The rise and fall of nonreligious churches. When will someone try to set up a mosque equivalent?
Secular congregations such as Sunday Assembly and Oasis—a similar group started in 2012—seek to offer a solution. Both were founded by faithless seekers hoping to carry on certain aspects of religious life: the community, the moral deliberation, and the rich sense of wonder. When they were growing so rapidly in their early years, these congregations were heavily covered by media outlets. “The Hot New Atheist Church,” gushed a 2013 Daily Beast headline about Sunday Assembly.https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/secular-churches-rethink-their-sales-pitch/594109/
HuffPost noted that the number of assemblies had doubled in a single weekend in 2014.
But even as the growth of “nones” has revved up in the intervening years, the growth of secular congregations hasn’t kept pace. After a promising start, attendance declined, and nearly half the chapters have fizzled out—including the New York one that Walford joined. Building a durable community of nonbelievers, it turns out, is more complicated than just excising God.