Sunday, April 26, 2009

Atheists target UK schools

source: via,3781,n,n highlights comments

Atheists are targeting schools in a campaign designed to challenge Christian societies, collective worship and religious education.

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:03PM BST 25 Apr 2009

The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (AHS) plans to launch a recruitment drive this summer.

Backed by professors Richard Dawkins and AC Grayling, the initiative aims to establish a network of atheist societies in schools to counter the role of Christianity.

It will coincide with the first atheist summer camp for children that will teach that religious belief and doctrines can prevent ethical and moral behaviour.

The federation aims to encourage students to lobby their schools and local authorities over what is taught in RE lessons and to call for daily acts of collective worship to be scrapped. It wants the societies to hold talks and educational events to persuade students not to believe in God.

Chloƫ Clifford-Frith, AHS co-founder, said that the societies would act as a direct challenge to the Christian message being taught in schools.

She expressed concern that Christian Unions could influence vulnerable teenagers looking for a club to belong to with fundamentalist doctrine.

In particular, she claimed that some students were being told that homosexuality is a sin and to believe the Biblical account of creation.

"We want to point out how silly some of these beliefs are and hope that these groups will help to do that," she said.

The federation's bid to improve co-ordination among atheists in schools follows a successful campaign at universities.

The number of groups reported by the AHS to be active on campuses has risen from seven in 2007/2008 academic year to 25 in 2008/2009, including societies at the universities of Oxford and Durham.

Leeds Atheist Society claims to have experienced discrimination, vandalism, theft and death threats from religious groups on campus, who oppose the open expression of an atheist viewpoint and blasphemy.

AC Grayling, the philosopher and writer, said: "As well as making the case for reason and science, it is great to know that the AHS will be standing up against religious privilege and discrimination.

"The AHS shows that increasing numbers of young people are unwilling to put up with it."


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