The Atheist Church | Have a Little Faith with Zach Anner


-There is no God! That’s something
I usually only exclaim when I’m out of ice cream or there’s not a movie
I can watch on Netflix. But Atheism is a very important
belief system in this country. And today we’re gonna meet one
from Los Angeles. Her name’s Sarah,
and she actually started something called
the Sunday Assembly, where a bunch of atheists all get together with their families
on Sunday mornings, and there’s singing
and food and community. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Kind of like
a church for atheists. So let’s go see
what this is all about, and we’re gonna have
a little faith in people
who don’t believe in God. Hello! -Hello!
-Nice to meet you. -Hi, Zach, I’m Sarah Barker
with Sunday Assembly. -Awesome!
Nice to meet you. So, are you ready
to talk all about atheism? -Absolutely.
-All right. Let’s go thank science
for this beautiful day. -Let’s do it.
-Wait, there’s got to be
an easier way to do this. Is this cool?
Does this look cool on camera? Hold on. Bye! We just met
like three minutes ago. -Yes. [ Chuckles ] -Can you tell me
a little bit about yourself? -Sure. I teach
at Pasadena City College. -What do you teach?
-I teach TV, radio, and film production.
-Awesome! -Ah!
-I was a major of that. -Were you?
-You’re an atheist. -Yes, I am.
-And that’s why we’re talking. What is an atheist? -I think most of the people
that I’ve talked to who identify as being an atheist
would say kind of, like, what I feel about it,
you know, which is, “I need evidence
in the existence of some kind of supernatural deity,
an interventionist deity.” And then for some folks,
they’re a lot more hard-lined. They absolutely don’t believe
in the possibility. And then others are a little bit
softer on the other side of it. I think it’s kind of
a squishy subject. -It’s squishy.
-It’s squishy. -Atheists are kind of defined by
what they don’t believe. Are there any things
that all atheists do believe? -You know, I don’t think
that all atheists — You know, if you are an atheist,
X, Y, and Z. Fill in the blank. You know,
“All atheists think this,” or, “All atheists feel this.”
I think there’s a spectrum. For instance,
I think if you were to ask a lot of people
that founded Sunday Assembly, they would say, “I do believe
in celebrating life ’cause we’re here
and that’s awesome.” They would say, “It’s important
to be of service to others. It’s a part of our human
experience that gives us joy.” -I think celebrating life
is wonderful. But how do you not get depressed when you think about
the rotting-in-the-ground part? -I think it makes
me appreciate life more because I don’t think I’m gonna
be going anywhere after I die, and so this is the shot
that I have. This is it. And how can I leave the world
a better place? I think life is miraculous.
I think evolution is miraculous. And I look at it
as a great adventure. You know, who knows what’s
gonna happen after this life? -What do you think atheism has allowed
you to experience in life that religion couldn’t? -Whatever kind of life
I’m gonna have, it’s really up to me
to create that life, and I can do that through
actions and words and deeds. So in a way,
I think it’s very freeing. There’s a freedom there.
-You choose your own path, and, you know, a lot of people that are Christian
or from other religions say, “Well, if God’s not watching,
what’s to keep atheists from, you know,
thieving and murdering and doing all sorts
of bad stuff?” -We know when we do something that’s hurtful
to ourselves and others. You know, it’s experiential.
You feel it. It really kind of demeans
our human evolution to suppose that we can’t be
kind and generous and not go out and kill
a bunch of people just because we don’t
have a God concept. -That’s a good segue
into where we are now. We’re at the Sunday Assembly. What is the Sunday Assembly? ‘Cause
when I heard about it, I thought it sounded
like an atheist church. -Sunday Assembly was founded by
Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans. They’re actually
stand-up comedians in London. We all kind of got together
and we looked at the model and we said, “Hey,
here’s somebody who’s trying to keep the focus
on, you know, celebrating life and celebrating the one life
that we have ’cause this is it.” ‘Cause we believe that after — I believe that
when I’m dead, I’m dead. I’m gonna be in the ground,
and my body’s gonna deteriorate. It wasn’t this negative bashing
of religion. It was, “Let’s celebrate life.”
-Wait, wait. Can you tell me what happens
at the Sunday Assembly, what I can expect
when we go in there? -There are aspects of it
that are a lot like church. But there’s singing.
There’s sing-a-longs. [music] But you got to keep
your head up, oh [music] [music] And let your hair down, yeah [music] [music] But you got to keep
your head up, whoa [music] [music] And you can let
your hair down, yeah [music] [music] I know it’s hard… [music]
-We also have an emcee. Today we have Amy Boyle, who’s one of our organizers,
will be emceeing it. There’s an icebreaker.
-We do icebreakers because we think
that it would be very sad to sit in a room for an hour next to strangers with like
values and ignore them. You got to pair up with someone
you don’t already know. You’re gonna give that person
three compliments. -I’m originally from Buffalo. Just moved to Los Angeles. Now I host a show on YouTube
that’s being filmed right now. Well, first of all,
you’re a very snappy dresser. You’re a confident person. I wish that I had your mustache
is what I’m getting at. I’m enamored already,
even though we just met. -Zach, I can tell about you that you are a very social
person, that you’re a person who can put themself out there
with absolute confidence and be on a social platform, which is something
that I really envy. -You want to hug it out, man? -I absolutely
want to hug it out. -There’s also science. You know, there’s also speakers that come and talk
about science. -You have people
come and talk about science in the same way
that a preacher would educate people
about Scripture. -Yeah.
-Next up is our keynote speaker. He’s an author of several books, including one coming out
called “The Secular Life.” Please join me in welcoming
Phil Zuckerman. [ Cheers and applause ] -Look,
if you’re secular, this is it. This time, this world,
this life. We could talk
about other pillars of secular society —
other values, like reason, rationalism, making decisions
based on evidence. There is one area where religious culture
tends to do a bit better, and that is
strong communal bonds. And I have one answer
to that, and it’s got two words — Sunday Assembly.
Whoo! [ Applause ]
Thank you. -It’s completely volunteer-run. We all just show up.
We pitch in. We’ve been turning out
pretty big numbers. So there obviously is
a real interest and need here, but in terms of what it is, I think we’re still trying
to figure that out. -The question for me is,
“Okay, if God’s not watching, why are we still getting up
so early on Sundays,” right? Can’t we have this
on Tuesday afternoon? -Yeah, and that’s
a really great question. -And why can’t I come
in my pajamas? -Well, you could.
You could come in your pajamas. -Oh, I could have?
I just did not get the memo. -Yeah, we should have put that
in the e-blast. -Now it’s time
for everyone’s favorite. We have
some attractive volunteers in the back with colorful boxes. This is the other part that makes
Sunday Assembly possible — the collection. -Wait, I’ve got more cash.
Here’s $2. It’s just like church. Is there a danger of something
like the Sunday Assembly becoming a religion in itself? -I think there could potentially
be a danger there because, you know, you’ve got people
who are coming here who — Maybe they’re just now
coming into what they identify as atheism. And then you also have people
who come here that are
really hard-lined atheist. How do you find
an experience here that’s pleasing
to all ends of that spectrum? ‘Cause
you can’t please everybody. You know, I think we kind of
have some growing pains still. We’re still trying
to kind of work it out. What’s it look like? -If you’re not doing anything
for lunch and you haven’t filled up
on pastries, we will be heading
over to the Cat & Fiddle on Sunset,
just west of Cahuenga. They’re expecting
a big group of us. It’s a lot of fun. So if you’ve got a little time,
that would be excellent. -So Sarah invited me
to the Cat & Fiddle after Sunday Assembly ’cause apparently it’s where all the secularists hang out
together and just talk
about science and assembly. So far,
it seems like Sunday Assembly is just like church
but without God. So let’s go drink
in the afternoon because no one’s watching. Hey!
-Hello! [ Chuckles ] You made it! You made it.
-How’s it going? -[ Chuckles ] -What do you normally do here? -Eat and drink. -Is this the cool table? -This is the cool table. -You are at the cool table. -Have you all been atheists
for many years? -Only about 53.
-53. And how old are you right now?
-53. -Sunday Assembly
is not an atheist organization. It’s a secular organization.
At least my understanding. And we want people
to feel comfortable there. -I looked around
at Christianity, looked around at all
the other things, and I thought, “Personally, I just thought that atheism
seemed the most logical to me.” -What made you guys decide
on the Cat & Fiddle for your post… -The founder of Sunday Assembly
from London — I had e-mailed him and said, “I’d love to get together
with you for a beer.” And we came here
to the Cat & Fiddle, and that was the beginning
of Sunday Assembly Los Angeles. And so we have come here
every single Sunday after the Assembly. -This is almost
what the equivalent of, like, a holy place would be.
[ Laughter ] -This is like
the pilgrimage to Mecca. -That’s right.
-Everybody here — Our largest crowd here at
the Cat & Fiddle is here today. -I’m gonna head out,
but thank you so much for sharing your story with me. And everybody’s been
so wonderful and welcoming. I really appreciate it.
-Can I give you a hug? -Hugs… So, I’ve had a really lovely day with a bunch of humanists
and atheists and secularists, whatever the difference is. What I’ve learned is
that whether you’re religious or believe in God or not, we’re all trying to figure out
this crazy life. And atheists are no different
just trying to find meaning and trying to provide service and help to others in need. And that’s universal, whether you believe in God
or not. So I would like to say to all my
atheist and secularist friends, “No one bless you, but you’re
awesome just the same.”

100 thoughts on “The Atheist Church | Have a Little Faith with Zach Anner

  • aint nothing wrong with waiting for evidence of something..ill wait for the day that i actually see proof of a high power with my own eyes. sadly i doubt all the answers we are looking for will ever surface but that gives us more of a reason to not waste time praising the sky and spend more time loving and helping each other to enjoy the time we have here.we can go in circles about what created the world but no matter what your religion is, the question of "who created the first thing in existence?", will always stand. kind of like what came first, the chicken or egg?what created god? what created the gasses for the big bang? lol thats why i say forget religion completely and just believe in each other. why does it matter who/what created the universe? religion is a problem, not a solution. it separates us and causes violence. we won't have a future for our kids if we continue to live with such separation. just like we shouldn't care about the color of someone's skin and just focus on them being a human being. we shouldn't care about religion.

  • People keep calling it a church but it really isn't. It's just a gathering where people who share common ideas can come together in a place of acceptance. It's more of a community like-minded people.

  • I am a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (for “evangelical”read = evangelische kirche = we are NOT evangelicals).  We are a “liberal” church meaning: (1) We accept evolution and have done so
    for at least a hundred years. (2) We love Bach. (3) We really love beer. (4) We never talk about heaven and certainly never talk about hell.   (5) We celebrate diversity (like you wouldn't believe).  (6) Our bishops and pastors not only sound exactly like this wonderful woman they even look like her.  Having said that, I have some pastoral observations I hope will be helpful:  When you talk about the problem of the “rotting in the grave part” try not to view the problem from the first person point of view.  For example, many Lutheran pastors (and bishops and professors in seminaries) say the identically same thing as this woman: “It makes me appreciate life more because I don’t think I’m going anywhere.”  From a purely
    pastoral point of view this way of expressing the matter is too self-centered.  For example, most parents
    are not very concerned about their own death but they are terrified of the notion that they might lose their child. So, saying, “I’m not going anywhere,” is first, very much like saying “You’re child is not going anywhere, either,” which is translated in the mind of a grieving mother into, “My child is rotting in the ground.” Now, the mother in my example is ostensibly atheist (because I am imagining she attends the atheist church) and so MAY believe in the “rotting in the ground thing,”but that is not necessarily so.  So, a much better approach would be not to assume you know what the mother believes about life after death but to say as this woman in video did later, “Who knows what comes after this life?” ok–just
    leave out the self-referencing part.  This is the way many pastors will approach this because we are very aware that a whole range of beliefs are out there and may not be linked to a God-concept at all (even in a Christian setting).My next comment is: Don’t forget the grieving father.  He is suffering just as much as the woman.  I say this from a pastoral point of view because as pastors (and atheist leaders) we have to be aware that grief
    is all too often viewed gynocentrically.  For example, I intentionally left out any reference to “father” in my paragraph above.  Of course, the atheist “leader” did not do this as it wasn't even part of the scenario…I am only trying to fend off a potential problem in the future.As a pastor of nearly twenty years, I have some predictions for the atheist church: (1) there will be
    massive splitting into denominations.  The politically atheist conservatives and politically atheist liberals will come apart.  Also, radical feminists who happen to attend an atheist church may demand an all-female denomination.  The conflict between feminist and anti-feminist atheists is already quite heated. 
    (2) Atheists will exhibit enormous differences in philosophical (anti-theological?) positions.  There will be a non-trivial contingent of atheists who will insist that there is some form of life beyond death (albeit without a God), that ghosts exists, that pyramids store psychic energy, that mediums and psychics should be listened to, etc., etc,etc.) and there will be other atheists who accept this and stay in communion and there
    will be other atheists (the “brights?”) who will angrily split off and start attacking other atheists online.  Already there are atheists who think an atheist church is a stupid idea  and aren’t shy in saying so.  (2) There will be heretics (for instance, some atheists will more than likely begin “honoring” past scientific
    figures.  These “honorers” will be accused of worshipping).  There are atheists known to me who absolutely reject evolution—will these be heretics?  (3)  There will be accusations from atheists and non-atheists that atheism is a state-supported religion since secularism is the accepted philosophy and
    practice of American law and public life.  (4) There will be an insistence that atheist beliefs be codified in some way.  Conflict will arise over whether this constitutes an atheist scripture.  (5) There will be huge conflicts over atheist liturgy (music, speaking, art, etc.).  Question: why does atheist church look so
    pentecostal?  Doesn’t have to be that way.  My predictions could go on and on and on.In other words, any organized church (even anti-church) is made up of amazing and wonderful people
    with wildly differing views and feelings.  This will have to be recognized and respected.Also, to any atheist “leader,” “pastor,” (sorry, don't know the term to use):  be wary of the highly committed person who wants to be “your friend”—they will be the first to turn on you and have you driven away from the “true” atheist church.  Do not treat your “parishioners” as friends.  Seek companionship from
    other atheist “leaders.”Finally, be very careful of what you say and to whom.  You are now a public figure.

  • I couldn't imagine going through life not believing in a higher power, BUT…I respect other people's opinions and won't judge them for doing their own thing.

  • THERE IS GOD…HE IS THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA….CHANGE YOUR MINDS ORELSE HELL IS ONLY PLACE WHERE FOR YOU ALL…GOD IS MERCIFUL…SAY SORRY AND COME BACK TO GOD

  • Honestly it feels like a religion to me with bits and pieces from different thing. There's the love for science. I think about scientology, unfortunately. Then there's the stuff about you yourself being the greatest being. That's like stolen from Satanism/Luciferianism.

    I get it though. Basically a hangout for people who don't believe, like myself. It would be an interesting thing to visit, but maybe not attend every week.

  • That looks terrible. Not to mention this "church" seems to have adopted elements from Christianity and isn't actually a pure Atheistic religion

  • Hurray for atheist churches. (Worth reading:  Hobbithabit's comment below)  If I were to lead an atheist/anti-theist learning center (occasionally calling it a "church" to maintain the sense of brotherhood and solidarity-in-purpose that the word church implies) I would encourage diverse opinions as opposed to being doctrinaire.  I think "sermons"/lectures/discussions of Spinoza/Paine/Ingersoll/etc. would be of great benefit. I would encourage the study of morals/ethics and open our doors to political/social/religious debates, sort of along the lines of the Intelligence Squared debates on youtube. (If you haven't watched any of those you're missing out!)  In my utopic vision, all churches would evolve into "free thought" churches… let the people still attend their favorite assembly on a weekly basis, and have potlucks, and kids activities, etc. as they do now.. just do away with the centuries-old superstitions of Gods and devils and whathaveyou. Traditional churches DO provide food kitchens/free laundry facilities/free clothing/etc. and that sort of outreach shouldn't go away. Let's discover the truth of all things together, whatever that truth may be, and move forward in peace and prosperity.

  • Aetheist Church and they they don't Church means to worship, a place of worship, house of God. Who are they worshipping? themselves? Maybe they call it Aetheist Celebrations, not Church, bec church are closely related to people who believes in something, God.

  • Aetheist Church and they they don't Church means to worship, a place of worship, house of God. Who are they worshipping? themselves? Maybe they call it Aetheist Celebrations, not Church, bec church are closely related to people who believes in something, God.

  • As someone who grew up going to church every Sunday I can see how someone who is areligious might want to create their own version of that. Religion aside, it does bring people together and helps you get to know one another and feel like a part of the larger community. This seems like a cool idea.

  • "I need evidence in the existence of some kind of supernatural deity" – Her definition of Atheism. Isn't she describing agnosticism, instead of atheism? Or am I wrong in thinking that?

    Secondly, looking at some of the comments, this is what I have to say: If we are to live in an autonomous society in which we all have our own beliefs, morals, etc, then don't get caught picking at someone elses' autonomy because the very moment you do, you violate your own autonomy by adapting to a heteronomous belief – and the second you do that, you open the possibility for someone to decide for you what to believe, strive for, and desire.

  • That Atheist Church, where they go to share their faith. How cute and ironic that they become more and more religious in their dogma every year. Looks like a new religion is becoming strong, and it's based on zero scientific data too.

  • i think this is nice, personally i find this weird (they couldnt go to reddit or sonething?) but its like going to a club on not recycleing. pretty weird why its main purpose is that but if it brings community and love i think thats what matter.

  • I'm not too bothered by an "atheist church". It's not exactly new. It's like half the posters here forgot about the Unitarian Universalists, or the Episcopal Church – which, aside from being latitudinarian, does have at least one atheist as a bishop.

  • "Atheism is the only logical religion." Religion isn't logical and requires to trust in the unknown and have faith. That's why religion is soo difficult for people.

  • I wonder why the most hateful comments about Atheism and Atheists get the most likes.
    On a video that is clearly meant as light satire about a so-called "Atheist church"…

  • Those people are actual atheists, which is nice to see, and it also shows that people like social clubs, with or without religion. A lot of satan worshippers use atheism as a cover, because technically they supposedly don't believe that satan or god actually exists. They go to black mass, on Sunday, usually, too. They're all sun worshippers, in that respect. ha. The SGI Buddhists act like Christians, another social club, basically.
    And some people consider themselves more spiritual than religious. I interpret that to mean they don't buy into the social club aspect of religion. I think that guy who said all atheists, or secularists or whatever, think that they only live once, was not really speaking for everyone. I've seen atheist preachers talk like him, and they do everything a religious preacher does.

  • i'm agnostic because i don't NEED a God to feel as if i have a purpose, or certain direction in my life. i can do that on my own, and leave a much greater impact than i ever would be able to with the belief in a God. even so, i will still be respectful to those who believe in a religion, with the wish that they will respect my beliefs, as well.

  • I really appreciate seeing secular people break the stereotype of pretentious atheists. The Assembly really seems like a nice place to be, and I'm a Christian!

  • Atheists are the most ungrateful creatures on the face of this earth.. They reject God who created them and gave them an earth to live on and gave their sustenance and everything.. They are also stupid because they think that everything just created by itself out of nowhere. For instance earth this amazing intricate earth just came from nothing..
    And they are stupid because they think we were just created for no purpose and we won't be getting recompensed for our good and evil actions..so there is no justice system also. I mean atheists have made their own desires and dumb mentality as their God. So they probably worship their own selves.. So when they started feeling lonely because they had no church or a place to gather they copy Christians by taking Sunday as their day to celebrate LIFE. lol
    I mean you celebrate the life that GOD gave you. Okay? How abnormal and miserable life must be! I mean put them in a crashing plane and see how they scream God for help.. And when they get saved it's probably because of their own miracle self and how great earth is that saves you.. I mean atheists think they are smart from learning science. But not knowing the basics makes them the most Dumbest people of all time.. I feel sad for atheists.. Poor innocent ignorant ones

  • My problem with being titled an atheist is that many times " as this evidences" , this actually substantiates church by being the antithesis of church. A lot of energy is wasted disputing something that atheists say they don't believe. I am an agnostic and personally very content with my life as an agnostic.

  • I've been wanting a secular church for such a long time! I'm athiest, but have been to church when I was younger because my parents were Christian. I LOVE the strong community, songs that are sung, bonding over a shared book, and (at the church I went to) everyone greeting each other and shaking hands even when they didn't know one another. I wish I had that community in my life, but being that I'm athiest I don't want to go to a Christian church since I feel out of place and awkward there. The athiests in the comments making fun of churches should get over themselves. Some athiests like churches. They can be helpful. You don't have to immediatley diss something because it has Christian roots. Don't create a divide between athiests.

  • I admire that the Sunday Assembly acknowledges that the religious community may have a greater sense of being in a community. As a Catholic, I’m happy to see human beings spending time and getting to know each other. But my catholic soul hurts to see individuals describe God as a being in the universe or claiming that it’s below reason (infra-rational) to believe in God.

  • I respect peoples beliefs if you dont believe in a god or you dont believe in my religion cool thats you you go be you I just wish I would get the sqme respect and understanding about 60% of athiests I meet tend to treat me badly becaus3 im a christian I'm not saying all athiests are like that but if someone has the curdosy to respect snd understamd your beliefs can you do the same kindly the worldmwould be a better place if we did so

  • Si la Iglesia nos quita tiempo, dinero y nos miente. ¿Para qué algunos ateos tienen que pretender que asisten a la Iglesia? No hay necesidad! Eso nos quita libertad que tenemos por ser ateos. La Iglesia sin dios es como la carne sin carne, hay vegetarianos que comen carne vegetariana. Pero ¿para qué pretender comer carne si ellos alegan que no es saludable? Así mismo pasa con la Iglesia sin dios. Si quieren socializar con personas que tienen algo en común lo pueden hacer como un club ó asociación. Pero no como Iglesia y tampoco imitando las costumbres de las iglesias.

  • They just made atheism lame lol.

    I think they're Christians in disguise, they know exactly how to scare atheists away from it; make it like church with some dull singing.

  • Atheists going to an atheists church sounds like vegetarian eating veggie burgers and veggie fries(love that Jim Gaffigan joke):D…jk I'm Catholic and thinks it looks very intriguing and glad they are having social gathering as I'm all for peopling coming together as a community:)

  • I'm Catholic but sometimes say "There is no God" like Zach when I run out of Ice Cream or nothing left to watch on Netflix's:D

  • Jukka Harlin my dear listen carefully the words I am transmitting too you! the words spoken by the good lord Jesus Christ I am the way the truth and the life! And the concrete and true foundation of our faith lies in the gift of the baptism in the name of the father and son and Holy Spirit! Which our lord partook! Too know Christ almighty there’s a secret of finding that truth which is him! You want to know there’s one way to do it it is to call his name and ask him to reveal himself too you so simple yet such a great challenge!

  • Dude this is so heart warming it just makes me feel like all people are the same and that the fact that we feel bad is sometimes not the thing to do because when we see people like this is just inspiring and will feel good about theses people instead of feeling bad cause these people are so so happy🙃🙃🙃

  • I think everyone has a right to believe in whatever ideology they choose as long as they are not hurting anyone else.

    Just as people complain about being approached by those trying to convert them to a specific religion, there is also the complaint about those that try to prove that a specific God or gods doesn’t exist. It’s totally ok to not believe in a religion. I just don’t see the point in trying to discredit or disprove what makes someone else feel better? If that person’s religious beliefs makes them happy, why try to discredit it? Not everyone does this, of course.

    Ultimately, none of us has all of the answers to life. We are all trying to just make it in this world. And while I am Christian, I am aware of the horrible things people have done in the name of religion (even though that particular religion doesn’t support those inhumane actions).

    And I love science and I believe in evolution. Let’s just live and let live.

  • Really does it matter? why don't non goblin believers have a church or non batman or any non fiction believers have a church. how dumb can this be?

  • Atheist do not exist…. only secular humanist. You either worship God or something else. The big difference between Christ's church and atheist church is that when Christ's chuirch splits it multiplies. When secular church splits its is gone. LOL! How did this go?????? LOL!

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