REFUSING MY RELIGION to speak and cover first ever ‘Sunday Assembly’ in the U.S.

NYC’s First Sunday Assembly – June 30 at 12:30 – In A Bikini Bar

The idea of a “Sunday Assembly” is not entirely novel.  Atheist or godless congregations have been springing up around America and Canada for a few years now.  Mike Aus, a member of The Clergy Project, spearheaded Houston Oasis – a Sunday morning “service for nonbelievers” after leaving a 20-year career in ministry.  Gretta Vosper told her congregation in Ontario she didn’t believe in God or the fundamental tenets of Christianity, and her church’s board supported her and much of the flock happily went along.  So, this is already happening.  What’s novel is the modified concept of British comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, who started London’s Sunday Assembly in early 2013.  They’re now trying to get them started in America.  Executive Director of The Clergy Project Catherine Dunphy contacted us in April to put us in touch with Sanderson, who needed help launching a Sunday Assembly in New York City.

What we learned in traveling much of the country conducting interviews for the film was that many people who’ve left religion say that the thing they miss most is the “sense of community” that church formerly provided them.  Now, whether this will prove applicable or appealing to NYC’s notoriously sophisticated, somewhat hip, and truly diverse residents is yet to be seen.  It does seem though that there is benefit from growing a secular community.  So, toward that end, we will be participating in NYC’s first ever Sunday Assembly.  We will be showing a brief clip of REFUSING MY RELIGION and speaking to the “congregation” about our experiences making the film.  There will also be a live band doing fun sing-alongs to rock tunes you know and probably love, as well as engaging speakers plus the opportunity to meet some other nice godless NYC folks.

Oh, and did we say that the first Sunday Assembly is taking place in a bikini bar?  Yup, it is.  Finding a venue and arranging speakers and musicians and doing outreach has been no simple feat in the past few weeks, so one of the organizers came across Tobacco Road and it just happened to have everything needed to accommodate NYC’s first Sunday Assembly, including scantily clad bartenders.  Not insensitive the “family-friendly” nature of its originators’ concept to include children, the bar has offered to have its employees “cover up a bit” for the event.  SA is still considering whether that might be necessary.  What’s really most appealing about the space is that there is a back room where bands perform, complete with stage, drum kit and amplifiers for a potentially rocking good time.  Whether SA continues to do it depends on several factors, not the least of which is the venue’s future availability on Sundays.

In any case, the first Sunday Assembly is taking place at 12:30 p.m. on June 30th in Tobacco Road, 355 W. 41st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan.  The NY Daily News and The Gothamist have already covered the story.  And the Daily News is sending another reporter back to cover the event.  Should be fun.  A NYC godless congregation hosted by an English comedian in a bikini bar?  What’s not exciting about that?

To learn more about the Sunday Assembly visit them here: http://sundayassembly.com

NYC Press about this event:

NY Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/british-atheist-group-host-sermon-city-dive-bar-article-1.1373821

The Gothamist: http://gothamist.com/2013/06/16/british_atheist_group_to_preach_at.php

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3 thoughts on “REFUSING MY RELIGION to speak and cover first ever ‘Sunday Assembly’ in the U.S.

    • You are not alone in this sentiment. Steven Pinker agrees with you D.E. Cantor. He talked about exactly that in a panel discussion we were invited to and documented along with Greg Epstein up at Harvard last Spring. Pinker said he would opt for another bagel and the N.Y. Times Sunday edition on his day’s off.

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