Jewish Journal


July 5, 2007

Atheist summer camp


We’re now in full summer-camp swing, with youngsters heading off to the wilderness to wrestle with each, and with God. But the Chicago Tribune writes of an Ohio camp of a different ilk.

At the same time youngsters at Bible camps across the nation are reciting, “Now I lay me down to sleep; I pray the Lord my soul to keep,” kids at Camp Quest are climbing into their bunks, confident there is no one out there to hear those prayers.

Proudly proclaiming the motto “Beyond Belief,” Camp Quest bills itself as the nation’s first sleep-away summer camp for atheists. Founded in 1996, it has inspired four similar camps across the nation for children whose parents are either opposed or indifferent to religion.


We wanted a camp not to preach there is no God,” said Edward Kagin, camp founder and American Atheists legal director, “but as a place where children could learn it’s OK not to believe in God.”

The reporter attaches the creation of Camp Quest to atheism’s “revival.” I think that’s a bit hyperbolic but agree that atheism is becoming more acceptable in American society and that a non-theist empowerment movement, pulling terms like “coming out of the closet” from the gay rights movement, is afoot. At the same time America is becoming more secular, though, it also is becoming more religious.

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