I know, 2 posts in an hour, tut tut, but this one’s only short.
The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS) got some coverage in yesterday’s Torygraph. This is the national group which we helped found in order to share resources and ideas between student groups at universities around the UK.
Now the article deals with an idea we’ve had to try and get atheist activism into schools. That, of course, is where a lot of indoctrination takes place. So as well as springing up some new groups at universities, we’re trying to get some societies started in schools. I’m not sure exactly how effective this is going to be, personally, merely because of the nature of societies at school. At uni they’re very independent, they can get funding, lots of students live in the same area, and of course there’s a bigger catchment group; there’s something like 25,000 students at the UoE, the same can’t be said for any school I know of.
I know, for example, that at my school there weren’t many societies and those that there were were pretty much run by the school. We had 2 charity groups, the SVP and the Friday Club, as well as all the sports teams, a Language Club, an RPG club that folded after a while, a chess club, a computer gaming club, but all of them were run by a member of staff, or at least a sixth former. I think it’ll be much more difficult to get an atheist society running, especially in faith schools where it’d be most useful.
Anywho back to the article. It’s main mistake is that we’re not attacking Religious Education in schools, certainly not in the way the article suggests. I (and I think I speak for many atheists when I say this) don’t have a problem with RE. I hope students learn about lots of religions, in fact as a literature student, being familiar with the Bible is a huge bonus, it’s in everything! What we are opposed to is preaching to students, one sided teaching about religion, moral issues being seen as a purely religious thing, obligatory collective worship, etc.
We’re also not really persuading people to believe in God or using children to attack Christianity. We’re not going into a school, brainwashing a few kids into atheism and then saying “here you go, here’s your society”. They’re coming to us!
Here’s the press release from the AHS with more details.