Go to Sunday School!

No, not that one.

This one.

Sunday school for atheists:

An estimated 14% of Americans profess to have no religion, and among 18-to-25-year-olds, the proportion rises to 20%, according to the Institute for Humanist Studies. The lives of these young people would be much easier, adult nonbelievers say, if they learned at an early age how to respond to the God-fearing majority in the U.S.

It would definitely help. So many young atheists live in fear of telling anyone, even close friends, what they believe.

A good friend of mine is featured in the article and she explains the need for this type of “atheist education”:

Bri Kneisley, who sent her son Damian, 10, to Camp Quest Ohio this past summer, welcomes the sense of community these new choices offer him: “He’s a child of atheist parents, and he’s not the only one in the world.”

Kneisley, 26, a graduate student at the University of Missouri, says she realized Damian needed to learn about secularism after a neighbor showed him the Bible. “Damian was quite certain this guy was right and was telling him this amazing truth that I had never shared,” says Kneisley. In most ways a traditional sleep-away camp–her son loved canoeing–Camp Quest also taught Damian critical thinking, world religions and tales of famous freethinkers (an umbrella term for atheists, agnostics and other rationalists) like the black abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

I think the obvious question that non-non-believers might have is: What do you teach at an Atheist Sunday School?

(And, no, the acronym is not lost on me. Ha ha. Very funny. Let’s move on now.)

One Sunday this fall found a dozen children up to age 6 and several parents playing percussion instruments and singing empowering anthems like I’m Unique and Unrepeatable, set to the tune of Ten Little Indians, instead of traditional Sunday-school songs like Jesus Loves Me. Rather than listen to a Bible story, the class read Stone Soup, a secular parable of a traveler who feeds a village by making a stew using one ingredient from each home.

Down the hall in the kitchen, older kids engaged in a Socratic conversation with class leader Bishop about the role persuasion plays in decision-making. He tried to get them to see that people who are coerced into renouncing their beliefs might not actually change their minds but could be acting out of self-preservation–an important lesson for young atheists who may feel pressure to say they believe in God.

It’s a positive piece on atheism in Time magazine!

Not too shabby at all.

Many thanks to Jeninne Lee-St. John, who wrote the article.

The piece also features the picture below (taken by Kathrin Miller) of “Sunday morning at The Children’s Program at the Humanist Community of Palo Alto, California”:

AtheistSundaySchool

I’m jealous.

Can someone lend me a child so I can attend these classes?

(via The Freethinker)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • Bri

    You can borrow mine whenever you’d like. I’d go with you, but I think that sleeping in on Sundays is one of the best perks to being an atheist…

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    The children’s song “I’m Unique and Unrepeatable” is also used in Unitarian Universalists Sunday School programs and is used in several UU curricula.

    Since UUs are a non-creedal religion, many of our members are Atheist, Agnostic, and Humanist.

    Since we’re a covenental religion where how we treat each other is more important than having a shared belief system, we’re very similar to the Ethical Culture Society ideal of “deed before creed.”

    The UU option may be useful for North American parents who cannot find an Ethical Culture Society class or Humanist sunday school class for their kids.

    Plus UUs also offer one of the best comprehensive sexuality education programs using the best available guidelines from public health and medical professionals for children, adolescents, and adults.

  • Lou Doench

    How long would this “lending” entail? Cuz my wife and I could really use a vacation. Just a 4 day weekend. That would be sweet. Thanx.

    I’ll poke some holes in the box.

  • Mriana

    COOL! I could go for that.

    Sorry, Hemant. My children aren’t too much younger than you are. You could say you are they big brother. :lol: But alas, they are too old for that Sunday School Class.

    Great thing is, I could take my future grandchildren to something like that. :D My older son said he wouldn’t mind if in the future he gives me grandkids, that I send them to Camp Quest. I’m gonna do it too!

  • Kate

    I have a problem with children being called atheists just as much as I have a problem with labeling them as Christian, Jewish (unless by heritage), etc. I think a camp like that is great, but can we just let kids be KIDS without slapping a religious label on them?!?!

  • http://my-faith.blogspot.com/ Should I Really Use My Real Name?

    One Sunday this fall found a dozen children up to age 6 and several parents playing percussion instruments and singing empowering anthems like I’m Unique and Unrepeatable, set to the tune of Ten Little Indians, instead of traditional Sunday-school songs like Jesus Loves Me. Rather than listen to a Bible story, the class read Stone Soup, a secular parable of a traveler who feeds a village by making a stew using one ingredient from each home.

    Down the hall in the kitchen, older kids engaged in a Socratic conversation with class leader Bishop about the role persuasion plays in decision-making. He tried to get them to see that people who are coerced into renouncing their beliefs might not actually change their minds but could be acting out of self-preservation–an important lesson for young atheists who may feel pressure to say they believe in God.

    It’s kind of ironic how similar that is to a contemporary Church Sunday School… I’m Unique and Unrepeatable could easily be a Christian anthem about how God creates us as unique individuals… Stone Soup is a favourite of my children, and could easily be used along side the story of the Feeding of the 5,000, or as a simple tale of how working together, or working with the community, etc…. and talking with the older kids about persuasion would be great as it can be hard being the only Christian kid in your class. You might want to down play the existence of God just to fit in….

    Sounds like atheists are becoming more and more like Christians every day….

  • http://aboutkitty.blogspot.com/ Cat’s Staff

    Could someone organize a conference of the groups who currently have children’s programs with the purpose of coming up with a curriculum that can be used by other groups interested in starting similar programs?

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I understand the impulse behind this sort of thing. Atheist parents need help raising their children according to their own beliefs as much as religious parents do. I don’t think it’s a bad idea personally.

    However, just for consistency’s sake, shouldn’t Richard Dawkins be decrying this as child abuse too?

  • Jen

    Atheist Sunday School Lesson Plan:

    1. Sleeping in- why it is good for you
    2. Dealing with religious classmates
    a. Try not to roll your eyes
    b. Going to Christian Sunday School- how to get a cupcake and leave
    c. To stand or not to stand during the Pledge
    3. Applying the Scientific Method to things people tell you
    a. A history of snake oil
    b. The stars are not going to tell you what your lucky number is
    4. Values
    a. Pre-martial sex is fun
    b. But that doesn’t mean you can kill people
    c. Why giving in to one instinct is not the same as killing people, though religious conservatives seem to think it is
    d. Use a condom, and other lessons in birth control

    Sounds good to me!

  • Mriana

    Jen, I think the sex ed section is a little advanced for 4 y.o. I don’t think 4 y.o. are thinking about getting laid. Of course, 10 and up now days might be able to use that info.

  • Mriana

    MikeClawson said,

    November 25, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    I understand the impulse behind this sort of thing. Atheist parents need help raising their children according to their own beliefs as much as religious parents do. I don’t think it’s a bad idea personally.

    However, just for consistency’s sake, shouldn’t Richard Dawkins be decrying this as child abuse too?

    That’s my problem with Dawkins too. If we don’t tell our children what we believe and take them with us when we go to wherever we choose to go, how are they going to know anything? We don’t have to force them to believe what we believe, but they should know and they need to come with us. If we left them behind to go to church or facsimile, then where is the family activities, socializing, and alike? They can’t learn to socialize unless we take them with us wherever we go, until they are old enough to make their own choices.

    So part of it is socialization too. Not just indoctrination into whatever the parents want their children to be.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I agree Mriana. Has Dawkins ever had kids of his own? He comes across as a little naive about the processes of childhood development if he thinks it’s possible to raise your kids without any influencing exposure to one’s own guiding beliefs and values.

  • Jen

    Opps, Mriana, I thought these groups included older children, though I didn’t read the article. I was thinking more along the lines about how my friend in high school who attended Unitarian Sunday School in junior high had a sex education that was diverse and realistic.

  • grazatt

    MikeClawson , I think Dawkins does.

  • Gary Charbonneau

    I understand the impulse behind this sort of thing. Atheist parents need help raising their children according to their own beliefs as much as religious parents do. I don’t think it’s a bad idea personally.

    However, just for consistency’s sake, shouldn’t Richard Dawkins be decrying this as child abuse too?

    Here’s what Dawkins actually says:

    What I think may be abuse is labeling children with religious labels like Catholic child and Muslim child. I find it very odd that in our civilization we’re quite happy to speak of a Catholic child that is 4 years old or a Muslim of child that is 4, when these children are much too young to know what they think about the cosmos, life and morality. We wouldn’t dream of speaking of a Keynesian child or a Marxist child. And yet, for some reason we make a privileged exception of religion. And, by the way, I think it would also be abuse to talk about an atheist child.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Here’s what Dawkins actually says:

    What I think may be abuse is labeling children with religious labels like Catholic child and Muslim child. I find it very odd that in our civilization we’re quite happy to speak of a Catholic child that is 4 years old or a Muslim of child that is 4, when these children are much too young to know what they think about the cosmos, life and morality. We wouldn’t dream of speaking of a Keynesian child or a Marxist child. And yet, for some reason we make a privileged exception of religion. And, by the way, I think it would also be abuse to talk about an atheist child.

    Yes, exactly as I thought.

  • Mriana

    MikeClawson said,

    November 25, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    I agree Mriana. Has Dawkins ever had kids of his own? He comes across as a little naive about the processes of childhood development if he thinks it’s possible to raise your kids without any influencing exposure to one’s own guiding beliefs and values.

    He had a son who died.

    Jen said,

    November 25, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Opps, Mriana, I thought these groups included older children, though I didn’t read the article. I was thinking more along the lines about how my friend in high school who attended Unitarian Sunday School in junior high had a sex education that was diverse and realistic.

    :lol: A picture says a thousand words too. ;)

  • http://my-faith.blogspot.com/ Should I Really Use My Real Name?

    What I think may be abuse is labeling children with religious labels like Catholic child and Muslim child. I find it very odd that in our civilization we’re quite happy to speak of a Catholic child that is 4 years old or a Muslim of child that is 4, when these children are much too young to know what they think about the cosmos, life and morality. We wouldn’t dream of speaking of a Keynesian child or a Marxist child. And yet, for some reason we make a privileged exception of religion. And, by the way, I think it would also be abuse to talk about an atheist child.

    So what do I call my children? As far as I know, most children (teens exempt) want to be like their parents, so if their parents are (Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Gay) what would be so wrong with identifying with their parents chosen label?

    When the time comes that they are old enough to make a choice for themselves, they will then decide if the label fits them, and if it doesn’t they will choose their own label.

    All my children consider themselves to be Christian, and it’s not a label we’ve given them, its one they’ve decided to wear as a badge of honour because their parents wear it.

    Is it really child abuse for a child to want to be like their parents?

    And if we must abolish labeling our kids altogether, then do we have to strip their nationality away as well? How could we possibly label our kids (American, Kiwi, British) if they might some day decide to leave their home country and become a citizen of another?

    I used to be a British Atheist, now I’m a Kiwi Christian…. though my parents never labeled me ‘British’ or ‘Atheist’…

  • Gary Charbonneau

    So what do I call my children? As far as I know, most children (teens exempt) want to be like their parents, so if their parents are (Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Gay) what would be so wrong with identifying with their parents chosen label?

    I think Dawkins causes himself needless difficulty by resorting to the phrase “child abuse.” If you leave that phrase aside, the point he’s making is really quite unexceptional: Don’t call people who aren’t Christians “Christians” (or “Muslims” etc.). Very young children can’t be Christians, or Muslims, or atheists. Those categories are not hereditary.

    And if we must abolish labeling our kids altogether, then do we have to strip their nationality away as well? How could we possibly label our kids (American, Kiwi, British) if they might some day decide to leave their home country and become a citizen of another?

    Apples and oranges. In the United States, per Amendment 14 to our Constitution, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” This is simply a matter of straightforward constitutional law and is true regardless of age. Although I am not familiar with either New Zealand or British citizenship law, my guess is that something similar probably applies in both of those countries as well.

  • http://my-faith.blogspot.com/ Should I Really Use My Real Name?

    Very young children can’t be Christians, or Muslims, or atheists.

    Depends on what you define as ‘very young’ and ‘Christian’ (etc) really.

    An interesting thing about an Atheist Sunday School is why would you have one? Are the parents needing to be at a weekly Atheist meeting (do Atheist’s have weekly meetings?) or is this just a form of sending your kids off to be brainwashed for no apparent reason… ;)

    Modern Sunday School in Christian Churches seems to be more about letting the adults do their thing, whilst not having the inconvenience of kids around, where as Sunday School was originally created in England as a way for the Church to reach out to a largely uneducated society, offering their children a weekly lesson in reading and writing…. damn those Christians for trying to brainwash illiterate kids!

  • Deanna

    First, I have two children, and I keep telling them, you are children of atheists. I don’t want to hear them proclaim to anyone, “I’m an atheist,” at least not until they are 18, just like I tell people, “I was raised Catholic”. It doesn’t mean I was Catholic, just raised that way. And, I’m raising my kids as atheists. It’s their call what they call themselves as adults.

    We have looked into the Universalist Unitarian Church, but my kids are not ready to give up their Sunday morning sleep-in. They do feel a bit lonely as children of atheists, but they have gone to Camp Quest for the past two summers, and I think knowing they are going back for a 3rd CQ in 2008 tides them over. They can handle 51 weeks of religion rhetoric until their one week of Camp Quest, where they are with “their people” as they call their fellow-campers.

  • Jen

    Later that year, Dawkins married Eve Barham – with whom he had a daughter, Juliet Emma Dawkins, in 1984 – but they, too, divorced.

    I looked it up on Wiki, and this was all I found about Dawkins having a kid- there was no mention of a possibly dead child.

    A picture says a thousand words too.

    You got me there. The article did say there were older kids down the hall, though, and besides, I can never figure out how old children are.

    As to the raising children with or without religion debate…

    I am not a parent, of course, but I was a child. I think it is a lot more difficult to truly shed the lables our parents give us than some people are saying. This seems especially true of religion, and especially of Christianity. I think part of it is that our society doesn’t tend to question many Christian beliefs in any real way. For instance, we may be able to question the general belief in Christianity that it is wrong to be gay, but not the belief that Jesus may not have existed. I also think part of it is that the other religious options, or irreligious options, are less visible to the masses. There is also human nature to stick to the status quo, and a lot of people don’t question their beliefs in a meaningful way unless something extremely bad happens to them. And finally, when the religion is shoved down your throat as a small child, and your parents truly believe that other options will send your soul to hell, they are not going to introduce you to other ideas in a meaningful way.

    I am not saying it is impossible, but though out school I don’t remember too many people changing religions. I remember several conversions to (new, more intense branches of) Christianity through youth groups, but no one who became an atheist or a Muslim or anything like that.

    It was fairly easy for me to change political beliefs, but that was probably because my parents’ votes cancel each other out, and because my change occured in college.

  • Mriana

    I looked it up on Wiki, and this was all I found about Dawkins having a kid- there was no mention of a possibly dead child.

    Not so reliable Wiki. I think it is either on his site or in a book, but not sure which book. I know I read it some where.

  • Allison

    In some ways I think it’s a good idea, though personally I’m not entirely sure I see the need. If I did I’d probably be at a UU church.

    I don’t know — I have a constant discussion going with my kids about religion. Dh and I have different beliefs, so that may help, but my 4 yo knows some of the Jesus stories already. He also knows Anansi stories, stories about the Greek gods, and so on, and I don’t make much distinction among them. My 7 yo currently thinks the Greek gods are a heck of a lot more fun and interesting than the Christian one and that Norse creation mythology is a real hoot. We have the talk about how some people believe in this place called Heaven and what it is when we talk about death or at other times the subject comes up (we live in the South, where Christians are very aggressive about telling you what they believe, and people tend to assume that because the kids are behaving well, they’re being raised as “good Christians”). I grew up a non-believer with some very religious relatives and friends, so I have a bit of a feel for how to cope and we just make our community elsewhere. Some of the religious gifts the kids receive get kept and we use them as teaching tools, although probably not in the same manner the giver intended.

    Mike, I’m not a huge Dawson fan (there, I admitted it!), but I wanted to address this:

    He comes across as a little naive about the processes of childhood development if he thinks it’s possible to raise your kids without any influencing exposure to one’s own guiding beliefs and values.

    I actually agree with him on the quote provided — I don’t think I would call it abuse, but I do think it’s disrespecting the child as a person separate from the parents. I think it would be a real disservice to call my kids “atheist” just because I am. I don’t think that means raising them without influences, just that you don’t tell them what they are. One way or the other, they will decide that for themselves later on, and it may be a long journey. It’s not mine to make. The best I can do is tell them what I believe, what dh believes, and expose them to other ideas so we can talk about them in more detail. One day my oldest will declare himself an atheist, the next he declares he believes in the Greek pantheon. Occasionally he tries on Christianity but then he decides the God in the Bible is a pretty nasty dude, especially at the times he does something like run across the Exodus story.

    Kids want to be like their parents, yes, and may do things like identify with their parents’ political beliefs at a young age as well. I’ve met people who treated political issues in a way with their small children as some people do with religion — I’ve known preschoolers who told their classmates they were going to Hell because their parents voted Republican, and the kids were identified by their parents as Democrats. Um, yes, the kids want to be like their parents and will express views similar to those their parents do, you can explain why you believe what you believe, but ultimately the child will make up his or her own mind and it’s a disservice to call the kid a Democrat or a Republican just because you are one. You may talk freely about your views around your children, but ultimately they grow up and decide for themselves. I think that sort of indoctrination by one’s parents is awfully difficult to deal with, especially when one is under their roof. I know many atheists who hid from their parents the fact that they didn’t believe until they left home, and often even well after that, just like I’ve known people whose political affiliations changed dramatically when they left home.

    I called myself atheist at some points during my childhood, but I also was free to learn about other religions (and not only through my parents’ eyes, I went to Sunday school for a while at a non-denominational church, talked to rabbis, etc). So I was exposed to other religious beliefs at the hands of the believers themselves. In many ways I think that was better for me — I grew up around Christians who did things like try to teach me that Hindus worshipped a cow as God, etc. When Christians tried to educate me about other religions they usually screwed it up pretty well, and I knew the things they said about atheists didn’t ring true, so I knew about how far to trust them about the other stuff.

    This subject always reminds me of a text by Kahlil Gibran that is near to my heart:

    Your children are not your children,
    They are the sons and the daughter of life’s longing for itself.
    They come through you, but not from you,
    And though they are with you, they belong not to you.
    You can give them your love but not your thoughts.
    They have their own thoughts.
    You can house their bodies but not their souls,
    For their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
    You may strive to be like them,
    But you cannot make them just like you.

    Sorry for the novel!

  • http://humanists.org/ Peter

    Could someone organize a conference of the groups who currently have children’s programs…

    you’re hired! ;-)

    personally, i’d just try to find out what _one_ group is teaching, first – not mess with a whole consortium of orgs.

    there are email addresses and other contact info available on the website:
    http://humanists.org/

    you could also try:
    http://humaniststudies.org/fund/humanistcommunity.html

  • Maria

    I have a problem with children being called atheists just as much as I have a problem with labeling them as Christian, Jewish (unless by heritage), etc. I think a camp like that is great, but can we just let kids be KIDS without slapping a religious label on them?!?!

    I agree.

    I think Dawkins causes himself needless difficulty by resorting to the phrase “child abuse.” If you leave that phrase aside, the point he’s making is really quite unexceptional: Don’t call people who aren’t Christians “Christians” (or “Muslims” etc.). Very young children can’t be Christians, or Muslims, or atheists. Those categories are not hereditary.

    well said

  • Darryl

    Gary Charbonneau:

    Here’s what Dawkins actually says:

    What I think may be abuse is labeling children with religious labels like Catholic child and Muslim child. I find it very odd that in our civilization we’re quite happy to speak of a Catholic child that is 4 years old or a Muslim of child that is 4, when these children are much too young to know what they think about the cosmos, life and morality. We wouldn’t dream of speaking of a Keynesian child or a Marxist child. And yet, for some reason we make a privileged exception of religion. And, by the way, I think it would also be abuse to talk about an atheist child.

    Mike C.:

    Yes, exactly as I thought.

    Yes, but less than you thought.

  • http://my-faith.blogspot.com/ Should I Really Use My Real Name?

    Jewish (unless by heritage)

    So Jews have exclusive rights to their faith being a part of their heritage? I’d be interested to see your reasoning for that!

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Yes, but less than you thought.

    huh?

  • Julie

    An interesting thing about an Atheist Sunday School is why would you have one? Are the parents needing to be at a weekly Atheist meeting (do Atheist’s have weekly meetings?) or is this just a form of sending your kids off to be brainwashed for no apparent reason…

    I grew up with an atheist father and a spiritual mother. I was always a little jealous of Sunday school. It just sounded like a fun, social thing to do. My parents let me go to church and Sunday school with friends. It never really stuck for me, but I liked some of the activities and the songs. I think having a place to go on Sunday for kids of atheists is more about the social aspect and just not feeling lonely. I probably would have loved it as a kid. Then I could have told my friends I went to Sunday school, too.

    Community is good. One of the things church provides so well is community. I love that kind of thing. I’m sure there are religious people who never go to church at all, and there are atheists who don’t need a Sunday meeting. But you know, some of us like to be with other people and chit chat and hang out.

    As far as brainwashing….well, is it brainwashing to teach critical thinking? I would hope that even kids who eventually decide to become religious would truly benefit from critical thinking.

    My parents did let us decide our own beliefs and were just honest about theirs. I don’t actually recall this part of my upbringing ever, ever being a problem. I thought it was the sanest thing to do, and I still do. Kids are remarkably open to logic, actually. If you’re straight up with them, they dig it. I did.

  • Claire

    So Jews have exclusive rights to their faith being a part of their heritage? I’d be interested to see your reasoning for that

    I thought it was pretty clear Kate was talking about their ethnic identity rather than their religious identity.

  • Vincent

    There’s a group in Washington DC that does Sunday School.
    While it’s not an expressly atheist group, the Washington Ethical Society promotes ethical development without reference to any supernatural force, and I believe they are all atheists. Personally I think they are all atheists who for whatever reason choose not to associate themselves with the atheist term, perhaps because it would distract from their focus, which is teaching ethics.

    http://www.ethicalsociety.org/program.php?id=34&PHPSESSID=545dd32d31c0c035080d6b238f2cffc6

  • Peter

    there are groups that are atheist, but hold onto their culture, like ‘Humanist Judaism’ – or, something like that:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanistic_Judaism

    technically, i’m probably into ‘Futbolist Humanism’ or something like that. :)

  • Mriana

    Should I Really Use My Real Name? said,

    November 26, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    Jewish (unless by heritage)

    So Jews have exclusive rights to their faith being a part of their heritage? I’d be interested to see your reasoning for that!

    I don’t think they have exclusive rights. Their is Islamic Humanism too. Also people don’t believe me, but Christianity does have a culture. Look in the various churches- Anglicans have a culture, Catholics, although their service is much like Anglicans and vise versa, they do too. There are high churches and low churches. Many Protestant chruches are low churches. I’d say the Mega Churches are low church, because they don’t have the robes, candles and what not, BUT they do have the fanfair, which could classify them as high church.

    Even so there is a certain culture there that is unique to that religious heritage and the non-religious or other religions don’t have. It’s a lot easier to put one’s finger on it with the extreme high and extreme low churches though. Step into an Anglican/Episcopal (used interchangable on) high church just once and be very observant to EVERYTHING, including the Prayer book (The book of Common Prayer). Then go to a Catholic high church. They are the same, yet you can put your finger on a slight difference, unless the Anglican is done in high English and the Catholic in Latin of course. After all of that, go to a church of God or other Evangelical Fundamentalist Church.

    They are different, but once you walk into a synagogue or mosque you will see a vast difference- even in the U.S. The Catholic has a Latin origin, Anglican has a English origin, and the Evangelical… I don’t know, but it is a culture shock IMHO.

    The point is, most people of these various sects (esp Catholic and Episcopalians- English/British) also cling to their heritage as much as Jews and Islamics cling to theirs. I honesty think those that say there is no culture in Christianity have not explored it enough to make a definitive conclusion.

  • Julie Willey

    One thing that the on-line version of the article doesn’t have that the print version includes is the caption to the photo: Group effort: Willey, with book, and other parents take turns leading the classes in Palo Alto, Calif.

    The program is run as a coop…meaning the families take turns running the activities/topics. This way they can present topics which are real in their lives. At least one parent is often with their child. Our family would not drag ourselves up in morning on Sunday so that our kids can be indoctrinated.

    I totally understand the doubts about an Atheist Sunday School…we call ourselves the Humanist Family Program…but regardless of what we call ourselves, we are just a group of families who want:

    1. a safe environment for our families to grow
    2. other families we can really connect with, relate to and talk to

    In general our family wants to raise our kids to feel empowered to make a difference in their world, guided by a sense of what _they_ can see is ‘right or wrong.’ We want them to posses the tools to do this and the environment to try out these ‘tools.’

    Though we can discuss and do many of these things (as we do) just within our family, I think the experience is deepened when other families are involved. It’s amazing what perspectives I will have missed that others will have caught on. I also hope that it will help as they get older to see peers and other adults which value open and constructive discussions.

    I learn so much from the other kids and parents. So that’s why it’s called a Family Program. It’s just as much for the parents as it is for the kids.

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