The first comedian-founded atheist church in England is set to hold its first monthly service tomorrow. Pippa Evans (a "musical improv comedian") and Sanderson Jones (just a regular talking comedian) came up with the idea together.
"We thought it would be a shame not to enjoy the good stuff about religion, like the sense of community, just because of a theological disagreement," said Mr Jones, who recently became the first person to sell out the Sydney Opera House by personally selling all tickets by hand.
The image of Sanderson Jones selling Sydney Opera House tickets "by hand," presumably while standing outside the building itself on the night of each performance, trying to talk passers-by into coming inside, is almost unbearably charming. Not to mention the fact that he refers to the differences between Christianity and atheism as a "theological disagreement," like a Lutheran discussing font etiquette at a garden party.
Jones called it "part atheist church" and "part foot-stomping show" that will meet once a month. Tomorrow's service features guest lecturer Andy Stanton, author of the Mr. Gum children's books.
The church, of course, is not without controversy; a Catholic parish priest in Finsbury said to reporters that while it's "important" to engage with non-believers, "for them to establish a church like any other religious denomination is going too far. I'm cautious about it." Only in England would a Catholic priest refer to an atheist church as something to be "cautious" about, as though he's willing to be surprised and delighted by it, because you never know.
Sanderson Jones has similarly modest expectations: "we just want people to feel encouraged and excited when they leave."