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← Sunday School for Atheists

shmooth's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by shmooth

i started attending the Humanist Community meetings in Palo Alto, recently (the group with the Children's Program mentioned in the article) - it's been a great experience so far. best organization i've ever been involved with. i honestly don't know much about the kids program, so can't address specific questions, but i did meet at least three of the teachers/caretakers and they all seemed uber-nice and smart/thoughtful/caring/etc.

i've tried to reply to some of the comments where i felt i could add useful info, and i threw in a few links at the bottom.

This sounds a like they are trying to create 'Atheist children',

I doubt it. I suspect they're trying to raise 'good children' - good human beings, responsible citizens, etc.

atheists views being shoved down kids throats

It's important to note that Humanism is generally considered to encompass/envelope Atheism - at least, that's the way I think of it - and, as such, has a lot of ideas to bring to the table. The Children's Program, as it is called, is probabably just not what you think it is based on the title of the article. There is no 'Sunday School for Atheists'. I'd say there is a 'Sunday School for Humanists'. Big difference.

But what you would object to? Teaching kids to think critically? To be kind? To share and cooperate? To respect people, no matter how different they dress/look/act?

I think the point of this article was is quite helpful and even necessary to have some sort of corrective that will help these children to avoid this nasty fate.

i didn't see it so much as being 'corrective' - instead i'd say it was a information piece on an alternative place you can go with your children to be with a community of people who share your values - and you can do it without subscribing (or pretending to) belief in a supernatural power. i figure most people go to church for the community aspects of it - that stuff is awesome. if a supernatural power fell out of the church equation, i suspect people would hardly notice.

Sunday School for atheists? The concept is good but I'd rather it be called something else.

it's called The Children's Program.

I'm always disappointed when I read a great article like...and then I read the comments and see how many Atheists are frightened and contemptuous of this idea. There is really no basis for the criticism and disapproval of these efforts and programs as far I can see.

well said. constructive criticism is very welcomed, but to see the criticism of this program thrown out there with words like 'disgust' and 'indoctrination' and all sorts of stuff I've been reading - it reminds me of typical right-wing reactionary thinking. what's the basis?

It didn't matter that I bought into the religious crap as a kid. I still hated having to get dressed up and go to Sunday School and church.

i never bought into the religious stuff as a kid (that i remember; thank you very much), but i do remember generally not minding it. there were a whole bunch of kids in there - kids in the neighborhood i knew. we'd chill. talk. laugh. get yelled at by the teacher. and when we were done we'd go get mickey-d's, and it'd be all good. maybe that's why i've liked my experience with the Humanist Community so much so far - it's like a grown-up version of Sunday School w/o the God stuff. :-D

as for the kids, there are two groups - the really young ones are about as happy and energetic as any young kids seem to be - but we only see them when they all come into the big room for lunch afterwards. the few older kids - 8-14 age I'm guessing - they seem kinda bored after their class, but I have no idea what they're talking about during class, or whether they enjoy it or not.

I think this is a great idea. And I'm not even American.

plenty of humanist groups in Britain and around the world. just google, go check one out, and report back to us on your experience, please! ;-) actually, i'm very interested in being able to attend humanist group meetings when i travel.

we had a new couple show up this past week, in part because a grandma in Florida told them she saw an article on the group in the magazine. the couple had also heard good things before, apparently, and the article mention is what finally pushed them to try to check it out on their own. we'll see if they're back next week. :-)

UU church can be a nice stop-gap measure until (and if) these humanitarian communities are more widely available.

i've heard nothing but good stuff about the UU church(es) in palo alto.

I can understand though if someone wants to counter the religious education their child is getting (due to a religious spouse) that this would be a good thing.

i don't know this to be the case, but i wouldn't suspect that atheism is much of a topic of conversation in the Children's Program ('Sunday School' as the article title calls it). it's not in the regular/adult program.

why put something as important as your child's moral education in the hands of others

i guess if you have an hour of your time to dedicate to a sit-down session of 'moral lessons' for 52 weeks a year - sure, why not? but i suspect parents with kids in these programs know enough about the teachers and programs to trust that the detailed, focussed, and highly-developed lessons their kids will be learning would be a nice _addition_ to the moral values the parents try to instill in their children every day. just a guess, though - i don't have kids.

here is their website:

here are some videos of recent Sunday Forums:

there is lots of good info on the website, but a couple of quick pointers.

here is a brief about what the group calls The Children's Program - not 'Atheist Sunday School':

here is some history on how the program got started:

here is a link to a google map with all the current AHA (American Humanist Association) chapters and affiliates (there is a Canada map, as well):

if you have any questions, there is contact info on the website.

i'm not any kind of spokesperson for the group - just happen to be an internet junkie and i'm extremely excited about what the Humanist Community is doing. i wish i knew about them and groups like them years ago.


Mon, 26 Nov 2007 22:34:00 UTC | #86801