In various parts of the country, religious affiliation seems to be diminishing, leading Americans to seek alternative ways of connecting with a “higher power.” One such alternative is Secular Sabbath, a members-only club located in West Hollywood. This unique club has attracted a diverse group of “couple hundred” members, including influencers, models, and celebrities who are searching for meaning and purpose in an increasingly secular society. Although many Americans no longer attend traditional church services, they still seek guidance and comfort from a spiritual source, as reported by the Free Press.
Secular Sabbath distinguishes itself as a new form of meditation practice, incorporating various sensory experiences and awareness techniques to achieve a state of deep relaxation and restoration that can be carried into daily life. This holistic approach aims to fill the void left by the decline in religious affiliation. Statistics show that the number of Americans identifying as having no religious preference has risen from close to zero in the 1950s to over one-fifth of the population today, encompassing atheists, agnostics, and those who categorize themselves as “nothing in particular.” According to Pew research models, if this trend continues, around two-thirds of Americans will no longer identify as religious by 2070.
The founder of Secular Sabbath, 32-year-old Genevieve Medow-Jenkins, draws inspiration from her upbringing at The Esalen Institute, a renowned wellness retreat in Big Sur, California, where her parents worked. Although she was raised Jewish, Medow-Jenkins does not regularly attend temple but still finds spirituality and a connection to God in her life. She seeks to challenge the perception among many young people that God is uncool and hopes to share her upbringing and experiences with others through Secular Sabbath. She envisions her community as a modern-day version of what Esalen was in the 1990s, during her formative years.
Medow-Jenkins expressed her desire for members of Secular Sabbath to find a sense of purpose, whether through a connection to God or something greater than themselves. She shared that she personally turns to God in vulnerable moments, seeking assistance and guidance. The events hosted by Secular Sabbath, primarily held in California but also expanding to locations like Iceland and Mexico City, serve as a haven for some members to freely express themselves without any rigid rules. On the other hand, others see it as an opportunity to experience spirituality in a new and unconventional way.
For Medow-Jenkins, it was essential that Secular Sabbath did not become burdened with an excess of rules, in contrast to her negative experiences with religion, which she found to be overly restrictive. As a result, the club’s website does not outline any specific rules, allowing individuals the freedom to be themselves and explore their spirituality in diverse ways. While drugs and alcohol are not provided or encouraged at Secular Sabbath’s events, Medow-Jenkins does not forbid guests from bringing these vices if they choose to do so, as reported by the Free Press.
Diplo, a prominent DJ and songwriter, is among the attendees of Secular Sabbath and has found solace in its gatherings. He emphasized that any experience that enables individuals to celebrate life becomes a form of church. Diplo shared his personal journey, having recently lost both his mother and sister, which led him back to seeking spiritual connections. However, he also acknowledged that there are multiple avenues available to reconnect with God, emphasizing that every day can be seen as an opportunity for spiritual connection.
Secular Sabbath presents an alternative space for individuals who feel disenchanted with traditional religious structures and seek a more personally meaningful experience. With its diverse membership and focus on spiritual exploration, the club offers a unique platform for people to find purpose and connection in an increasingly secular world.