Atheist Church in Mass. Focuses on Community, Not God

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A "church" meets in Cambridge, Massachusetts every Sunday morning where a few dozen attenders listen to a speech about the importance of compassion and community.

A “church” meets in Cambridge, Massachusetts every Sunday morning where a few dozen attenders listen to a speech about the importance of compassion and community. This “congregation” is a meeting of the Humanist Community at Harvard University, the idea of Greg Epstein, a humanist chaplain. Epstein’s plan is to glean the good aspects of church and apply them to his gathering.

“We decided recently that we want to use the word ‘congregation’ more and more often because that is a word that strongly evokes a certain kind of community — a really close knit, strong community that can make strong change happen in the world,” he said. “It doesn’t require and it doesn’t even imply a specific set of beliefs about anything.”

Even kids are invited to a meeting of their own, where an MIT biologist teaches them about evolution, DNA and cell biology.

By formalizing meetings and building a strong community, the Harvard group hopes it can be a model for other atheist congregations forming around the country. “Being an atheist is something we want people to come out and be,” said the Humanist chaplain. “There are so many people, probably millions, who are humanists or atheists or nonreligious in private and nobody knows.”

Starting in the fall, the Humanist Community at Harvard will begin meeting in a nearly 3,000-square-foot community center with an event space for nearly 100 people.

“Our community is like a work of art,” he said. “Hopefully people will respond to that work of art and it will garner controversy and discussion like a work of art.”

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  • Ryan

    Well, everyone has to waste their time doing something.

  • Peter Mahoney

    Not too far off the mark of some churches today. The emphasis on “community” has diluted some to the real purpose of the church… reaching the lost for Christ. If all we want is to be connect to a strong community (a support group) to laugh and cry with in the ups and downs of life, we don’t need Jesus to do that.

    At least for me this is yet another reminder that the Church of Jesus Christ needs to be completely and totally committed to the mission Jesus gave us.

    • amos8

      I was thinking the same thing when I saw the title of the article, and the article itself. There is very little difference with the goal of many churches today (especially the “emerging church”); they don’t want “missionaries” (because they come with a message of sin, repentance, forgiveness, personal responsibility before a holy God, etc), they want people to be “missional” (where we hang out in “community” … and somehow hope people are helped .. by whatever standard … which has morphed into the political standard/ideology of “social justice” (e.g. redistribution of money).

  • deandeguara

    “It doesn’t require and it doesn’t even imply a specific set of beliefs about anything.” Sounds meaningful to me???

  • David

    Romans tells us (Verse’s Below) that there are not such belief as atheism. For the Bible tells us that God has reveled Himself to all so that none are without and excuse. So they are just suppressing God and the Truth, which ultimately results in rejecting God. We need to pray for these people and for their meetings that they find and receive Christ.

    Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,

    Rom 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

    Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

    Rom 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    Rom 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

    Rom 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

  • Teretha Thornton

    This is both funny and sad. The Word tells me that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. My prayers go up for those children who are being indoctrinated with foolishness. In Jesus Name

  • Ross

    Listen again to what Jesus commanded. And Reread the letters to the seven churches. You may have forgotten your first love, you may have faith without works, you may have a reputation of being alive but are dead, you may have conformed to the pattern of the world and lost your way. Do not be dissuaded from reaching the lost for Christ. Firm up your resolve to Go. Go. Be messengers, send messengers. Be living sacrifices, live as unto the Lord. The world has no excuse for not knowing God exists. Christians have no excuse for not learning what God’s will is.

  • ankh

    i dont approve of them teaching children about evolution, we are not evolved we were created. by me being a nubian, i believe the atheist are just another group looking for guidance. christianity isnt the way either, alot of christian churches try to teach scriptures from the bible without looking for the truth in it. nubians didnt have christianity we werent pagans either but we didnt need a book of rules to tell us how to live. i think we all have common sense not to kill and steal and honor thy mother and father. i believe in a god and he had a son but the story got so twisted over the years that everyone worships jesus as the god figure now. smh