An article in the UK Telegraph alerted us to the curious “Sunday Assembly” godless church movement. Although the idea was originally hatched by some comedians (literally-speaking) in London, the article focuses on a congregation in the somewhat unlikely locale of Nashville, Tennessee. (On the other hand, perhaps it’s not so surprising that atheists in that part of the country would want to network and find some reassurance in numbers.)
The idea of Sunday Assembly is to offer “a church experience but without the ‘God part.'” A member of the congregation named Adam Newton puts it this way:
The idea is why not steal all the good bits about church – the music, the fellowship, the community work – and lose the God stuff. Luther said: “Why should the Devil have all the good tunes?” We kind of feel that way about the church.
(I’m fairly sure it wasn’t Martin Luther who coined that quoted expression, but no matter.)
Speaking as someone who is actually not opposed to some God stuff, I think one nevertheless has to resist the temptation to be gratuitously mean towards what is ultimately a harmless and hopelessly-doomed enterprise. But one obvious question must be posed: Why would atheists, who necessarily believe that believers in God are deluded, want to copy their behavior? Why get together just like the deluded ones and adopt their habits, even imitating in certain respects some of their rituals and practices? It would seem to be conceding that the deluded ones are on to something very good. And that seems like a rather irrational basis for proceeding, especially for people who are firm believers in rationality above all else.
Do they not understand that the reason people starting getting together in the first place, singing inspiring music, sharing fellowship and volunteering to help others was that they believed in a good and just God, and one who desired that they act in this way?
Further, they really should try to understand that if everyone ceased being (allegedly) deluded, and belief in God became truly just a fossil of the past, then there would no longer exist any example of believers coming together to honor their God and to endeavor to carry out his will, and then there would be no one left to imitate. The pointlessness of all such shenanigans in the absence of any belief in a divine eternity and in infinite goodness would lead to the final end of Sunday assemblies, or any similar events.
And then, I guess you could say, the Devil really would have all the good tunes.