Church without religion? The Sunday Assembly asks you to leave your faith at the door

The Sunday Assembly welcomes all, but asks you to leave your religion at the door.
Photo: Bill Hughes
Jason Harris

Sunday morning. Eleven a.m. Normally, I’d be watching football, but today I’m at the Spring Valley Library for a church-like ceremony that involves no religion. Believe me, I’m as surprised as anyone.

The Sunday Assembly, which welcomes all but asks you to leave your religion at the door, is having its second Las Vegas chapter gathering. Altogether, there are about 20 people including organizers, new participants and children.

The organization, whose motto is, “Live better, help often, wonder more.” was founded in January 2013 by British stand-up comics Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans. In one speech, Jones states, “What you have to understand is that the word ‘church’ to most atheists is like ‘concentration camp’ to most Jewish people.” One thing you don’t have to wonder more about is why you’ve never heard of Jones’ stand-up career. The Vegas chapter doesn’t yet have a permanent home but hopes for something in central Las Vegas. In the meantime, they’re bouncing around until their official grand opening in January at the Jewel Box Theater at the Clark County Library.

The theme for this week is community. This seems to be the constant theme of the group. Andy, a new member who found out about the jamboree online earlier in the morning, tells me afterward, “There’s something great about fellowship and there’s no construct for it outside of religion. I want a community.”

The hour-long service features three all-attendees-inclusive karaoke songs—the theme song from Cheers, “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen and Fun.’s “We Are Young.” Organizer Kevin speaks about one of the fathers of British geology and how hard it was for him to find an accepting community. Organizer Gil preaches about the Maasai tribe of Africa and their sense of community. There’s a poem, a moment of reflection and tea and cake.

As it ends, the jovial group seems to have found some new sense of community. Meanwhile, I run out and check the score of the NFL games on my phone.

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