Saturday, July 03, 2010

A Summer Camp For Atheist And Agnostic Kids

Being an atheist parent can be tough in America.  One reason is that atheist parents are concerned with teaching their children to think for themselves, and christian parents... well, aren't.  If the Jesus Camp movie scared the hell out of you (pun intended), cheer up: Now there's a summer camp for atheist and agnostic kids:

Most of the time, the kids do normal camp stuff such as hike, compete in relay races, sit around campfires.  But the overarching philosophy is that life without religion is a perfectly healthy, viable option.

Really?  You mean you don't have to scare your kids into believing that if they misbehave or don't accept Jeebus, they're going to burn in hell for eternity?  That does sound like a healthy option!

And no, it's not simply a place to bash christianity.  They focus on freethinking.

Katie Hladky, an atheist pursuing a doctorate in American religious history, teaches daily lessons about world religions and their belief systems.  Hladky won't bad-mouth faith or tell the kids what to think, she said.

"I feel really strongly these kids shouldn't be indoctrinated," she said. Many of the campers, who range in age from 8 to 17, "don't know what they are" yet when it comes to beliefs.  But Hladky doesn't shy away from controversial discussions. When talking about Islam, she told the campers about the debate in France about whether women are oppressed by wearing burqas or whether it should be their personal choice. She detailed the diverse views within Christianity on homosexuality.

Still, a little humor is a good thing:

Despite the emphasis on open-mindedness, poking fun at faith isn't forbidden.  Each day, the kids split into teams for competitions such as the human-knot race, where teams form a circle and grab hands at random in a tangle. They race up and down a field, then have to unwind the knot without releasing hands.  The team names included the Flaming Messiahs, a nod to the incinerated "Touchdown Jesus" sculpture north of Cincinnati struck by lightning last week, and the Dinosaur Jesus Riders, whose cheer goes like this: "Yeehaw, ride that Jesus!"

Yeehaw, indeed.

Read the entire article here at USA Today.  And remember to follow The Martian Anthropologist on Twitter!