It seems a lot of atheists would like to go to a Sunday service, but most are put off by the believing in God aspect. Now, in North London at least, there is a monthly Sunday service for non-believers, loosely following the format of Christian services. The Sunday Assembly, as it is called, was started by comedians Pippa Evans and Sanderson Jones. They have readings, sermons about caring for others, silent reflection, sing songs like “Don’t stop me now – Queen” and of course take up a collection. It’s everything you would expect from a religion, apart from the faith in God bit. For the second meeting, the service attracted too many people and some had to be directed to a nearby bar to watch a video feed of the event. It turns out that religion can be fun if you omit the faith in god. Watch the video on BBC at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-21325805
The Sunday Assembly website (sundayassembly.com) has a link to help you if you want to set it up in your area. I think it’s a great idea, but I’m too much of an Apathist to do anything about it. however, if you start it up in my area, I’ll drop in from time to time.
Atheists in Streator, Illinois offended some Christians during Easter week by erecting a sign saying “Nobody died for our ‘sins’, Jesus Christ is a myth”. It was erected in protest against an Easter display of crosses in the same park. It caused so much offense that by Easter Sunday, the sign had disappeared and all that was left were two bent poles. In response the Atheist group, Freedom from Religion Foundation, offered a reward of $1,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. They also want it treated as a hate crime. The sign in the picture is a replacement sign, to which they have added the additional message, “P.S. your god says ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’”
Do you have an imaginary friend? If you believe in a God then the Colorado Coalition of Reason think you do. They are putting up billboards declaring that God is an imaginary friend and urging people to choose reality because it will be better for all of us. They say the billboards are not intended to cause offense, but to let like minded Atheists know that they are not alone. On their website they say they are not asking people to stop believing in their version of a supernatural being, just to stop trying to make everyone else do the same. Amen Brother. God Bless Atheism.
Following his closing joke on the Golden Globes, where he thanked God he was an atheist, Ricky Gervais is teaming up with Clyde Phillips, of Dexter fame, to develop a new comedy provisionally called Afterlife. It deals with a situation where an atheist dies and goes to heaven. Like the movie Ricky directed, The Invention of Lying, the idea really appeals to me. I think Atheists and Apathists alike would have a far greater chance of entering heaven than many proclaimed religious people. Sounds promising, but we will have to wait to find out how good it is. It is at a very early stage and will most likely air next year. Congratulations also to Ricky for being nominated for an Emmy for hosting the Golden Globes. Read more on his blog.
It’s July 4th and many Americans are at war within their own country, arguing whether they should be one nation under God, or just one nation. Originally the United States was founded with a clear separation of church and state. However in 1954, the Pledge of Allegiance was amended through legislation to have the words “under God” added to the end. There have been growing calls to remove them again and when NBC recently edited them out of a broadcast there was uproar. American Atheists have sponsored planes to fly today pulling banners stating “GodLESS America!” and “Atheism is Patriotic”. They are only flying in 26 states, as many companies have refused to pull the banners. A company in North Carolina stated “I’m not going to Hell flying that sign!” The Atheists would of course argue that they will not be going to Hell, or Heaven, in either case. American Atheists say that is exactly the sort of bigotry they are fighting. You can see the schedule of flights on their website. God bless America.
Following his Christmas message, “Why I’m an Atheist”, Ricky Gervais, now has an Easter Message for us outlining how he is a good Christian even though he doesn’t believe in God. It probably applies to most Atheists and is worth a read on his website.
Well no surprise that Americans didn’t appreciate the sense of humour displayed by Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes. He made swipes at Charlie Sheen for liking alcohol too much, Hugh Hefner for liking 24-year-old women too much and scientologists for disliking gays too much. What caused the most outrage however, was his closing remark.
“Thank for everyone in the room for being good sports, to NBC and the Hollywood foreign press, thank you for watching at home, and thank you God for making me an atheist.”
By the following day, NBC had received dozens of complaints from all over the United States. The Corpus Christi group in Texas wanted to know why the blasphemy had not been bleeped out. The reason, apparently, is that organisers did not believe they would have to warn a professional presenter about being disrespectful to God in a family show being broadcast on the Sabbath. They were completely thrown by the remark, which on the European side of the Atlantic would not have raised an eyebrow. Many Americans are very touchy about religion and it can trigger fights with an almost zero tolerance policy.
The sensitive subject of religion in the US is also responsible for a premium advertisement being rejected for airing during the Super Bowl. The JESUShatesOBAMA.com website, a shop for selling products bearing the slogan “Jesus hates Obama”, created a video with bobbling head miniatures of Jesus and Obama. The frowning Jesus grins after Obama falls into water. It’s hardly blasphemy and you can see it on their website, but it was enough for Fox to ban the advert and in so doing generate even more leads for the online store. Seemingly the store has made enough money from selling these products to persuade a Venture Capitalist to fund the advertisement. A 30 second advertising slot during the Super Bowl costs around $30 million. Well as the TV evangelists know, “There’s money in religion.”
It is not surprising that Atheists and Agnostics scored the highest, in a recent survey of religious knowledge, carried out by the Pew Forum in the United States. Atheists and Agnostics usually adopt these titles after a thorough examination of various religions. It is not easy to reject ideas that, in most cases, have been instilled since an early age. I was a little surprised that 53% of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the inspiration for the Protestant Reformation. He even featured in an episode of the Simpsons. 43% of Jews did not recognise that Maimonides was Jewish and 45% of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ during a mass (transubstantiation), rather than being a symbolic representation. It’s good to know that Apathism is alive and well in the major organised religions.
Some other scary findings revealed that 40% of those asked believe that people and animals have existed in their present form since the start of time and 4% believe that Stephen King wrote Moby Dick.
For more detail see the Pew Forum website http://pewforum.org/Other-Beliefs-and-Practices/U-S-Religious-Knowledge-Survey.aspx
Religious Police enforce banning Stars and Angels from Govt XMas trees in SF. Don’t offend sensitive Atheists.