Religious groups have been targeting children for years with advertising, television programming, and web sites geared for the youth demographic. As such, many in the atheist-humanist community are thrilled to see a new web site from the American Humanist Association called Kids Without God. The group launched the site this week and is promoting it with an advertising campaign that utilizes billboards, transit ads, and online media.
As a visit to the web site shows, Kids Without God provides extensive information about issues that might be of concern to atheist-humanist children and parents, from information about “coming out” as nontheistic in an environment that might not be welcoming, to information about evolution and other areas of science, to humor and other entertainment and much more. The site is split into one section for teens and another for younger children.
“Whether they already made up their minds to reject supernatural explanations, or are just questioning, it’s time to make available an online resource that’s built just for kids without God,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the AHA. “These kids may be from traditionally religious families, or from families like that of President Barack Obama, whose mother was a secular humanist. KidsWithoutGod.com will be a friendly online community for kids who might be too shy to ask an adult directly what it’s like to be good without a god.”
Not surprisingly, some Christian groups are not pleased that atheism-humanism is being promoted publicly in this way. An article from a site connected with the Discovery Institute, a religious right group that promotes creationism, called the AHA's campaign “clueless." Another article about the campaign, this one from the Christian News Network, insisted that there are “kids across America that need hope – which is only found in Jesus Christ.” Still others, overlooking the fact that religious groups reach out in similar ways to children, object to the AHA's campaign as a "tactic of indoctrination."
To humanists, this reaction merely highlights the need for more visibility, not less. “With the plethora of websites geared toward teaching kids about Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, we’re pleased to add humanism to the discussion,” said Speckhardt. “Kids should know there’s another way to learn about morals and values—it doesn't need to come from traditional religion.”
(Full disclosure: David Niose is president of the AHA.)
David Niose's new book, Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans, is available here, and wherever books are sold.