Christianity Today's Stan Guthrie tells us about the cool new summer camps for young atheists:
While tens of thousands of kids head out to Christian camps, Camp Quest is offering an alternative for those who take their summer recreation without God. About 150 young people attend Camp Quest programs in Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, California, and Ontario, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune.
The founder, Edwin Kagin, is legal director for the group American Atheists. He said the atheist camp was founded after the Boy Scouts barred atheists and gays from leadership roles during the 1990s. "We wanted a camp not to preach there is no God," said Kagin, "but as a place where children could learn it's OK not to believe in God."
The Tribune interviewed several young campers in Ohio about their beliefs, or lack thereof. I don't think Christians have a lot to worry about. Here is a sampling:
"[Sophia] Riehemann notes that a secular perspective takes away childhood joys other kids have, such as Christmas. But that doesn't bother her. 'They have Santa Claus,' she said, 'and we have Isaac Newton.'"
Actually, Sophia, I hate to break this to you, but you have Santa Claus, and we have Isaac Newton.
Then there is Allison Page, who is described as a 9-year-old only child. Reflecting on the biblical story of Cain and Abel, Allison opines, "It just doesn't make sense. A brother wouldn't kill his brother."
Ah, the innocence of children. Just wait until you have siblings, Allison.
I wonder why parents would send their children to such a camp. Are they afraid that unless they innoculate their children against the disease of religious belief that their children will grow up to think it more reasonable and plausible than atheism? And who's telling these kids that it's not okay to disbelieve?
I wonder, too, about what sorts of activities the children engage in during their outings. Perhaps there are campfire discussions about why the youngsters' life doesn't have to have meaning in order to be meaningful and how they can be moral even though goodness doesn't exist. Maybe the young atheists are instructed by their counsellors on how human beings can still have dignity and worth even though they're nothing but sacks of blood, bone and excrement. Or perhaps there's a session on how to make up human rights when there really is nothing upon which to base them. This session is probably combined with one that explores how the universe emerged out of nothing all by itself since the two ideas are so similar.
Anyway, the camp sounds like enormous fun, and I'm sure the tykes come home excited about facing the world as atheists.RLC