A Continuing Survey of New Groups, Movements, Events and People Impacting Religion
01: The Sunday Assembly is the most recent effort to form an atheist “church,” providing a sense of community and secular spirituality for non-religious people.
The assembly, founded by British stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, started as a series of services in London where preaching and testimonies were put to the service of sustaining and promoting atheism, appealing to an increasingly unaffiliated British population. Jones and Evans take issue with the cerebral approach of most atheist and humanist groups and argue that secularist gatherings can have the same emotional and experiential appeal as religious congregations. Those attending the services will hear about the importance of celebrating life and sing along to “hymns” from the Beetles and Fleetwood Mack.
The Sunday Assembly’s attendance in London has grown to over 600 since last spring and has led to several offshoot groups, such as a book club and a discussion group. Sanderson and Evans have sought to export the gatherings to the rest of the UK as well as the U.S., Canada, and Australia. There is already an assembly in New York, with close to 200 attending, and in October the duo engaged in a “40 Dates and 40 Nights” tour to expand Sunday Assembly churches across the globe. The assemblies plan to conduct such rites of passage as weddings and funerals. (Source : World Religion and Spirituality Project, http://www.has.vcu.edu/wrs/profiles/SundayAssembly.htm)
02: Although recent reports have suggested a new surge of activism and sympathy among American evangelicals for liberal reform of immigration, the recent formation of the Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration suggest they are divided on the issue. The group, led by Kelly Kullberg, argues that taking care of one’s own citizens should take precedence over liberal acceptance of immigrants.
The organization has sought to counter the U.S. Senate immigration bill that passed the upper chamber in late June, viewing it as granting blanket amnesty to illegal immigrants. Kullberg wrote in a letter to Congress expressing the group’s aims, which was signed by more than 1,000 evangelicals. In September, Kullberg sent another letter to members of the House of Representatives, outlining that a biblical approach to immigration reform would mean considering Americans first, securing the borders to keep out criminals, and making sure unemployed Americans have access to job opportunities by mandating use of E-verify.
(Source: Time, Oct. 22)