It was more than two years ago when a small group of atheists announced they were going to respond to a Christian club that targeted elementary school students with one of their own. In every school that permitted a “Good News Club,” they wanted to form a Young Skeptics group (naturally sponsored by “The Better News Club, Inc”).
Unlike the Christian group, which had every intention of proselytizing to kids and teaching them they were all sinners (which could easily be called a form of psychological abuse), the Young Skeptics focused on teaching kids how to think: “In Young Skeptics sessions, children are encouraged to ask questions, make discoveries, and challenge the ideas presented to them.” The first club began in 2015 in Churchville, New York.
We haven’t heard much from the group since then. In fact, The Satanic Temple’s version of the same thing — After School Satan clubs — have gotten far more media attention for obvious reasons.
Kevin Davis, Executive Director for Young Skeptics notes, “As an organization, it is clear to us that we will be far more effective in promoting critical thinking among the youth of our nation if we focus our energy on expansion, rather than solely growing our local presence. From the beginning, we’ve felt strongly that teaching our kids how to think, rather than what to think is essential in the Information Age, and that becomes clearer every day. We have the support of many groups who have been inspired to reach out to us to start a chapter, and we want to tap into that so that our mission is realized.”
So far, the response has been just as it should be: Respectful and drama-free, even among Christians.
“We’re just excited for the opportunity to teach kids that God loves them,” [director of the Central Coast chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship Darren] Johnson said. “We definitely respect the rights of different groups with opposing opinions. We understand and respect their decision to start (a Young Skeptics club) here.”
The first meeting was arguably a success for no other reason than it happened:
Atheists United chose to host the club first at Harloe because the school is one of the largest elementary schools in the county, has a Good News Club and was near two of the volunteer Young Skeptic instructors’ homes, [Atheists United spokesman David] Leidner said. He said they hope to open more chapters at other schools in the area in the future.
The first meeting of the club was held Thursday, with five students in attendance, ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. All students were enrolled by their parents via the school’s usual after-school program permission slip.
That’s fantastic. Even better? The first meeting focused on how to separate fact and opinion. Now there’s a topic the Good News Clubs would prefer to avoid…
Let’s be honest: This is only the second such group — and there are literally thousands of Good News Clubs out there. But it’s wonderful that some atheists are going through the motions to provide alternatives for children whose parents don’t want to see them indoctrinated into Christianity but long for a club where their kids can learn to think critically.
If you’d like to help the group expand even more rapidly, they’re holding a fundraiser and would appreciate any support you can offer.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)