Studying the Sunday Assembly through a post-Christian lens

Bullock, Josh (2017) Studying the Sunday Assembly through a post-Christian lens. In: On the Edge? Centres and Margins in the Sociology of Religion; 12 -14 Jul 2017, Leeds, U.K.. (Unpublished)


My research follows the Sunday Assembly (SA), a secular (godless) congregation that celebrates life, with the motto: “live better, help often and wonder more.’’ The Sunday Assembly entered the non-religious market place in January 2013 with their flagship London congregation. Now, over 70-franchised chapters exist in eight countries, attempting to provide belonging, community, and secular-enchantment to the religiously unaffiliated market. I draw upon a 15-month ethnographic study of the London SA and 35 semi-structured interviews to better understand lived non-religion. The central question addressed in this paper is: what does the growth of the Sunday Assembly as a secular community tell us about the relationship between religion and secularisation? To answer this question a novel framework has been developed to study the SA through a post-Christian lens. I present the argument that the SA is a visible and notable display of an element of post-Christian culture. This current transitional phase from Christian to non-religion has harboured ideal conditions for the SA to take flight as an idea and organisation. Therefore, with their current structure the SA will seemingly only find success in societies that have transitioned or are in this process. This paper offers findings in two ways. Firstly, I unpack the demographics of an ‘Assemblier’ through an ideal type and detail their motivations for attending. Secondly, with evidence of non-religion on the rise, I reach beyond the sociology of religion and move beyond description to unfold the impact of non-religious beliefs, wonder and spirituality (“Wonder more’’) through organised unbelief.

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