Church camp for atheists

Atheists are seemingly doing everything they can to organize themselves into a religion.  Apparently they just don’t believe in the content of religion but are fine with the rituals, culture, and institutions of religion and want versions for themselves.   Remember church camp, where children go off into the semi-wild for fun, crafts, fellowship, and above all religious instruction and experience?  Well, the atheists now have the exact same thing for their kids:

Camp Quest Chesapeake is a summer camp for atheists. Or the children of atheists. Plus: agnostics, secular humanists, freethinkers and other self-identified members of the non-religious community. This summer is the camp’s first appearance in the Mid-Atlantic — the second-largest launch in Camp Quest history.

The first Camp Quest opened in the Cincinnati area in 1996, founded by Edwin Kagin, a former Eagle Scout who was annoyed with the religious overtones in modern Boy Scouting. Camp Quest had about 20 campers. In 2002, it incorporated, launching a branch in Tennessee. A few years ago the organization hired its first paid employee. There are now 10 Camp Quests in North America and a few more in Europe. . . .

“Think of how many hundreds of religious camps there are in this country,” Kagin says. (The Christian Camp and Conference Association alone has 865 members, and there are many more who don’t belong to the organization.) “Camp Quest is a night light in a dark and scary room for children of freethinking parents.”The site for Camp Chesapeake was the group’s second choice. They originally tried to rent from a Methodist camp, but the Methodists edged away when they learned whom they were renting to. One religious blog has dubbed Camp Quest a “Re-Education camp.”

“We want kids to know what critical thinking is, and how to use it,” says Menon, whose day job is with the federal government. “And there’s an ethics component. We want kids to know that they should do the right thing” even if they don’t believe in heaven.

Which some might. Camp Quest offers daily lectures on world religions from an informational perspective. Also, lectures about famous freethinkers such as iconic physicist Richard Feynman and “Harry Potter” star Daniel Radcliffe.

Other atheist camp activities include atheist swimming, atheist nature hikes and atheist stargazing.

via Camp Quest is atheists’ answer to Bible school – The Washington Post.

Christians are generally criticized when they attempt to baptize every little thing so that there is a Christian version, as opposed to a non-Christian version of secular activities.  But I’ve never heard of Christian swimming.  But there is atheist swimming.

I wonder if there are some atheists who say things like, “I don’t believe in organized atheism, but I am a very materialistic person.”

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    “And there’s an ethics component. We want kids to know that they should do the right thing”

    So, where’d this “right thing” idea come from?

  • Pete

    “And there’s an ethics component. We want kids to know that they should do the right thing”

    So, where’d this “right thing” idea come from?

  • James Sarver

    ““We want kids to know what critical thinking is, and how to use it,”

    Yeah, right. As long as the critical thinking process leads them to the ‘correct’ conclusion, as defined by the directors of the camp. Anybody who comes to a different conclusion just doesn’t ‘get’ critical thinking.

    Like most institutions that claim to teach critical thinking, I suspect this one will produce many who think of themselves as critical thinkers and very few who actually are.

  • James Sarver

    ““We want kids to know what critical thinking is, and how to use it,”

    Yeah, right. As long as the critical thinking process leads them to the ‘correct’ conclusion, as defined by the directors of the camp. Anybody who comes to a different conclusion just doesn’t ‘get’ critical thinking.

    Like most institutions that claim to teach critical thinking, I suspect this one will produce many who think of themselves as critical thinkers and very few who actually are.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    So, some atheist parents want their kids to be indoctrinated to be atheistic much as religious parents want their kids to be indoctrinated to be religious. That isn’t exactly ‘free’. They want to be sure that not only is the camp non religious, but that all of the parents of the kids are promoting atheism so that the kids sitting next to their kids won’t be influencing them with religious ideas.

    There are only a ton of non religious camps out there already.

    My kids have gone to them and had a great time, but the parents and kids come from a mix of religious and secular views. They aren’t anti religion, rather just focused on something else like science or sports etc.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    So, some atheist parents want their kids to be indoctrinated to be atheistic much as religious parents want their kids to be indoctrinated to be religious. That isn’t exactly ‘free’. They want to be sure that not only is the camp non religious, but that all of the parents of the kids are promoting atheism so that the kids sitting next to their kids won’t be influencing them with religious ideas.

    There are only a ton of non religious camps out there already.

    My kids have gone to them and had a great time, but the parents and kids come from a mix of religious and secular views. They aren’t anti religion, rather just focused on something else like science or sports etc.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Yeah, right. As long as the critical thinking process leads them to the ‘correct’ conclusion, as defined by the directors of the camp. Anybody who comes to a different conclusion just doesn’t ‘get’ critical thinking.

    How is this any different from what a Christian parent wants? I guess you could say there are those who don’t care if you learn how to think, but are more concerned with their children being unquestioning parrots. Yet, I don’t see what they are doing at the atheist camp as much different than why we send kids to camps and retreats.

    I wonder if there are some atheists who say things like, “I don’t believe in organized atheism, but I am a very materialistic person.”

    ROFL, I bet there are.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Yeah, right. As long as the critical thinking process leads them to the ‘correct’ conclusion, as defined by the directors of the camp. Anybody who comes to a different conclusion just doesn’t ‘get’ critical thinking.

    How is this any different from what a Christian parent wants? I guess you could say there are those who don’t care if you learn how to think, but are more concerned with their children being unquestioning parrots. Yet, I don’t see what they are doing at the atheist camp as much different than why we send kids to camps and retreats.

    I wonder if there are some atheists who say things like, “I don’t believe in organized atheism, but I am a very materialistic person.”

    ROFL, I bet there are.

  • Dennis Peskey

    “We want kids to know that they should do the right thing” even if they don’t believe in heaven.” Based upon What??? Critical thinking is acceptable so long as God is excluded – but what then is the basis for their “ethics component”?
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    “We want kids to know that they should do the right thing” even if they don’t believe in heaven.” Based upon What??? Critical thinking is acceptable so long as God is excluded – but what then is the basis for their “ethics component”?
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#5 You should see atheists argue about what should be the basis of their ethics and what is acceptable ethics, it is actually quite funny and sad.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#5 You should see atheists argue about what should be the basis of their ethics and what is acceptable ethics, it is actually quite funny and sad.

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  • Joe

    Read enough Peter Singer and the funny part fades away pretty quickly …

  • Joe

    Read enough Peter Singer and the funny part fades away pretty quickly …

  • steve

    I see no reason for them not to have a religious camp. The have a creed, they organize around their creed, the indoctrinate, the proselytize; they are a religious body.

    In many ways, creedal atheists have always reminded me of non-denominational fundamentalists. They are extremely literal in their interpretations of the Bible and they delude themselves into thinking they have no creed.

  • steve

    I see no reason for them not to have a religious camp. The have a creed, they organize around their creed, the indoctrinate, the proselytize; they are a religious body.

    In many ways, creedal atheists have always reminded me of non-denominational fundamentalists. They are extremely literal in their interpretations of the Bible and they delude themselves into thinking they have no creed.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So, Pete (@1), Dennis (@5), DLit2C (@6), and maybe Joe (@7)…

    How many atheists do you know? How many of them think nothing of stealing from you? How many of them advocate repealing our laws against murder? Are they strangely consistent with theists as to these ethical components? Why do you think that is?

    Because there seems to be this assumption that either atheists can have no ethics, or that their basis for them is completely unstable. In other words, that they don’t have the Law of God written on their hearts. If you believe that, I’d suggest you read the first part of Romans again.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So, Pete (@1), Dennis (@5), DLit2C (@6), and maybe Joe (@7)…

    How many atheists do you know? How many of them think nothing of stealing from you? How many of them advocate repealing our laws against murder? Are they strangely consistent with theists as to these ethical components? Why do you think that is?

    Because there seems to be this assumption that either atheists can have no ethics, or that their basis for them is completely unstable. In other words, that they don’t have the Law of God written on their hearts. If you believe that, I’d suggest you read the first part of Romans again.

  • steve

    tODD,

    I could be wrong but what I got from reading those posts was not so much that atheists can’t be ethical, rather that the rationale for their ethical behavior is inadequate. I doubt any of the above would deny the Law of God is written on the atheists’ hearts but they are crediting the creation for this—through various evolutionary and cultural models whereby humans learned to survive by working together as a community, etc, etc—rather than crediting the Creator.

  • steve

    tODD,

    I could be wrong but what I got from reading those posts was not so much that atheists can’t be ethical, rather that the rationale for their ethical behavior is inadequate. I doubt any of the above would deny the Law of God is written on the atheists’ hearts but they are crediting the creation for this—through various evolutionary and cultural models whereby humans learned to survive by working together as a community, etc, etc—rather than crediting the Creator.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#9
    Several, in fact, please do not forget I started out in laboratory, not the pulpit. Also, I am not saying they do not have ethics. They generally do. Not so ironically, their ethics are comparable to the Law, they just would never admit it or at least claim it as proof you don’t need religion to be good.

    What they struggle with is what is the basis of their ethics. And they do have a wide variety of ethical standards and what constitutes good behavior. I have lurked in their discussions just to see what they are saying and it can be interesting as they deal with a complete lack of an objective measure.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#9
    Several, in fact, please do not forget I started out in laboratory, not the pulpit. Also, I am not saying they do not have ethics. They generally do. Not so ironically, their ethics are comparable to the Law, they just would never admit it or at least claim it as proof you don’t need religion to be good.

    What they struggle with is what is the basis of their ethics. And they do have a wide variety of ethical standards and what constitutes good behavior. I have lurked in their discussions just to see what they are saying and it can be interesting as they deal with a complete lack of an objective measure.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Okay, so at least Steve (@10) and DLit2C (@11) believe that atheists are capable of having ethics and living ethically.

    And they do have a wide variety of ethical standards and what constitutes good behavior.

    In what way is this unique to atheists? I can find you Christians who condemn all forms of drinking, and Christians who think that getting drunk is, in some fashion, okay. I can find you Christians who won’t kiss until they’re married, and others who think that as long as there’s “love”, then any kind of sex is okay.

    And it seems to me that Christians also “struggle with is what is the basis of their ethics”.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Okay, so at least Steve (@10) and DLit2C (@11) believe that atheists are capable of having ethics and living ethically.

    And they do have a wide variety of ethical standards and what constitutes good behavior.

    In what way is this unique to atheists? I can find you Christians who condemn all forms of drinking, and Christians who think that getting drunk is, in some fashion, okay. I can find you Christians who won’t kiss until they’re married, and others who think that as long as there’s “love”, then any kind of sex is okay.

    And it seems to me that Christians also “struggle with is what is the basis of their ethics”.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    We do have differences within Christian circles on what is right and wrong, acceptable or unacceptable. However, what is different is that for the most part we do have an agreed upon standard by which to appraise our ethics and morals. Atheists, from what I have seen, lack such a standard. I have seen some knock down drag out fights on their websites concerning the question how do determine right and wrong/ethical and unethical.

    We Christians may have similar knockdown drag out fights, but at least we largely agree on an objective source in the Scriptures.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    We do have differences within Christian circles on what is right and wrong, acceptable or unacceptable. However, what is different is that for the most part we do have an agreed upon standard by which to appraise our ethics and morals. Atheists, from what I have seen, lack such a standard. I have seen some knock down drag out fights on their websites concerning the question how do determine right and wrong/ethical and unethical.

    We Christians may have similar knockdown drag out fights, but at least we largely agree on an objective source in the Scriptures.

  • Dennis Peskey

    tODD (#9) Sorry for the delay in response; Thursday is my golf league night. Had to leave early to help solve my son-in-law’s hooking problem. (We did well scoring 20 out of 24 total points.)

    Your question on post #9 is valid and worthy of response (although I hasten to add – you answered the question in your final statement.)

    Having worked in the Federal Government until retirement, I’ve met, known and interacted with many who claimed to be atheist. More important for this response is a man I’ve always claimed as a good friend for several decades (we shared a love/hate view of golfing – although he really stunk up the courses when we played.)

    The last time we had lunch together, he nearly killed me as I was drinking my beer and he announced, “I now believe evil exists in the world!” When the oxygen returned to my lungs, I proceeded to his definition of evil. The definition proceeded along the second table of the commandments (except for the sixth [adultery for our reformed readers]).

    So, in the best tradition of “What does this mean” and “strike while the iron is hot”, I continued, “If evil exists, then what is ‘good’ to you?” While evil was easy for him to recognize (only took three decades), his definition of good centered on hedonism. Works real well for you if your the Roman emperor – not so well if your only a Senator or Roman slave.

    Absent the first table of the Law, he had no grounding for good beyond himself nor could he escape the fundamental flaws inherent in hedonism. While he stammered though various other “isms” seeking a rational for “good”, he did not fail to recognize the foundational weakness in all that he proposed.

    I returned the discussion to his initial declaration by properly defining evil as that which is opposed to the Lord. We call it sin. And, I added Jesus response to the rich, young man “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.”

    In their hearts, the atheists know both good and evil for God’s Law has been written upon them. But they’ve backed themselves into a corner where they believe they must deny God leaving themselves nothing but evil. It’s left to the Holy Spirit to open this man’s eyes and allow him to see he’s sinned against the Lord. I pray also this man remembers my words of consolation that all sins have been atoned for, including mine.
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    tODD (#9) Sorry for the delay in response; Thursday is my golf league night. Had to leave early to help solve my son-in-law’s hooking problem. (We did well scoring 20 out of 24 total points.)

    Your question on post #9 is valid and worthy of response (although I hasten to add – you answered the question in your final statement.)

    Having worked in the Federal Government until retirement, I’ve met, known and interacted with many who claimed to be atheist. More important for this response is a man I’ve always claimed as a good friend for several decades (we shared a love/hate view of golfing – although he really stunk up the courses when we played.)

    The last time we had lunch together, he nearly killed me as I was drinking my beer and he announced, “I now believe evil exists in the world!” When the oxygen returned to my lungs, I proceeded to his definition of evil. The definition proceeded along the second table of the commandments (except for the sixth [adultery for our reformed readers]).

    So, in the best tradition of “What does this mean” and “strike while the iron is hot”, I continued, “If evil exists, then what is ‘good’ to you?” While evil was easy for him to recognize (only took three decades), his definition of good centered on hedonism. Works real well for you if your the Roman emperor – not so well if your only a Senator or Roman slave.

    Absent the first table of the Law, he had no grounding for good beyond himself nor could he escape the fundamental flaws inherent in hedonism. While he stammered though various other “isms” seeking a rational for “good”, he did not fail to recognize the foundational weakness in all that he proposed.

    I returned the discussion to his initial declaration by properly defining evil as that which is opposed to the Lord. We call it sin. And, I added Jesus response to the rich, young man “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.”

    In their hearts, the atheists know both good and evil for God’s Law has been written upon them. But they’ve backed themselves into a corner where they believe they must deny God leaving themselves nothing but evil. It’s left to the Holy Spirit to open this man’s eyes and allow him to see he’s sinned against the Lord. I pray also this man remembers my words of consolation that all sins have been atoned for, including mine.
    Pax,
    Dennis

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  • Joe

    tODD – I know and have know many atheists (including my own Godfather – nice work on that one mom and dad).

    I don’t content that they are incapable of having an ethical code, but the problem they have is when they try explain the basis for their code and the ideas that necessarily flow from that. The example I offered (Singer), is an example of this. In my experience the atheists with the ethics that most closely matched my own (my only real point of comparison) are those who have not given any thought to why something is right or wrong and are ignorantly relying on the Law God wrote on their hearts.

    I do recognize the Christendom is not united in perfect harmony re: application but (Like DR. L21C said above) we do seem united on the source.

  • Joe

    tODD – I know and have know many atheists (including my own Godfather – nice work on that one mom and dad).

    I don’t content that they are incapable of having an ethical code, but the problem they have is when they try explain the basis for their code and the ideas that necessarily flow from that. The example I offered (Singer), is an example of this. In my experience the atheists with the ethics that most closely matched my own (my only real point of comparison) are those who have not given any thought to why something is right or wrong and are ignorantly relying on the Law God wrote on their hearts.

    I do recognize the Christendom is not united in perfect harmony re: application but (Like DR. L21C said above) we do seem united on the source.

  • Brad

    As an atheist I teach my children values and morals. They existed well before someone, Paul, though of a way to make money and dreamed up this money maker called jesus.

  • Brad

    As an atheist I teach my children values and morals. They existed well before someone, Paul, though of a way to make money and dreamed up this money maker called jesus.

  • Brad

    Gandhi said. I like your christ, it is your christians that I do not like.

  • Brad

    Gandhi said. I like your christ, it is your christians that I do not like.


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