Monday 3 August 2009

Indoctrination, moi? - secular alternatives need more publicity

In much of the mainstream media coverage of Camp Quest UK one can detect barely concealed false puzzlement, if not actual contempt, expressed with the merest hint of a sneer: "Why on earth would you want to send your kids to an atheist summer camp?" - as if the very idea of a summer camp with some kind of agenda is totally new and distinctly weird.

This knee-jerk reaction is symptomatic of the blind-spot in media treatment of religious issues - like the water in which fish swim, religion is everywhere, so people don't perceive it as anything special (when in fact much of religion is profoundly disturbing). As for summer camps, Christians wouldn't dream of setting up anything remotely similar, expressly to inculcate children with religious beliefs, would they?

We know, of course, that this is exactly what they do. Case in point, click the link below to hear a four-minute audio clip from this morning's Today Programme on BBC Radio 4, about Christian Skaters:

Such blatant indoctrination is endemic in the US. As a further example I commend to you the documentary film Jesus Camp, though it's advisable not to have any heavy objects within reach - unless you were already planning to buy a new TV.

Camp Quest UK has received plenty of media coverage, thanks to Samantha Stein (camp director) and Crispian Jago (whose children attended the camp this year), and despite media hostility the public support - as indicated by the majority of comments on one particularly egregious online article - seems to be favourable. All such efforts to provide secular and freethought alternatives - devoid of the taint of religious faith - need to be publicised to the maximum extent, simply to let people know that alternatives exist, and that their choices, contrary to what they might have believed, are not limited only to faith-based options.

If the BBC's flash player misbehaves, a 4'11" 1 Mb mp3 can be downloaded from RapidShare: