- File Size: 411 KB
- Print Length: 158 pages
- Publisher: Patheos Press (November 20, 2012)
- Publication Date: November 20, 2012
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00AB0XK2Y
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #964,507 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Young Atheist's Survival Guide: Helping Secular Students Thrive Kindle Edition
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He points out, “Survey after survey show a rise in the number of both non-religious and religiously-unaffiliated Americans. Atheists know this. Religious groups know this. Researchers know this. Even if they’re not happy with the results, there’s no disputing the trends.” (Pg. 18)
He argues, “There is no reason that an atheist group can’t exist at just about every public high school in this country. But we need brave students who are willing to take the lead. The law is on their side and good administrators know that. Unfortunately, administrators are only one of the obstacles to beginning atheist groups… forcing many students to restrain their religious identities because they don’t feel comfortable coming clean about their doubts.” (Pg. 34)
He points out, “There’s a very good reason younger generations tend to support same-sex marriage at a rate far higher than the general public: When you know people who are gay, you’re less likely to think there’s something ‘wrong’ with them. Similarly, if young atheists can make themselves known to their classmates, there’s a good chance atheism will become more acceptable… as they all grow older.” (Pg. 42)
He asserts, “If you’re an atheist, the most important thing you can possibly do is come out of the closet and let people know you don’t believe in god… Obviously, if your parents are forcing you to go to church each week or you risk losing your entire social network, I’m not suggesting you need to come out. But for the many young atheists out there who have the ability to do so, it is vital that you let people know you’re an atheist when opportunities present themselves.” (Pg. 81-82)
He suggests, “Journalists love stories… Can’t get a group started?... Let members of your local media know! … I’ve found it to be very accurate (if only anecdotally): when atheists do just about ANYTHING, reporters pay attention. They WANT to write about young atheists. And if there’s an actual conflict at play, it makes for an even better story. Furthermore, the media often has the ability to make things right when everyone else seems powerless against the authorities.” (Pg. 85)
He clarifies, “everything I’m suggesting here is completely legal. I’m not saying teachers should spend class time talking about why God doesn’t exist. I’m also not telling teachers to encourage students to begin an atheist group. (Even if those things were legal, I believe they would be bad ideas.) This is simply about teachers not shielding who that are from their students if they inquire about it. Some of the adults I’ve mentioned in this book… crossed the line between teaching and preaching. Atheist teachers shouldn’t stoop to their level.” (Pg. 109-110)
While young atheists may enjoy this book, it is probably even more of interest to adults with an interest in public schools.
In a fast moving and well written manner the book discusses the problems, and solutions to these problems, encountered by young American atheists in the public school system. These problems centre around discrimination by their religious school mates, and school officials. One telling example from the book was a pastor who asked his students to draw a picture of both a christian and an atheist. The students drew the christian as a happy and good man, while the atheist was depicted as a drinker, a smoker, and a bad person.
In response to this, and more generally, to meet like minded people and to discuss issues, atheist students are now forming atheist clubs across the USA. It would be warming to be able to say that school teachers and administrators unreservedly performed their job and duty and helped and encouraged these students to do so, but this is not the case. Atheist students were confronted with opposition and outright vilification by their teachers and their school bureaucracy. More so, from their fellow students and parents, some students received physical threats. No sign of "love thy neighbour". In response many students successfully called upon the USA constitution, which separates church from state, in a bid for equal recognition and acceptance.
In the USA, it is illegal for public schools to promote religion, and schools must deal equally with students of all and no faiths. More so, atheist clubs are legal entities, and must be granted the same rights and privileges as other student groups. Interestingly, students can legally chose to remain seated and not recite the oath of allegiance, as it refers to god.
The book concentrates on examples from the lives of the students concerned. Interwoven with this is the wider world, parents (there's and others), the media, lawyers, the school, the community, priests and pastors, and how these affected the struggle by the student's to form their own groups and participate in their school life. It is very sad to say that some parents disowned their children when their atheism was revealed. Happily, the book does conclude with a realistic and optimistic view of the future.
The book is both a summary of the situation to date, and a primer on how to form and foster an atheist group at school. It contains examples, contact details, and text that will help any student interested in pursuing this worthy goal.
If you are a student, the parent of a student, either in or not in the USA, or you work or have dealings with a school or students, or if you have an interest in human rights, then read this book.