The “World’s First Atheist Orphanage” is Seeking Funding… but I Don’t Feel Comfortable Giving Them Any Money February 25, 2015

The “World’s First Atheist Orphanage” is Seeking Funding… but I Don’t Feel Comfortable Giving Them Any Money

We’ve posted several articles on this site about the impact atheists have had in Kasese, Uganda, especially with the local Kasese Humanist Primary School.

Now, local atheists are trying to build an orphanage that will be connected to the school — and they need funding.

Zoltan Istvan — one of the orphanage’s founders — writes for Vice:

The crowdsourcing campaign is seeking start-up funds of approximately $4,500 — that amount will fund the construction of a home for 15-20 orphans, provide it with furniture, and feed the orphans for one year.

“BiZoHa Orphanage intends to be economically self-sufficient within one year of opening its doors,” the project’s co-coordinator, Hank Pellissier, of the Brighter Brain’s Institute [sic], told me. “This goal will be achieved by selling corn, beans, cassava, peanuts, and lettuce grown on its 7-acre crop farm, which is part of the proposed orphanage.”

Orphans who attend BiZoHa will get a shot at education, and be able to attend the Kasese Humanist Primary School, which [Bwambale] Robert founded in 2011. Many graduates of KHPS advance to secondary schools and even universities, like Robert did.

That sounds absolutely wonderful. However, that’s not the whole story.

At first, I thought the orphanage would just be managed by Humanists — hence the whole “atheist orphanage” title — but it turns out there’s a little more to it than that:

“That’s why we need a declared atheist orphanage,” Pellissier says. “We want to teach the kids there about science, secularism, and what it means to be an atheist. We also need to stand up for the values we believe in.”

I’m fine with teaching science and critical thinking skills — if that’s what they mean — but I have as much of a problem with irreligious indoctrination as I do the usual kind. To push atheism upon kids — especially those who really have no other option — rubs me the wrong way. What “values” are they being taught? What, in the founders’ opinion, does it mean to be an atheist? What would they do with children who say they believe in a god?

Pellissier, who considers himself open to spirituality, says that orphans who are religious will be welcomed into the orphanage. But the education, culture, and emphasis will be on an atheist and secular experience.

I hope this is just a case of sloppy journalism and that they mean the education and culture the kids receive just won’t be religious in nature… but if they’re crossing the line into actively teaching kids that God doesn’t exist, I’d feel very uncomfortable telling anyone to support them. If Christians did something similar, we’d call it brainwashing. Even though I agree with the Humanists on the God issue, it’s something the children must figure out for themselves.

Teach them how to ask questions. Teach them to respect the scientific method. But don’t teach them to reject God before they’re old enough to fully understand how religion works.

Atheists can help these kids without pressuring them to adopt a non-religious stance themselves.

The crowdfunding campaign page is here if you’re interested. I have no plans to make a donation.

(Thanks to Joe for the link)


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