Sunday assembly : a ‘radically inclusive’ congregation?

Bullock, Josh (2018) Sunday assembly : a ‘radically inclusive’ congregation? In: British Sociological Association Sociology of Religion Study Group Annual Response Day : Faiths & Civil Society: Building Bridges or Walls?; 02 May 2018, London, 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 (Unpublished)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 SA 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 and community to the religiously unaffiliated market, while old patterns of belonging are in flux. I draw upon a 15-month ethnographic study of the London SA and 35 semi-structured interviews to better understand lived non-religion and what the SA can tell us about the wider (non-)religious landscape. This paper presents findings in two ways: firstly, I discuss their apolitical stance and respond to the theme of ‘building bridges or walls’ by offering a secular communities’ response to civil society issues and detail who the SA are helping when they ‘help often’. Secondly, I analyse to what extent the SA are ‘radically inclusive’ by providing a multi-levelled answer to explain their lack of diversity in terms of age, ethnicity and social class.

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