Atheist ‘mega-churches’ take root across US, world

first_img Share FaithInternationalLifestylePrint Atheist ‘mega-churches’ take root across US, world by: – November 11, 2013 Share Sharing is caring! Sharecenter_img Tweet Attendees sing a song at the Sunday Assembly in Los Angeles on Sunday, a godless congregation founded by British comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans. (Photo: AP)LOS ANGELES, United States (AP) — It looked like a typical Sunday morning at any mega-church. Several hundred people, including families with small children, packed in for more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational talk and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was God.Nearly three dozen gatherings dubbed “atheist mega-churches” by supporters and detractors have sprung up around the US and Australia — with more to come — after finding success in Great Britain earlier this year. The movement fuelled by social media and spearheaded by two prominent British comedians is no joke.On Sunday, the inaugural Sunday Assembly in Los Angeles, attracted several hundred people bound by their belief in non-belief. Similar gatherings in San Diego, Nashville, New York and other US cities have drawn hundreds of atheists seeking the camaraderie of a congregation without religion or ritual.The founders, British duo Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans, are currently on a tongue-in-cheek “40 Dates, 40 Nights” tour around the US and Australia to drum up donations and help launch new Sunday Assemblies. They hope to raise more than US$800,000 that will help atheists launch their pop-up congregations around the world. So far, they have raised about $50,000.They don’t bash believers but want to find a new way to meet like-minded people, engage in the community and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith.Jones got the first inkling for the idea while leaving a Christmas carol concert six years ago.“There was so much about it that I loved, but it’s a shame because at the heart of it, it’s something I don’t believe in,” Jones said. “If you think about church, there’s very little that’s bad. It’s singing awesome songs, hearing interesting talks, thinking about improving yourself and helping other people — and doing that in a community with wonderful relationships. What part of that is not to like?”The movement dovetails with new studies that show an increasing number of Americans are drifting from any religious affiliation.The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released a study last year that found 20 per cent of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15 per cent in the last five years. Pew researchers stressed, however, that the category also encompassed majorities of people who said they believed in God but had no ties with organised religion and people who consider themselves “spiritual” but not “religious”.Sunday Assembly — whose motto is Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More — taps into that universe of people who left their faith but now miss the community church provided, said Phil Zuckerman, a professor of secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont.It also plays into a feeling among some atheists that they should make themselves more visible. For example, last December, an atheist in Santa Monica created an uproar — and triggered a lawsuit — when he set up a godless display amid Christian nativity scenes that were part of a beloved, decades-old tradition.“In the US, there’s a little bit of a feeling that if you’re not religious, you’re not patriotic. I think a lot of secular people say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. We are charitable, we are good people, we’re good parents and we are just as good citizens as you and we’re going to start a church to prove it,” said Zuckerman. “It’s still a minority, but there’s enough of them now.”That impulse, however, has raised the ire of those who have spent years pushing back against the idea that atheism itself is a religion.“The idea that you’re building an entire organisation based on what you don’t believe, to me, sounds like an offence against sensibility,” said Michael Luciano, a self-described atheist who was raised Roman Catholic but left when he became disillusioned.“There’s something not OK with appropriating all of this religious language, imagery and ritual for atheism,” said Luciano, who blogged about the movement at the site policymic.com.That sentiment didn’t seem to detract from the excitement Sunday at the inaugural meeting in Los Angeles.Hundreds of atheists and atheist-curious packed into a Hollywood auditorium for a boisterous service filled with live music, moments of reflection, an “inspirational talk” about forgotten — but important — inventors and scientists and some stand-up comedy.During the service, attendees stomped their feet, clapped their hands and cheered as Jones and Evans led the group through rousing renditions of ‘Lean on Me’, ‘Here Comes the Sun’ and other hits that took the place of gospel songs. Congregants dissolved into laughter at a get-to-know-you game that involved clapping and slapping the hands of the person next to them and applauded as members of the audience spoke about community service projects they had started in LA.At the end, volunteers passed cardboard boxes for donations as attendees mingled over coffee and pastries and children played on the floor.For atheist Elijah Senn, the morning was perfect.“I think the image that we have put forward in a lot of ways has been a scary, mean, we want to tear down the walls, we want to do destructive things kind of image is what a lot of people have of us,” he said. “I’m really excited to be able to come together and show that it’s not about destruction. It’s about making things and making things better.”Associated Press 58 Views   no discussionslast_img read more

Lady Eagles Fall To Lady Patriots In Class 1A Semi-States At Richmond

first_imgThe Jac-Cen-Del Lady Eagles basketball season comes to an end with a 50-40 loss to The Vincennes Lady Patriots 50-40 in The Class 1A Semi-States Southern Bracket at Richmond.The #8 Lady Eagles were leading for most of the game including 25-20 at Halftime and 36-30 at the end of the 3rd Quarter .  However, The #4 Patriots took control of the 4th Quarter and outscored JCD 20-4 to secure a spot in next weeks 1A State Championship Game at Terre Haute.VR will be making their 5th appearance in the 1A Title Game.  They won The Crown three years ago.  They defeated JCD 53-38 in The Semi-States at Bedford North Lawrence that same year.  The Lady Patriots (22-4) will battle The #1 Oregon-Davis Lady Bobcats (22-2) for The 1A Championship.  O-D defeated The #7 Lafayette Central Catholic Lady Knights (19-6) 67-46 at The Crown Point Semi-States.JCD Senior Sydney Keene led the way with 27 points for Coach Scott Smith’s Crew.  The Lady Eagles finish the 2013-14 campaign at 19-4.Congrats to The Jac-Cen-Del Lady Eagles on a fantastic season!  We are very proud of you!   From The Sports Voice-Country 103.9 WRBI!last_img read more

Cardinals And Bengals Basketball Results

first_imgThe St. Louis Cardinals 5th grade boys basketball team played their 5th game of the season tonight and were defeated by Greendale by a score of 28-21.The team was led in scoring by Alec Bunselmeier (10),Charlie Schebler (5), Conner Ertel (4), and Luke Meyer (2). Frank Forbeck, Luke Meer, Aiden Geers, Nate Vankirk, and Cy Muckerheide played outstanding defense!The next game will be next Monday night, November 23, at against St. Lawrence in Lawrenceburg at 5:30pm.Courtesy of Cardinals Coach Ryan Schebler.The St. Louis 6th grade boys basketball team came away with another winagainst Greendale Middle School after back to back nights on the hardwood 35-32.A close game that saw many lead changes and a defensive and free throw shooting duel down the stretch. Abe Streator led the offense for the team that had 6 players in the scoring column. Clutch rebounding and exploiting opportunities at the free throw line kept the Cardinals in the lead when time finally expired. A good all round game byLuke Wilson along with disrupting the Tiger offense with their defensive pressure was Ryan Reeder and Cayden Pohlman.Courtesy of Cardinals Coach Jim Mohr.last_img read more

No. 1 Nittany Lions pay visit

first_imgKRIS UGARRIZA/Herald photoWhen ESPN comes to town for a volleyball game, you know something big is bound to happen.This is the case this weekend when No. 21 Badgers return home to face No. 1 Penn State on Friday night, followed by Indiana on Sunday.The Badgers are coming off another disappointing weekend. They lost to Purdue in five sets last Friday and were swept by then-No. 17 Illinois in Champaign Sunday. This was the second weekend they were swept on the road, with the first time coming against Iowa and Minnesota at the end of September.“We had a really good week of practice last week, but we weren’t focused when it came time to play in our match,” senior captain Audra Jeffers said. “So now we have been doing a lot of game-like situations in practice and have been focusing in on getting those points when it comes time to play. The team is really focused.”Since getting back to work this week, the team has been worrying more about what is happening on its side of the net rather than spending as much time concentrating on the opponent. Wisconsin head coach Pete Waite believes his team needs to take care of its own needs before worrying about the opposition.“It doesn’t matter what they are bringing at you if you are making errors on your own side,” Waite said.On Friday, the Badgers welcome the Nittany Lions to the Field House where the two teams went to a five-game nail-biter last year.This year, Penn State comes into the court having not lost a game, let alone a set in the 2008 season. The team is 20-0 for the year with an 8-0 record in conference. Over that time period, it has won 60 straight sets, including 61 straight sets dating back to last year’s NCAA Championship.The Nittany Lions are led by senior middle blocker Christa Harmotto, who leads the Big Ten and nation in hitting percentage, averaging .512 while racking up 147 kills. Junior setter Alicia Glass also leads the Big Ten in assists, averaging 12. 33 per game. Overall, the team has the top-ranked offense in the conference and one of the best in the nation.“Penn State is No. 1 and nobody thinks we can beat them,” Waite said. “We are going to go after them.”To stop Penn State, Waite said the team has been working on its serves and its blocking in an effort to slow down or disrupt the Nittany Lions’ high-powered offense.“I think this week we are focusing more on us, on our game,” senior outside hitter Morgan Salow said. “Blocking wise, [we want to get] up earlier and faster. Just being ready at all times, 100 percent.”On Sunday, the Badgers will face Indiana, which finds itself ninth in the conference with an 8-4 overall record and 2-6 in Big Ten Play.The Hoosiers are led by senior middle blocker Erica Short, who leads the Big Ten in kills with 4.78 per set and in points, averaging 5.39 per set. The Badgers will also have to worry about sophomore middle blocker Ashley Benson on defense, who averages 1.52 blocks per game.For the Badgers, look for junior outside hitter Brittney Dolgner to continue to have an increased role in the offense. Last weekend, Dolgner came out of her slump to hit for 22 kills against Purdue and had 10 kills against Illinois.The Badgers, who are ranked No. 21 in the country in the AVCA Poll, are keeping a high morale going into a difficult weekend. They believe each match is a step forward in a learning experience and gets them one step closer to the NCAA Tournament. “We are really hungry,” Salow said. “This weekend was tough for us, and I think this week we are really buckling down and working on things we saw … last week. I think we are really hungry to take that step forward rather than backward and keep moving on.”last_img read more

Peter Dearth is bringing back the two-way midfielder at SU

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Virginia’s Michael Kraus watched from the ground as Peter Dearth raced up the field. After SU defender Nick Mellen forced a Kraus turnover, Dearth scooped the ground ball and led transition for SU. As Dearth quickly advanced closer and closer to the net, no UVA defenders slid over. On the run from 10-yards out, Dearth fired a shot past Virginia goalie Alex Rode to open the scoring in the first round of the ACC tournament semifinal.“I haven’t scored very much this year, so I figured they wouldn’t respect me as a shooter,” Dearth said. “I just kind of took it right at it and was able to get close enough to get a good shot.”Dearth’s second goal of the season provided an early boost for SU. Despite Syracuse’s eventual loss, Dearth has emerged as a key two-way midfielder for the No. 8-seeded Orange (8-6, 4-0 Atlantic Coast) heading into the NCAA tournament.“We’ve been searching for those guys who are going to step up at the short-stick position,” Desko said. “Dearth fills in well with his spots.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThere were high expectations for Dearth when the season began. He opened the 2018 campaign on the first midfield line alongside Jamie Trimboli and Tucker Dordevic, but he was replaced by freshman Brendan Curry after SU’s loss to Johns Hopkins. Through five games, Dearth had three assists and no goals on eight shots.As other players continued to rise up the depth chart on the offensive midfield, Dearth continued to drop. In response, Dearth said he asked Syracuse head coach John Desko if he could play more short-stick defense, the position he played all of last year despite enrolling at SU as an offensive midfielder.“I thought (defense) suited me physically and athletically better,” Dearth said. “It’s been easier for me to be confident when I’m playing.”Dearth has also seen an increased role on the faceoff wing. Against North Carolina, Dearth scooped three ground balls and relentlessly slapped UNC sticks away from them, leading to Desko praising Dearth’s play in the post-game press conference following the 13-12 home win.“Peter Dearth was excellent on the wing today,” Desko said following the game. “He did a great job.”Dearth gives SU a multi-faceted weapon on the wings, Desko said. It means that Syracuse does not have to use two poles on faceoffs, and should SU lose the faceoffs, Dearth is a “fairly strong defensive midfielder,” who can stay on the field.Dearth also provides the faceoff unit an added boost offensively as the recipient of faceoff specialist Danny Varello’s passes, and by cleaning up ground balls, which lead to fast breaks.“He came in as an offensive middie with an offensive mindset,” Mellen said. “He knows what to do with the ball probably a little bit more than most.”While some defensive midfielders on Syracuse obtain possession and immediately look to an offensive outlet, Dearth carries a scorer’s mindset. He first showed this against Duke when he forced a Blue Devils turnover.  He then sprinted into the middle of the field, 15 yards away from Duke goalie Danny Fowler, before shooting off a crow-hop and bouncing it past the right side of Fowler for his first goal of the year.That goal handed SU an early advantage against the Blue Devils, something it needed to stay in the game and eventually pull off the team’s biggest win of the season. When he found himself in a similar situation against UVA, he provided the same result.“It was something that I’ve always dreamed of,” Dearth said, “playing a night game at Klockner and scoring the first goal.”Earlier in the season, when Dearth struggled offensively and was booted from the first midfield line, he might not have had the confidence he does now to take that shot, he said. With the NCAA tournament less than a week away, SU will rely on him to continue to make those types of plays. Comments Published on May 8, 2018 at 9:29 pm Contact Matt: mdliberm@syr.edulast_img read more

Syracuse finishes fall rowing season at Cornell Fall Classic

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ ITHACA – While on water, Jakob Anderson doesn’t hear anything other than the swooshing sound of his and his teammates’ oars hitting the water. Yet on land, the Cayuga Lake Inlet exploded with noise.As screaming parents and fans cheered on the seven teams competing Saturday from the shoreline, referees called out instructions on megaphones from their own nearby boats and each boat’s coxswain shouted commands from the sterns of their own boats.From the shoreline, the sound of the rowers’ oars slapping the water can still be heard above the rushing wind and cheering crowd.“You don’t hear much,” senior Andrew Cummings said. “It’s mostly sights.”Syracuse men’s and women’s rowing concluded its fall racing season in the Cornell Autumn Classic on Saturday in Ithaca. The Orange’s competitive championship season isn’t until the spring, but they’ve had three tune-up events to compete with other schools and find their best lineup. The women’s and men’s teams won four of the six races they each raced in. Syracuse now heads into the winter season to prepare for next May’s ACC and NCAA Championships and other meets.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I think I was just happy to see a sea of orange jerseys out there that were all racing hard and representing us well,” men’s assistant coach Jason Elefant said. “Results today were overwhelmingly positive, but we can’t let that be the end-all of the season. So, the biggest thing is just getting back to work and having good quality practices from now until the spring.”Molly Gibbs | Senior Staff PhotographerThe Orange women’s team, who finished second in the ACC in 2017 and 2018, and third in 2019, usually practice on Onondaga Lake early in the morning or in the afternoon. The women compete in the NCAA, while the men are in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association.Women’s coach Luke McGee said the priority on Saturday wasn’t necessarily the results, but to focus on the four races — which feature four rowers and a coxswain — and build internal competitiveness.McGee said the team has been mixing the boats up during practice after a couple of weeks when they were separated into top lineups. McGee added that the Orange “didn’t have a chance to row the lineups” until Saturday’s race.On Saturday, in the second flight of the women’s W8+ race, Syracuse’s B team finished ahead of the A team, and second overall with a 9:57.6 time, two tenths of a second faster than the A team in third.“I think it’s easier in these longer races to fall into a slump,” sophomore Ellen Pozzi said.The men’s varsity fours boat placed first in their 3k race, finishing with a time of 9:18.3. The men’s B, C and D teams finished third, fourth and fifth in the same race. Later, the Orange’s four-man boats also took the top four places in the 300m sprint.“There’s so much training that’s done kind of away from it all,” McGee said, “so it’s actually really exciting and fun to have a chance to go out and have some other people kind of watch what you’re doing and there to support you.”Molly Gibbs | Senior Staff PhotographerAnderson said that including structured time trials every Wednesday in practice has helped the team build a competitive mindset with one another. It provides a chance for the team, especially the freshmen, to get closer to moving up into the A group earlier on in the season.Last year, Anderson said the team lacked “internal racing mentality” until late in the season, and the simulated races have helped prevent that this season.In the second flight, the men’s V8+ A team placed first with a time of 8:26.3. The men’s V8+ A and B units then took the top two spots in the 300m sprint. Syracuse’s A team finished in 48.3 seconds, and the B team finished in 49.2 seconds.The women’s V4+ A boat comprised of four racers and a coxswain finished first in the 3k in the spring, while the eight-person varsity boat also won both the long and short-distance competitions.As opposed to the Orange’s last competition in Boston in the 2019 Head of the Charles Regatta, the Orange focused more on speed than steering. The Head of the Charles race was three miles in length and required heavier steering to maneuver the boats along the river’s course, while Saturday was less than two miles and straight.“This is a fairly drama free course and more a test of speed than steering skills,” Elefant said. “It gave the guys a chance to really just lay it out there over a shorter distance which was good.”Molly Gibbs | Senior Staff PhotographerSyracuse has now tested itself in short and long distance, on straight and winding paths. Now, Elefant said it’s open to the individuals to improve their fitness through the winter.He said preparation for the spring season is heavily dependent on how much work the men decide to do individually while they’re away from the team over the winter holiday. The men’s team will also prepare for the spring season through training camps and put in miles on the machines indoors.“It’s going to be you and the machine and you’re trying to get personal bests,” McGee said. “But at the same point, it’s also trying to push that person next to you.”While each person is individually competing with one another to get stronger and improve their form for the spots in the best boats, Cummings said that the sport’s team element has drawn him in.“Not only perfecting your technique, but getting eight guys to row perfectly synchronized,” Cummings said. “Just perfecting your art.” Comments Published on November 4, 2019 at 1:24 amlast_img read more

Racing action in Thurles

first_imgThere’s a 7 race card at Thurles today with the going described as heavy.The feature is the 3.35 Handicap Hurdle with over €10,000 in prize money up for grabs.The recent passing of the owner/manager Pierce Molony is likely to be marked at the start of today meet.last_img

Za’Darius Smith sends heartfelt message to sick mother of equipment staffer after sack

first_imgLast Updated: 25th November, 2019 23:54 IST Za’Darius Smith Sends Heartfelt Message To Sick Mother Of Equipment Staffer After Sack Green Bay Packers’ Za’Darius Smith had a heartfelt message for Eileen, who is battling cancer; Eileen is the mother of an equipment staffer at the Packers Also Read: Manu Bhaker At 17: Breaking World Records, Winning Gold Medals And Gunning For GloryNFL: Za’Darius Smith’s heartfelt message for EileenEileen is the mother of the Packers’ equipment staff. She is currently battling cancer and Smith planned to celebrate the message if he got the sack. Considering his recent form, it was a no brainer that he’ll actually get the sack. Za’Darius Smith was tied for 7th highest sacks in the NFL with 8.5 before Sunday.Lily Zhao of WFRV-TV in Green Bay tweeted before the game that Smith was wearing an undershirt to honour Eileen. Eileen is a big fan of the outside linebacker. He tweeted that it’s an honour of someone suffering from breast cancer considering the familiar pink ribbon. Also Read: Russian Athletics Officials Suspended Over Anti-doping ViolationsZa’Darius Smith: I hope Eileen gets the messageZa’Darius Smith has been in fine form for the NFL’s Green Bay Packers. The 27-year-old has registered 9.5 sacks this season since signing a four-deal worth $66 million in March. The former Baltimore Ravens player had plotted the idea of celebration with his assistant. Smith was quoted saying on the Packers website, “Emotional, emotional story for me,” Smith said. “I was like, ‘Man, we should do something for her because she’s a big fan.’ We came up with the idea to do the shirt and I was like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I do that as my next sack celebration?’ So I did that for her tonight. … I hope she gets that message.”Also Read: Deontay Wilder Brags About Being The Hardest Hitting Puncher In Boxing History Sreehari Menon COMMENT Written By FOLLOW UScenter_img WATCH US LIVE First Published: 25th November, 2019 23:54 IST SUBSCRIBE TO US LIVE TV Green Bay Packer’s Za’Darius Smith celebrated in a unique way on Sunday. Smith revealed a message under his T-shirt after winning his first sack against San Francisco 49ers. The T-shirt had ‘We love Eileen’ written on it. After brushing aside 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo early in the second quarter, Za’Darius Smith walked to the end zone and revealed the message.Also Read: No. 2 Ohio State Tested But Tops No. 9 Penn State 28-17NFL: Za’Darius Smith’s “We Love Eileen” celebrationlast_img read more