Sunday school was never like this

NOT all Americans are Bible-totin’, scripture-quotin’, Republican votin’ rednecks who think they have a hotline to Jesus, though you might be excused for harbouring such an image when the right-wing Bible Belters get going.

Indeed, as this story is published during a Sunday morning, a bunch of kids in the USA will soon (we’re allowing for the time difference here!) be getting a dose of reason.humanist-centre1.jpg A group of parents have got together and formed something that’s such a good idea that you find yourself asking, “Why hasn’t someone come up with this before?”

It’s a Sunday school.

Not the Sunday school we may remember from childhood in a draughty church hall reading from prayer books and colouring in sickly pictures of a white Jesus with Western features. But an atheist Sunday school.

“When you have kids,” says Julie Willey, in an article in Time, “you start to notice that your coworkers or friends have church groups to help teach their kids values and to be able to lean on.”

So Willey, who was raised Buddhist and says she has never believed in God, now packs her four kids into the family’s blue minivan and they head to the Humanist Community Center in Palo Alto in California.

About 14 per cent of Americans claim to have no religion, according to the story in Time that features Willey and her group, “and among 18-to-25-year-olds, the proportion rises to 20%, according to the Institute for Humanist Studies”, the magazine says, adding,

The lives of these young people would be much easier, adult nonbelievers say, if they learned at an early age how to respond to the God-fearing majority in the US. “It’s important for kids not to look weird,” says Peter Bishop, who leads the preteen class at the Humanist center in Palo Alto. Others say the weekly instruction supports their position that it’s OK to not believe in God and gives them a place to reinforce the morals and values they want their children to have.

The article says that atheist parents “appreciate this nurturing environment”. And they have rational discussions down at the humanist centre. “I’m a person that doesn’t believe in myths,” says one of the children, eleven-year-old. “I’d rather stick to the evidence.”

How many eleven-year-old kids in British schools can say that, with a daily act of worship forced on them (except in those schools that wisely choose to ignore the silly law that requires it), and ever more religious schools in the pipeline?

One response to “Sunday school was never like this”

  1. The children’s song “I’m Unique and Unrepeatable” is also used in Unitarian Universalists Sunday School programs and is used in several UU curricula.

    Since UUs are a non-creedal religion, many of our members are Atheist, Agnostic, and Humanist.

    Since we’re a covenental religion where how we treat each other is more important than having a shared belief system, we’re very similar to the Ethical Culture Society ideal of “deed before creed.”

    The UU option may be useful for North American parents who cannot find an Ethical Culture Society class or Humanist sunday school class for their kids.

    Plus UUs also offer one of the best comprehensive sexuality education programs using the best available guidelines from public health and medical professionals for children, adolescents, and adults.