Ask Richard: A Follow-Up Letter from a Teenage Atheist Four Years Later

Dear Richard,

I wrote to you back in 2009 when I was in the 8th grade and you really helped me and I wanted to thank you for that. I just recently rediscovered your blog and I figured I would write to you again. I’m now a senior in high school and in the time since the 8th grade I’ve completely reassessed my faith. For a little while I kept trying to be Christian, and for about a year I was. I feel like that was good for me though. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it’s a very unwise thing to completely disown one’s faith in middle school. I have, however, come to the conclusion that I am an atheist, and I honestly do not see that changing. I’m just worried about any fallout caused by this, and I don’t quite know how to approach certain situations that I face on a near daily basis. I’m trying to get some answers to questions preemptively in hopes that when I’m faced with these situations (either once again or someday in the future) I will know the best way to handle them.

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High Court Indicates Support for Indian Teacher’s Right Not to Pray

An update on a story I brought you last week: Sanjay Salve, a teacher in India, was denied traditional pay grade increases because of his refusal to visibly pray during a school assembly. According to The Hindu, however, his fortunes may be turning around.

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U.S. Religious Zealots Sneak Into Scottish Schools Without Parents’ Knowledge to ‘Help’ With Lesson Plans

It’s déjà vu all over again.

My previous post was about Christian worship in public Scottish schools and looked at the galling fact that all pupils are signed up for it automatically, no parental permission necessary.

As if on cue, I then came across a minty-fresh example of where this state-sponsored indoctrination can lead.

British newspaper the Daily Record just revealed that a U.S.-dispatched group of Christians, affiliated with the Church of Christ, has been helping out in Scottish schools. Head teacher Sandra MacKenzie (pictured below) of the 400-pupil Kirktonholme Primary School in East Kilbride knew what the missionaries were up to — the paper says she even invited them – but the kids’ parents were left in the dark. They only realized what was happening when their children came home with Creationist books they had been given at assembly. The books

… denounce the theory of evolution and warn pupils that, without God, they risk being murdered in a harmful, disgusting world.

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Scottish National Church Is Livid Over Proposal To Ask Parents If Kids Should Worship in Public Schools

I hate online stores that begin sending you a barrage of promotional e-mails as soon as you place an order. They’re “opt-out” merchants, telling you belatedly — in tiny type — that you must choose not to receive their ads (to their credit, this is usually a quick and painless process, but by the time I do it, they’ve already put a bad taste in my mouth).

Like most consumers, I much prefer the opt-in approach. Some merchants and brands are of enough interest to me that I like receiving their newsletters and special offers, and I’ll actively sign up. I would prefer that decision to be mine from the get-go, obviously, and I’ll wager that you feel the same way.

The same thing goes for religion, times ten. It’s unwise to assume that I or my kids are dying to be anointed with religious snake oil, so please don’t sign us up unbidden for anything related to your phantasmagorical beliefs.

In short, don’t be like Scotland.

If you have children in a Scottish school, it is assumed that you want them automatically enrolled in religious instruction as well as in actual worship. To say “No thanks,” you have to fill out paperwork to permanently excuse your tykes from the Jesus-y goodness that is so kindly proffered.

Why doesn’t the assumption run the other way — with the default being that no child ought to be subjected to state-sponsored religious indoctrination unless parents explicitly sign their offspring up for it?

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Yale Humanist Community Makes First Hires

While they’re still working on creating a position for a Humanist Chaplain, the Yale Humanist Community has made their first hires and they’re both fantastic additions: Paul Chiariello (Director of Operations) and Chris Stedman (Coordinator of Humanist Life).

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