Atheists Do Not “Target UK schools” April 27, 2009

Atheists Do Not “Target UK schools”

I posted yesterday about The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS) and how they were having a recruitment drive this summer to begin campus atheist groups.

The Sunday Telegraph (UK) article about the group contained a number of inaccuracies — let’s clear this up.

Here’s what Jonathan Wynne-Jones wrote in his article:

The federation aims to encourage students to lobby their schools and local authorities over what is taught in RE lessons and to call for daily acts of collective worship to be scrapped. It wants the societies to hold talks and educational events to persuade students not to believe in God.

Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: “Atheists are becoming increasingly militant in their desperate attempts to stamp out faith. It is deeply worrying that they now want to use children to attack the Christian ethos of their schools.

“Many parents will also be anxious at the thought of militant atheists targeting their children.”

Both comments are complete exaggerations of the truth.

The AHS says this in a press release:

… here is a summary of the purpose of helping students found their own atheist, humanist and secularist groups:

  • To teach students how to debate and create dialogue between school faith groups.
  • Provide the school with fun and educational events and activities, including two student-led courses: ‘Perspectives’ in which a speaker from a faith group gives a talk followed by Q&A, and our ‘One Life’ course, which considers moral and ethical issues without god. Many events will also support the scientific curriculum.
  • Encourage charity volunteering.
  • Give students the experience of running a group and managing events.
  • Show students that it’s ok not to believe in god and encourage critical thinking.
  • Bring out issues concerning religious privilege in schools such as collective worship and incomplete or biased religious education.

I’ll add one more bit. The Telegraph article says this about Camp Quest:

In a further development to strengthen the role of atheism among the younger generation, the first summer camp for irreligious children or the children of nontheistic parents is being held this summer.

It should be noted that while CQ is a camp for children of atheist parents, it does not indoctrinate the kids the same way religious camps often do. Far from it. The children are taught to think critically. They’re taught what kinds of questions they should be asking. If that leads them to atheism, so be it, but that’s not the goal of the camp.

If any 16-18-year-olds are interested, they can take part in AHS’ further education/schools conference on June 21st at Warwick University. They can contact or join the forums to find out more.

(via The Atheist Blogger)

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