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 Evil Scandalous Non-Religious Childrens' Camp ! ;) LOL !

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Posts : 190
Join date : 2009-05-07
Age : 36
Location : Scotland

PostSubject: Evil Scandalous Non-Religious Childrens' Camp ! ;) LOL !   Sun 27 Dec 2009, 1:13 am

Camp for atheists ?

Richard Dawkins replies to claims he's "grooming" kids to become unbelievers...

Article written by Jasper Hamill
Published on the 23rd of September,2009

Source (The Big Issue) -

Ah, summer camp! Even though most British children don’t get to experience the ritual of marshmallow roasting, singing of songs and furtive snogging that defines the holidays for most American youngsters, we can all agree that it sounds like pretty good fun.

So how much of a lark can kids expect at an event being hailed as “Camp Dawkins”, where ‘Kumbaya’ is replaced with John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and ghost stories are swapped for earnest wrangling about the theory of evolution? It sounds about as much fun as fat camp.

But plenty of parents think otherwise. The first atheist summer camp, called Camp Quest, is set to pitch tent in a field in Somerset this week. From July 27-31, a small squad of short-trousered pioneers will embark upon an adventure into atheism, learning about evolution, science, astronomy and philosophy by night, whilst clambering up climbing walls and shooting with bow and arrow by day. Demand has been high: the camp sold out quickly, and one planned for summer 2010 looks set to be even larger.

“We want to give children the sort of education that isn’t covered in school, such as philosophy and the scientific method,” explains Samantha Stein, camp organiser. “It’s more a way of teaching them about the world, not telling them what to think. We’re not about indoctrination and we don’t pursue an anti-religious agenda.

“Most of the kids who come here are atheist anyway so it’s very difficult to indoctrinate someone into becoming something they already are.”

Try telling that to the evangelicals who are already lining up to slam the camp. Because arch-evolutionist Richard Dawkins’s charity gave Camp Quest a financial donation (they say it is almost £500), Christian pressure groups have labelled the event ‘Camp Dawkins’ and claim it is part of an insidious attempt by the scientist-cum-polemicist to coerce kids into some kind of atheistic cult.

Certain elements of the press have also associated Dawkins with the camp. One article in The Sunday Times, that began with a version of the famous Jesuit line (“give Richard Dawkins a child for a week’s summer camp and he will try to give you an atheist for life”), irked Dawkins so much that when I asked him about the article, he furiously replied: “Contrary to The Sunday Times – it is, after all, a Murdoch paper – Camp Quest has no connection with me, except that my foundation made a charitable donation to it of, I believe, £495.

“I know nothing of the camp itself and don’t even know where it is. That Sunday Times article was an outrage, saying that I was ‘grooming’ your atheists, and quoting that disgusting Jesuit boast.”

Calming down a little, Dawkins blasted: “What little I know of Camp Quest sounds admirable. The quotation I gave The Sunday Times is, to the best of my knowledge, appropriate. “Camp Quest encourages children to think for themselves, sceptically and rationally. There is no indoctrination, just encouragement to be open-minded, while having fun.

“That should answer your specific question about whether the camp is ‘appropriate’ for children. Of course children should be left to make up their own minds, that is the whole point. Will they be taught to recognise the primacy of evidence over faith? Isn’t that what making up your own mind means! Will it hurt their capacity for imagination? You must be joking!”

While Dawkins clearly plays no part in Camp Quest – and we would dare not invoke his wrath by implying so – religious critics on the opposite end of the scale still see the event as part of a war to brainwash kids into thinking there’s no God, no purpose to life and that the Earth’s construction took an awful lot longer than seven days’ worth of divine labour.

For some, Dawkins is a kind of Trotsky figure, always scheming and plotting to bring down religion. Evangelical Christian groups would certainly rather there were no atheist camps. Justin Thacker, head of theology at pressure group Evangelical Alliance, insists Dawkins’s fingerprints are all over Camp Quest.

“I think it’s quite amusing,” he says. “Perhaps Dawkins realises that his propaganda doesn’t work with the adults, so now he’s going to try it with the children, which, in a strange way, is as if he’s taking his atheism and acting more and more like a religion. I don’t think he’ll find he’s any more successful there.”

Thacker believes no child will respond to the thought that the existence of life is essentially a random occurrence and that life is meaningless. Far better to go to a Christian camp, propounding the message that humans are on Earth for a reason, he says. Thacker insists religious camps are more open-minded. “It’s acceptable for a child on a Christian camp to say, ‘I don’t believe God exists’. The child is not ridiculed or told they’re an idiot.

“What’s going to happen at the Dawkins camp If someone stands up and says, ‘I believe in God’? I can guarantee that child be will mocked and humiliated for that opinion. Who’s having the most open debate?”

Yet for all this rather gentle arguing that is, let’s not forget, taking place in an essentially secular country, it’s easy to gloss over the admirable goals behind the first-ever Camp Quest. It was held on land owned and leased by Bullittsburg Baptist Assembly in Boone County, Kentucky, in 1996. The camp’s founder, Edwin Kagin, lives 10 miles from a creationist museum in Kentucky that claims humans ran around with dinosaurs. Kagin wanted to present a rational response to such claims.

It remains his mission to help what some Americans see as “dirty little atheists” come to terms with their lack of faith and learn about evolution and science, including Dawkins’s theories.

“Camp Quest is like a light in a dark and scary room for these kids,” says Kagin. “Some of them have cried when they’ve been at Camp Quest, because it’s the first time they’ve felt comfortable admitting their non-belief.”

The camp was thought by Baptists to be so controversial that the state of Kentucky exempted the church from a key civil rights law – which stated that the church could not discriminate against Camp Quest if the group wanted to lease the land. Some of the children who attended the camps have endured taunts from other children who tell them they will burn in hell for their beliefs. In Britain, it seems less likely kids would be bullied based on their refusal to accept God, but the resurgence of belief in creationism or intelligent design suggests there is still a need to make sure children don’t fall for non-scientific mumbo-jumbo.

It might not be much fun at “Camp Dawkins”, and it may not have anything to do with him, but its aims are still noble. There’s plenty of time for silliness during the rest of the summer, right?


The original article also includes various relevant comments from readers.

I've been to both a fundamental Christian camp (over numerous years, entirely against both my wishes and my beliefs) , and also to a more mainstream adventure camp (on several years, and in different places) which was more fun, but which bowled me over because everyone was treated like a member of some "cool gang" with everybody divided up into "activity teams" of about 20 people, for each holiday-week.
Additionally, I also was involved with a range of Brownie camp holidays, and then later a similar thing when I was in the Guides. Those were more traditional camp-type affairs, with a deliberate effort made by the guiders to involve us in cooking things on fires we had to make ourselves with stuff we had found (no easy task, in a place with no trees !) .. and toast being cooked on an open fire on sticks, and stuff like that. Smile There was perhaps rather too much "Kumbaya" and "Edelweiss" for my personal liking, but hey... that may just be me.

So, as a consequence of all this camp experience perhaps, I have a range of thoughts on both the subject of Camp Quest, and on some of the opinions expressed about it.

Firstly, I have never heard John Lennon’s “Imagine” song. However, I think that the lyrics seem reasonable enough. I can’t honestly imagine his “Imagine” song being any worse than top Christian hits such as “God is good to me”, “(God’s love is) Deep and Wide”, “Jesus (he’s alright)” , and similar Christian Endeavour Camp medleys !

Personally, I don’t really LIKE being in “cool gangs” either…. They do all of that cliquey stuff, and have dumb ideas for what to do – like “let’s all go out onto the camp football pitch at midnight, when it will be totally black outside, and run about like daft fuckers while hoping that we don’t get caught (so exciting !). Then make out. Yay !”
And THEY have frickin’-awful songs as well ! For example, there’s that dire one about seeing a bird with a yellow bill, which lands upon your window-sill… so you coax it in with a piece of bread, then take a stone and smash open its head.
(O.o) Like… whee ?!
I guess that I’m just not cool enough to find that remotely amusing.

Personally, I think that Camp Quest sounds like a fine idea.
I don’t have a problem with Dawkins, or his theories about evolution, and it sounds like he wasn’t involved with the camp other than as a donor anyway.

The idea which many religious people have, that it’s “indoctrinating youth away from religion and God” is utterly phenomenal, and speaks volumes in support of my theory that by large, religion makes a good cover for a pathology-riddled mindset.
So many religious people seem to buy into the notion that children naturally love God, and anything else is an aberration from nature… or that any deviation from devotion to God is possibly the consequence of dysfunctional corruption and deviant conditioning, from (anti-social) non-followers of their own favourite religion.

And last but not least, as for this preposterious idea that being indoctrinated into some religion guarantees a child a meaningful existence, well…

Very Happy Ha ! (Smacks arse in God’s general direction)
How’dya like them apples ?
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