no upside to it.

And how exactly does pointing out that a minority of Christians are intolerant lunatics make me intolerant?
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Try to follow this:
The failure of one party to prove their theory does not constitute proof of your theory.

Just because religious believers cannot prove to your satisfaction, they clearly prove it to their own satisfaction, that their is a divine presence, does not constitute proof that you are correct in asserting that there is no divine presence.

If you were an agnostic you would be on solid ground by expressing doubt.

Atheists, including yourself, however go further and state a positive: that there is no divine presence. That places a burden on you to demonstrate this. If I say that house over there is painted blue on the inside and you say it is not, my inability to get inside the house and take pictures does not prove that you are correct. You must get inside yourself and present the evidence that the wall are not in fact blue.

And that is why, when having a rational discussion, you cannot do so with the overwhelming majority of Atheists. You are in absolute denial that your beliefs are absolutely driven by faith in something completely unproven, and indeed by your own declarations unprovable, while you continue to insist, against all standards of science and logic, that the failure of another faith to prove its claims stands as evidence of your own.

As for how exactly pointing out that a minority of people who call themselves Christians are intolerant lunatics makes you intolerant, that is the standard you are applying when declaring that people critiquing a putative minority of Atheists are intolerant jackanapes makes those people intolerant. That victim card is more than easily turned against you, and given your complaints about it is seems clear that you recognize it is justifiably done so.
Which of course stands as yet more evidence that Atheism is indeed the second most intolerant religion on the planet.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
“If you think about church, there’s very little that’s bad. It’s singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people — and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?”

I'm an atheist and I do all those things, except I do it on Friday and usually refer to it as "happy hour". If you call yourself an athiest and you go to church then you're doing it wrong.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
So wait . . .
There is an Atheist "canon" of rules they must follow or be excommunicated?

Sounds like you've got a religion going on there.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'd love to respond to this but it literally makes no sense. Where, in ANYTHING I've posted, have I used the words "canon" or "excommunicated"? Or anything resembling those words?
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I'm an atheist and I do all those things, except I do it on Friday and usually refer to it as "happy hour". If you call yourself an athiest and you go to church then you're doing it wrong."

Right there.
You declare a way to do particular things if you are an Atheist (a "canon") and then proclaim those claiming to be Atheists who do something else are doing it "wrong" (the "excommunication").
Just because you are unwilling to acknowledge those declarations qualify as those terms does not change the function.
You have a religion to go along with your faith.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
How much hate must be in the hearts of these people, that they would take the time out of their lives for this? Don't like God? Fine. Ignore Him. (Don't come crying to me, though, when he ignores you right back.) Why would you give it any more time and thought than that? Hatred.

One other thought: This seems like another empty perversion of a Godly institution, just like gay marriage is an empty perversion of holy matrimony.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, I don't know. Empty perversion, yes, without a doubt. But I think it reveals that they are cognizant that theirs is a vacuous worldview and they are trying to fix it. Rather than feel offended, I feel pity. It won't last, of course. It's just a passing fad of no lasting importance.
37 weeks ago
37 weeks ago Link To Comment
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