Return to Transcripts main page
Aired May 11, 2014 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MORGAN SPURLOCK, CNN HOST (voice-over): Like it or not, religion and a belief in God is deeply woven into the fabric of this country.
CROWD: One nation, under God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This country was built by Christian people who believe that the word of God --
SPURLOCK: But how important is religion to modern life? Is it really still relevant?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The church gives hope and we believe it's the only real hope on the planet.
SPURLOCK: If we don't necessarily believe in God, where does that leave us?
If I don't go to church, what am I missing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you missing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So help me God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is only one God and his name is Jesus.
This week I'm in Nashville, Tennessee, the buckle of the bible belt. Around here it's hard to turn a corner without stumbling on some church or house of worship. But the landscape of religion in America is changing. People are turning away from religion in unprecedented numbers.
I'm part of bun of the largest groups of religion in country, the religiously unaffiliated. One in five Americans don't associate themselves in any religion. And one in three under the age of 30 are unaffiliated.
I grew up in a moderately religious house hold but as I got older and travel the world and met more people of religions from all over the planet, I started to kind of change my views a little bit. The one thing I know is that I don't know. And, you know, I see myself being agnostic than anything else. But the thing that I feel like I miss out of that is just an added sense of community.
Within organized religion, there is a tremendous value in community. People who are parts of communities, you live longer, you're healthier and you are happier. I'm wondering if I can find a spiritual community where I belong. And I may have found a solution.
If you think that here in Nashville, I'd only find church as of the God-fearing variety, but there's a new church on the horizon, a Godless congregation called Sunday assembly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. I'm Sam.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'm (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And together, we stands at the Sunday Assembly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's all of the benefits of church with no religion and awesome pop songs.
SPURLOCK: It's made up of atheists and agnostics like me and seems to do what church does, just leaving out the God part.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you leave here and just feeling better witty about life, and you made it think that it can offer, then that would be great.
SPURLOCK: It was started in England, but has been picking up steam in the U.S., even here in the heart of the bible belt. I'm on my way to meet Sanderson Jones, one of the cofounders. He's here to check on the Nashville chapter which has grown to 100 members since its inception.
Good to see you. This is the home of Sunday Assembly Nashville?
SANDERSON JONES, COFOUNDER, SUNDAY ASSEMBLY: Well, yes. Obviously, we expected this to happen when it started it this year. We're like, oh yes, in a few months I would be coming to Nashville.
SPURLOCK: What made you want to start Sunday assembly?
JONES: Well, it's something I've been thinking about a long time, but you don't really tell people you've got an idea to start a new church, particularly if you've got this beard.
SPURLOCK: Sanderson, a comedian by trade, never guessed the little late history they started in London would grow so fast.
JONES: In January this year, when this all de-consecrated church, on the first day, 200 people turned up. There were people in the aisles we had to open up this balcony. There wasn't enough room.
SPURLOCK: Yes. JONES: And then next month, 300 people started turning up and then people started writing to us all over the world saying I'd like one of this made me.
SPURLOCK: And now here it is.
JONES: Here it is, yes. We didn't realize we were stepping into this massive need.
SPURLOCK: So, is it an atheist church? Like what is the idea of Sunday assembly?
JONES: Well, we call it a Godless congregation that celebrates life. You know, you see it is pretty much the door of time. Humans have gathered together to celebrate their values. And as people started less and less getting involved in religion, well you're still human, you've still got to have community. Did you used to go to church in.
SPURLOCK: I did. My whole childhood. Yes.
JONES: Really? What type?
SPURLOCK: It was Methodist, lie you know, big intimidating, stain glassed windows and you know, crucifixions . It was very much like, here's all the terrible things that are going to happen to you, you're going to hell.
JONES: You need less of this.
JONES: OK. And that's the thing. We don't come at it like going you're wrong, you're wrong. This is about life.
SPURLOCK: A celebration.
JONES: It's a celebration.
SPURLOCK: Life should be a celebration.
SPURLOCK: So those are like the pastor, like who's the pastor, who runs the whole thing in?
JONES: So, what we've got, we've got the host who does all of the, almost like an MC, make sure it keeps on moving along. And so, If we've gone on this idea, you know, like pretty much most near anyone can get up and do a really good job. I mean I reckon that, I reckon that you could do it.
SPURLOCK: That I could do it?
JONES: Yes, I reckon you could do it 10 percent.
SPURLOCK: I guess when Sanderson says anyone can lead a service, he means it. I would absolutely do it. I'm in.
JONES: Put it there.
SPURLOCK: And why not give it a shot. I mean, how hard can it be?
JONES: Let's say that the most important thing is at the start get everyone clapping then we get everyone standing up and then everyone is like hey, I'm standing up and clapping. I must be having a good time. There's the first thing, just to help organize it, help choose some songs. Also, you've got to have a little work on your message.
SPURLOCK: OK. Maybe this is a big responsibility.
JONES: Let's go and meet the organizers of the Nashville chapter.
Sunday Assembly doesn't have a real church to gather in, but they've got the next best thing, a bar.
SPURLOCK: This is Morgan.
I'm not reinventing the wheel here. I'm sure this Sunday Assembly in Nashville can help me get on the right path. So Sanderson has talked me into hosting on Sunday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that would be awesome. How do you feel about that?
SPURLOCK: I'm excited about it. So give me some advice. What do I need to do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's good to know who's doing what then. You've got to keep the thing moving. You have to be fun. You're going to sing with us, right?
SPURLOCK: Of course, I am.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Always keep smiling.
JONES: A lot of this. You've got to be come on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Think about this way, you are the closest thing to pastor we're going to get.
SPURLOCK: No pressure.
SPURLOCK: What made you guys want to do it? Why did you say yes, we can do that in Nashville?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a gay man. I'm married. In other cities, you know, gay people have moved away from the church. The south is so religious that, you know, gay people have a harder time just completely just backing off. SPURLOCK: I mean, it's such a part of your life, you know, when you grow up in the south. It's a part of who you are from birth. What happened to you? Did you grow up going to church.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.
Once you lose it you don't have that connection to people that you once did. So ultimately when the assembly came in, it was like, here it is, this is what I'm looking for. It fills that gap.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a good thing. It gets people together, you know, in the community thing focused on something bigger than the individual. That attracts a lot of people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing to think about as a host is that each assembly, each service has a theme.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that means we need a theme.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your theme?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The theme is going to come from your talk.
SPURLOCK: I just got hired. I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just got hired. OK.
SPURLOCK: Man escaping. Could do a lit work on man escaping.
Sunday Assembly sounds great but what did I just get myself into? There's a lot more involved with leading a service than I thought. I have to pick a theme, write a sermon and above all create a meaningful experience. But after all of these years of being out of the religion game whereby where do I begin. Here in Tennessee, over 98 percent of the religiously affiliated are Christian. So maybe a good place to start, it is good old passion church. I mean, who better to learn the art of preaching from than the masters themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Come on. Put your hands together and let's celebrate Jesus. Come on. Let's sing it from the top.
SPURLOCK: Mount Zion Baptist church is one of the oldest churches in the Nashville and it's driven by the belief that the bible is the truth word of God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today I want to talk about a unique topic today. Depression. I want you to know from the pulpit to the back pew everybody is trouble.
The devil wants to take advantage of this moment of weakness, right? The moment you find yourself struggling with hope, the devil comes in and he's going to attack you whenever your armor is not on.
Do you know what the armor of God is? Have on the helmet of salvation. You have the head cover, you have the breast place of righteousness, you have your loins girded with truth. You understand what's going on. My heart covers what I allow in my spirit.
But my head has got to be covered so I don't allow things to come in and take what God has spoken in my life. Because you can less around and let the negative in and you let the evil in and it will start messing with your head and before long there will be a thin line between the voice of God and schizophrenia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's good.
SPURLOCK: I got to admit, bishop Walker sure can preach.
Like in all of the years I went to church growing up, never did a minister talk about depression, you know.
BISHOP JOSEPH WALKER, MT. ZION BAPTIST CHURCH: The church loses a lot of people because we don't deal with relevant issues.
SPURLOCK: Real issues.
WALKER: You can't have an 8-track ministry in an ipod generation. You just tend to learn, you know. You've got to bring it up to date. It got to be relevant. You got to be open the positive for change. People are hungry for something, but they're not hungry for what has been.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you to look at somebody and tell them you're awesome too. Come on, tell them, you're awesome. A lot of fine people. Put your arms around them. Spread some love.
SPURLOCK: Well, that was an incredible experience. We see the bishop up there, you know, engaging people with so much humor and so much passion and talking to them about real-life things that affect them. And as I'm thinking about the gospel of Morgan, continues to remind me of stuff I need to be focusing on. We need to focus on things that we can all believe in, things we can all connect to and to remind people how awesome they are.
You're awesome. Thanks for watching. You're awesome. You're so awesome.
SPURLOCK (voice-over): I'm in Nashville, Tennessee and I have just agreed to host the upcoming service for Sunday assembly. I still have a lot to figure out, but the clock is ticking so we've got to get the word out. Sunday assembly does it all. Social media, press releases and good old fashion soliciting. SPURLOCK: So Sanderson and I have our flyers. So now, we're going to take to the streets, talk to the peeps, give them on flyers. Hopefully actually drum up some excitement, at least that's the plan.
JONES: Let's set minds on fire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll give you a flyer for this coming Sunday. Don't know what you're doing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually I'm flying home to Charlotte.
SPURLOCK: Yu are flying on Charlotte. Then you're going to miss an incredible day.
Two services on Sunday, one at 10:00 and one at 12:00.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just here for the weekend.
SPURLOCK: It's going to be greet. You're going to love it.
OK. So maybe, we're off to a bit of shaky start.
There are going to be dozens of people here.
JONES: We've got this thing called a Sunday assembly.
SPURLOCK: It's a nonreligious ceremony where people are just going to have a good time and celebrate life. He is going to celebrate like, look at him. It's a wonderful day of singing, having a great time. It is all of the best bits of church, but without the religion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure, it is not religion?
JONES: Yes, I know. Can you imagine a thing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
SPURLOCK: Hey ladies, how are you? We'd like to invite you to the Sunday Assembly. Here is what is going to come out. You'd have a great time. Basically, it's church for people who don't have a church.
JONES: Awesome sings, great talks.
SPURLOCK: People are wondering what's going on. They are like, what is going outside of our building.
What are you guys doing this weekend? It is an assembly of people who come in and celebrate life.
JONES: All of the best things of church with none of the religious bit and awesome pop songs.
SPURLOCK: You are the guy who appreciates hip hop songs. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SPURLOCK: You guys should come to this on Sunday. It's going to be great. You know what goes great with pancakes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What.
SPURLOCK: Sun assembly. It seems like rippling. It is ripple effect going, it's a buzz. People are all buzz about Sunday.
You are going to come? Yes, the service at 10:00. It serves 12:00.
Are you guys going to be there?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll be there.
SPURLOCK: I will see you there. Give me a high five. Nice.
Spreading the word about my service is a good start, but what exactly does it take to sell religion in this day and age. I have an idea about where I can find out. Hey, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey.
SPURLOCK: Nice to meet you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice to meet you.
SPURLOCK: If anyone knows thou spread their gospel, it's these guys. Elder Bishop and elder (INAUDIBLE) are more of a missionaries, the secret weapon behind the church of latter day saints explosive growth.
In the last 40 years, they have grown their numbers from three million to 15 million, making it one of the fastest growing religions around.
And how long have you guys been on your mission so far.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A year and a half. We came on a mission ten times.
SPURLOCK: How many months left?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About seven to work. We love it.
SPURLOCK: Yes. What am I going to be doing today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to do some door to door talking, see if anyone is interested in the message we share.
SPURLOCK: Like here. Like give me an exam. Like I'm at the door.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SPURLOCK: So, you guys knock on the door. Is that right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Knock, knock, knock. SPURLOCK: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. How are you doing?
Wonderful. We're missionaries for the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints.
People say no. We don't want to force anything on them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're here to that help other people to bring them closer to their savior, Jesus Christ.
SPURLOCK: All right, col. Let's get to work. Thank you guys.
There were more than 80,000 Mormon missionaries around the world, engaged in church service, humanitarianism, volunteerism, and of course, .
What are some of the strangest experiences you've had knocking on doors.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had a gun pulled on me once.
SPURLOCK: Did you really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It was pretty neat.
SPURLOCK: Did he say I don't want to hear anything, get off of my property.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little more colorful words but that's basically what he said. We asked if h e wanted a pamphlet.
SPURLOCK: Did he take a pamphlet?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. He didn't take a pamphlet. So we said, thank you sire. You have a great day. But he was a nice guy.
SPURLOCK: That's what I would say to a guy who's holding a pistol at me as well. I said you're a nice man.
I'm hoping we don't run into anything like that today but at the same time, I know I don't love being bothered at home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Try to doorbell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we go. Maybe not home.
SPURLOCK: OK. So far we're striking out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello.
SPURLOCK: Hey. We're here to talk to you about the church of latter day saints. Have you got a minute?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
SPURLOCK: Just take one second.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry.
SPURLOCK: Just be real quick. OK so we're O for two. But maybe we'll have better luck with this next house, or maybe not.
SPURLOCK: How are you sir?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, how are you doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm elder bishop. Nice to meet you. Is that a cross.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You must be pretty religious then if you have a Christ.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not really.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ latter day saints. And we're wondering if maybe we can come inside and share a quick message with you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, why not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cool beans. Thank you. Are you familiar with Jesus Christ.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of this things we believe he did when he was resurrected is he came and visited the people in America right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the book of Mormon is a record of Jesus Christ and his ministry in America.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a musical stage play about the Mormons?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there is. There is. It wasn't Mormoned that created it but it is about Mormons.
SPURLOCK: Is it OK if we take your information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. SPURLOCK: Possibly follow up with you at some point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take care of yourself.
SPURLOCK: Pleasure meeting you, sir. Now that we broke the ice, hopefully we can keep it up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is it doing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know about your church. I had friends that were involved in your congregation.
SPURLOCK: Do you do around church around here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven't been in a while. I'm always working on Sunday nights. We just started attending our local church.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you like that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's wonderful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The book of Mormon, (INAUDIBLE), Jesus Christ. Is it all right if we give you one?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
SPURLOCK: Look. Can we give you a pamphlet?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be interested in us coming by sometimes?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to come by sometimes, that will be fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enjoy the rest of your pizza.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take care.
SPURLOCK: That was success.
Preaching their gospel isn't the only way that the missionaries try to reach people. They also offer up selfless service to anyone who needs it in their mission area.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like as much as you can to drag it out down to my burn pile.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. Holy cow.
SPURLOCK: Yes. It's going to take a little bit.
Need to hit the gym a little more.
I can't remember the last time I went and helped somebody do something. I don't even help my friends with things. They know not to call me when they're moving. I kind of put the cows on that. It was one of those where I said I'm not going to call you to help me move, so don't call me to help you move. These boys are putting me to work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's what we do.
SPURLOCK: They put out nothing but positive energy and I think that really comes back to them. So for me, I think I want to embrace this idea of doing good, of helping others.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You all did a good job.
SPURLOCK: Of being nice and putting that out there. Helped out a neighbor. Pretty good day.
SPURLOCK (voice-over): After years of being out of the religion game, I've joined with a Godless congregation called the Sunday Assembly.
JONES: All right.
SPURLOCK: And it's probably about time that I get down to business and start working on that sermon.
It's my early morning bed head. This is when, this is when my brain is best to focus on things like this. Whenever I write anything, you know, I usually start with a free flow of ideas and then out of that I'll start to write what I think is my end message will be, friends, family, faith, fellowship, support, love, hope, helping one another, giving back, shared believes, a home, that's getting a window to my brain. My brain starts here and then it kind of, you know, explodes out into an actual idea.
But I still feel like I have a thing or two to learn before my big day. The most popular churches today are doing churches very differently than the ones I used to go to. I'm talking about mega churches
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are created in his image with a destiny to fulfill.
SPURLOCK: Congregations with an average weekly attendance of more than 2,000 people. Today, I'm headed to check one out.
This is cornerstone evangelical mega church in Nashville, Tennessee. Three thousand-plus people come here every week. We just look at it. I mean, this looks nothing like any church I went to. There is no people out front. There is no big crosses anywhere. It looks almost like a concert hall. Let's see what it's all about. Morning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning cornerstone. Are you guys ready to worship? Let me hear you. Are you ready to worship?
SPURLOCK: Like other evangelical churches, Cornerstone is on a mission to win souls for Jesus Christ and to keep its people on a righteous path and for the last 22 years Cornerstone church has multiplied under pastor Maury Davis.
PASTOR MAURY DAVIS, CORNERSTONE CHURCH: We're going to read from the bible which is always where we develop our belief system, we develop our culture, we develop our faith. And as long as I'm your pastor, that's not ever going to change. So chill out, child of God. Then the Lord God said it's not good for the man to be alone.
DAVIS: Some of you aren't sure. That's why we're working on families right now. And the Lord God passion into a woman a woman with the rib he had taken from man. For this reason the man shall be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.
God's original family. The purpose of marriage is mutual satisfaction as well as reproduction. God said you shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female. It's an abomination. You don't get to make up your own walk with God. When we have a society that 80 percent of the people say they believe in God and a majority of Americans say they're Christians, but they vote for people who they are putting in office who attack the very truths that built the greatest nation on the face of the earth because our traditional American values came from the bible. When you vote for somebody who wants to change the definition of marriage, for somebody who wants to promote homosexuality as the same as traditional marriage, you have a problem in your walk with God, you have a problem in your biblical understanding. And there is something wrong in a Christian nation that elect people, they want it destroy bible values. And we've got to stop that and get back to the bible.
SPURLOCK: You know after seeing the sermon, some of the messages, especially being somebody who has a lot of friends and family who are homosexuals, it's, you know, it's hard to belief that it's only one way and that's part of the problem that I have with religion in general.
Pastor Davis seems to have some pretty strong opinions about the types of people that will get into heaven. But there is an interesting thing I learned about it. He's not only the pastor of this mega church, he's also a convicted murder.
So where does this leave him?
DAVIS: At age 18 in the middle of a crime I committed a murder and went to the Dallas county jail and was all messed up, I was a drug addict, they were going to lock me up for the rest of my life.
SPURLOCK: Has God forgiven you?
SPURLOCK: How do you know?
DAVIS: His word says so. Had I not had that moment that I had faith in Christ, they would have either electrocuted me or put me in prison or the rest of my life and I wouldn't be here today.
SPURLOCK: Yes. So that one moment changed your life?
I told the church not too long ago I don't deserve to pastor this church. I don't deserve the life I have. Everything I have is because of God's amazing grace. You know, being born again actually means that God writes your name down on the lamb's book of life. When you get to heaven, if your name is not in the book, you don't get in.
SPURLOCK: What about somebody like Gandhi? Where is Gandhi get to go?
DAVIS: I don't know, I didn't know Gandhi.
SPURLOCK: He was a pretty great Hindu.
DAVIS: And you know, I got an orphanage in India. I'm going over there in April.
SPURLOCK: Yes. Are there any homosexuals in your congregation?
DAVIS: Yes, they are.
SPURLOCK: And so, you're basically telling them you're going the hell, but they still keep coming back?
DAVIS: They know I love them.
SPURLOCK: Yes. But do they --- do they have a different interpretation of the bible.
DAVIS: They do.
SPURLOCK: They are like, you could say whatever you want. We don't agree with you.
DAVIS: We probably have about 30 people that are either practicing or struggle with homosexual than I am aware of.
SPURLOCK: Yes. I'm sure, they probably more than that.
DAVIS: And you know, we love them all.
SPURLOCK: You know, in a world where we live and people continue to talk about the separation of church and state, is the pulpit the place to talk about these issues?
DAVIS: America has a long Christian history. The word religion when they founded our constitution, it meant Muslim, Buddhism, it meant Baptist, Methodist, the different religions within Christianity.
SPURLOCK: So when you hear freedom of religion, you believe freedom of religion in America doesn't apply to other religions?
DAVIS: No, I do. And I think we need to understand the original definition that was not for other religion's practice. I disagree with the other religions but I believe in the freedom to practice because God gave people the freedom of choice as long as they don't fly planes or kill people of stuff of that nature.
SPURLOCK: Maybe not the most tolerant views for pastor Davis but then again, religion is not without its controversy.
One thing is for certain, being judged or excluded will definitely not be a part of "the gospel of Morgan."
SPURLOCK (voice-over): I'm in Nashville, Tennessee, gearing follow-up for church service I'll been leading for the Sunday Assembly, the Godless congregation that's put down roots here in the bible belt.
And perhaps unsurprisingly it's not always to be an unbeliever in God country. So to help each other feel less isolated, the Sunday Assembly has created a small group, a chance to bond and find strength in numbers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other thing you hear a lot and I have heard this a lot since to coming to Tennessee, you either believe in God o or you believe in nothing. There's so many other religions. So people that don't believe the same thing as you are nothing in that gets me fired up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you know, I'm in the military. And nowadays you're more open to be out there and say I'm gay. But if you go out there and tell somebody you're an atheist, that's chanting (ph). And it is like why are we the last people in the closet too afraid to come out and say something. But at the end of the day there's a fundamental difference. They're going to Afghanistan and praising Jesus and I'm checking my body armor make sure it works. You know?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was raised a door knocking bible thumping person. But it was always in the back of my head what about? But you don't question, you don't ask because it's a matter of faith. I kind of stepped back and you are suddenly free. And just valuing what I've missed out on all these years. It's amazing.
I have a painting I picked up and it's of the universe of planets and stars and I have this on my ding room wall because it's just wonderful, wonderful what is out there. We don't need God. We don't need religion. We just need to know that we are here for each other. And that's what it's all about.
SPURLOCK: For me, I'm a real believer in what connects people and whatever that may be, you know, the force or whatever, makes us all be connected as people. I live a life of love. I live a life of empathy and I believe in giving back and helping people. And I find that I get more out of that than I ever did out of going to church.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the challenge for me, it's more on the, well, do I got to do this all by myself? What's cool is there are a lot of similar type stories in this room and I think you'll find anytime the assembly as a whole too. I mean I think there's a whole lot of people that are looking for something like this.
SPURLOCK: You know, to hear all of these people who have like religious coming out stories. You know, people are coming out and just saying, here's what happened to me, here's how my life changed. And as you're trying to find their place here in Nashville, I think things like this are really important. So, it's a good start for them. See what happens.
But I have to wonder, what will it take to get to a point where everyone is accepted regardless of their personal believes? Maybe we can learn something from another group here in Nashville. Muslims make up less than one percent of the population in Tennessee but you wouldn't know it from looking at the headlines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, threats targeting the new Islamic center in Rutherford county.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The second time in three years, the Al Farooq Islamic center was vandalized.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody knows who is trying to kill us. And it's like we can't say it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't Baptists and Catholics that put bombs in the bottom of the world trade center.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The goal of Islam is to rule the world. It is not a religion.
SPURLOCK: Renziya Suleyman has lived in Nashville for 20 years and has witnessed the ground to all of Islam phobia first hand.
RENZIYA SULEYMAN, MUSLIM: People fear change, communities look different. People who sound and look like me are here.
SULEYMAN: Folks have a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes of people who look and sound like me.
SPURLOCK: What are the biggest stereotypes?
SULEYMAN: That that time a terrorist, that don't speak English. My favorite one is your dad and your husband force you to wear your scarf.
SULEYMAN: One, I'm not married and two, my dad will tell you firsthand, I'm probably the last person he can tell really do this, do that, yes.
SPURLOCK: What drove you to start to want covering again?
SULEYMAN: Six years ago I lost my youngest brother in a car accident.
SULEYMAN: And that really just kind of changed how I viewed life. It was my faith that help me through it. And I felt the self esteem and the empowerment that I've gotten for myself is really why I have continued to keep it on.
SPURLOCK: Guided by her faith, Renziya sprang to action in 2011 to battle an anti-Shariah bill that was introduced at the state level.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would stop terrorists attacked at the earliest.
SPURLOCK: In effect, the bill without have outlawed being a practicing Muslim in Tennessee.
SULEYMAN: The field is in attack on Muslims. Beside even just Muslim, It's an attack on religious freedom.
SPURLOCK: Tell me what happened around the anti-Shariah law.
SULEYMAN: So the bill was amended several times. And what eventually pass was a replica of a 2006 anti-terrorism bill which we all, you know, can support. I think the elected officials who brought it didn't realize that they were going to wake up our community. My community has never organized like they did then.
SPURLOCK: Renziya has remained vigilant ever since and is now a staple in the halls of the capitol.
Hello. How are you doing, man?
I like the looks that you get when we walk through.
SULEYMAN: I know. Welcome to my life. They probably think, what is she up to again. That is definitely on their mind.
SPURLOCK: What is she spinning today.
SPURLOCK: Today, Renziya and I lobbying against an education bill.
SULEYMAN: House bill 1129 that's going to be on the calendar next week.
SPURLOCK: That could limit the teaching of minority achievement in school curriculum.
SULEYMAN: Do we not teach for the civil rights era that paved the way for me to be here lobbying (INAUDIBLE).
REP. JASON POWELL (D), NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: I oppose the bill. I don't think there is necessary legislation.
REP. JOE PITTS (D), CLARKSVILLE, TENNESSEE: It kind of starts in the local community for them to say hey, you know, this is not good enough. This does not represent who we are and what we want to see.
REP. HAROLD LOVE, JR. (D), NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: We don't want to have children go through their classes and only have text books that talk about a certain segment of our population.
SULEYMAN: I can say that we are going to count on your support?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 110 percent.
SPURLOCK: Thank you. Nice job. She killed it.
SULEYMAN: For many elected officials, whether they are Republican or Democrats, they haven't interacted with a Muslim. Once they sit down with me, and they're like, OK, they're not different from us.
SULEYMAN: The lady right there with the gray afro.
SPURLOCK: So, the one sitting in the booth.
SULEYMAN: Yes. She was instrument tall in bringing the anti-Shariah bill.
SPURLOCK: What is your name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bobby (INAUDIBLE).
SPURLOCK: I'm wondering if she's leaving if I can grab her in the hallway.
SULEYMAN: Good luck.
SPURLOCK: Excuse me. Hi, I'm Morgan Spurlock. Can I ask you a quick, ma'am? Just real quick questions for CNN.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About what?
SPURLOCK: I just want to ask you about the anti-Shariah bill that you brought up. Do you have one minute? Take two seconds, real quick.
As you can see, she didn't want to talk to me. That's what happens when you get behind people. You got to get in front of people with the camera, Brian.
SPURLOCK (voice-over): It's almost game day when I will lead a service for the Sunday day assembly, the Godless congregation that's been brewing around the world and here in Nashville.
I've been thinking about the values I want to include in my service. Positivity, inclusiveness, selflessness, and importance of lie-minded people being able to connect with one another.
Truthfully, this reminds me of one thing, home. So I've decided that will be the theme of my Sunday assembly, home. Now that I've gotten my theme figured out, it's time to meet with the team from Sunday Assembly and nail down the rest of my service.
So, we're opening with a song, right?
JONES: We are opening with two songs.
SPURLOCK: That's when I welcome everybody to Sunday Assembly.
SPURLOCK: Who is going to introduce Morgan.
JONES: Morgan. Morgan is going to be the --
SPURLOCK: He's just going to step right in.
JONES: He's going to come out, smoke machine, boom, stage drops through.
SPURLOCK: I come flying in on a rope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SPURLOCK: OK. So then after notices then it's my address. Do I get to work on that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hammer that out.
SPURLOCK: I got to hammer that out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then at that point we'll transition into what, the reading?
SPURLOCK: The more you can break up talking with some music, the more it will feel like it's --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That it is just a show.
SPURLOCK: And snappy and quick, yes. So the first song is going is "living on a prayer" going to be first?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Close. It's "it's my life".
SPURLOCK: It is my life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bon Jovi. You had it right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Such a good song.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is great time. What was nice in Sunday Assembly is it kind of compile this list of some other groups have done. There was a lot of energy, people were singing, they were involved and engaged in it. So, we're going to do that again.
SPURLOCK: Sunday Assembly doesn't have gospel hymns or religious to bond over but they have the next best thing, pop songs. What better way to bring a group together than over commonly love music.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then we'll go into this high energy version of "we didn't start the fire".
SPURLOCK: Great! That's good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An excellent '80s version of "lean on me."
SPURLOCK: It's good song at the end.
JONES: And then it is also really good if you are singing, if you can just be at the front doing some clapping and just bad, bad dancing.
SPURLOCK: Last song and that it's. Thank you guys for coming. Good night. Thank you, Nashville.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is going to be so much fun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to be great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know what numbers we've got on the acceptances?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dozens.
SPURLOCK: Dozens? What is the maximum capacity of that space?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ninety five.
SPURLOCK: Ninety five? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to nail the social media. It would be good if you were able to facebook and tweet it.
SPURLOCK: Yes, we can tweet it out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we've got a busy couple of days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we do.
SPURLOCK: You feel crunch time is on right now. We have a lot to get done in a tiny bit of time. And I'm starting to feel the pressure.
Sunday will be here before we know it. So there's in time to waste. First stop, the Tennessean to promote our service.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that Atheism can be isolated?
JONES: Particularly here, I sometimes feel like I'm a gay guy from San Francisco going hey, guys what's the big deal, just be out and proud.
SPURLOCK: Next stop, volunteering with the Sunday assembly to spread some good will and maybe to recruits more folk to the service.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good is great and we're doing good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't know that Nashville had an atheist commune.
SPURLOCK: Yes. I will be hosting both the services, but you should come.
And lastly -- band practice.
JONES: All right. So 8:00 a.m. We'll get set up.
SPURLOCK: So this is it? This is the big day. Sunday Assembly happening in Nashville. And I'm somewhat prepared. Now we've got a room with a lot of empty chairs. The hope is that those get filled open people show up. Fingers crossed.
SPURLOCK: It's Sunday, which means one thing.
Hey, how are you? Morgan. Good to see you.
It's time to host my service for Sunday Assembly.
Plenty of room right down many the front, sir. Right in the front row, guys.
People are showing up. It's a good sign that people are actually coming. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi there. Lovely to meet you.
SPURLOCK: It's about two minutes to show time. Trying to get everything together in the last minute, making my last minute notes. This is my brain feeder right here. It's going to work out great.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Sunday Assembly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, two, three, four.
SPURLOCK: Let's hear it. Nice job, everybody.
So now I want to talk about home. That's what this weak is all about. And for me, as I said, I grow up in West Virginia. That's home to me. You know, I picture a little pale lanky me in West Virginia which is not much different than tall, pale lanky me as an adult, you know. I had to say mustache would grow every early, like bird in West Virginia. I was born with this.
And so, one of the first thing that came out it for me is safety. Home is a place you know where those are my peeps. They got my back. I was the youngest of three ballet dancing brothers in West Virginia which if you're wondering, is not the cool thing to do in West Virginia. But my parents gave me the courage, they said yes, go do this thank you love to do. We love that. You go do that. We'll be behind you while everybody laughs and makes fun of you but you go do that.
When I think of home I think of my dad who, you know, worked so much and was never there. But I never saw him quit. I saw my father constantly being dedicated to providing for his family. And when I think of home, I think of my mom, this whole idea of empathy was instilled into me by my mom. This idea that if you have the ability to help someone, you have an obligation to help them.
But now my model of home has changed because now I have a little boy. And I work so much and I travel and he looks at me and he goes, daddy, all you do is leave. And it kills you as a father to hear that. All I can hope is that he sees in me the things that were instilled in me by my father that I'm working to provide for him, to give him those opportunities, to give him those moments of inspiration, of hope, of passion that I was so lucky to get from my parents.
So as I said to you guys who are here today who have been searching for something, I say this is your new home. This is a place for you to feel incredibly safe, to take your believes, to be able to share them with other people.
But mostly it's a place for you to instill in yourself and others the same inspiration we want our children to have, that there is a way for a better world and we can get there together. To all of you I say, welcome home.
(APPLAUSE) JONES: Are we ready to get --
SPURLOCK: What's become really evident in the last eight days that we spent in Nashville is religion is incredibly relevant in America. And not only that. It's important in people's lives. But the things that really resonates with me is what people seem to value more than anything is the sense of community that they get from belonging to these types of organizations. And I think it doesn't matter if you're a Baptist, it doesn't matter if you're a Muslim or an atheist or agnostic, we should all have the opportunity and ability to belong to something that truly fulfills or lives.
I heard about the Sunday Assembly in New York, there was a group of devout atheists who were upset that it wasn't as devoute atheist as they wanted.
JONES: I know. that is (INAUDIBLE).
SPURLOCK: Not Atheist enough.
JONES: Yes. There is a road of militant intolerance fundamentalist Atheist who think that the way we don't believe in God is not the right way of not believing in God. It's so brilliant.