Monday, August 03, 2009

it's all good fun till someone loses a soul

Naturally you'll remember the atheist bus campaign and the storm of highly gratifying incoherent hypocrisy from the religious community about the whole thing. Strap yourselves in for some more, as the media gets wind of the hilariously benign and un-newsworthy goings-on at Camp Quest UK.

This is the first UK-based version of something that's been happening in the US for a decade or so - a summer camp for kids without the usual underpinning of religion (since this is the US and UK we're talking about that would be Christianity). So you get the usual camping, frisbee-throwing, whittling and lighting fires, but with some lectures on free thinking and rationality thrown in. To be honest there's more than a little bit of a whiff of macrobiotic tofu about the whole thing, but the motives behind it seem pretty commendable. Well, the whole notion of "summer camp" seems a bit American to me, but that's just me being a tweedy old duffer; I mean, I still feel the same way about trick-or-treating at Hallowe'en. And I still put an apostrophe in Hallowe'en!

Anyway, despite this being pretty obviously a Good Thing, some people have managed to work themselves up into a lather over it, among them, would you believe, the Daily Mail, which asks all the important questions like: is this all harmless fun or is it AN EVIL SWAB FROM SATAN'S ARSE, or something like that. Note how they amusingly mis-label organiser Sam Stein (in the picture I've nicked and cropped on the left) as "Sam Klein" in the photo caption - well these Jewish names all sound the same, don't they? Note also that Ms Stein is sporting one of the excellent Bad Science T-shirts, which can be purchased here, in colours other than pink if you so desire.

Needless to say most of those fulminating about "indoctrination" seem to be in possession of a dictionary with the words "irony" and "hypocrisy" missing. Top journalism marks go to this Times piece for saying pretty much nothing but managing to work the word "grooming" into the headline. Good work. Marks off for pretty much everyone though for asserting that it's run or organised by Richard Dawkins in some way (he gave them £500), or that it is an "atheist camp", which it specifically is not. In fact those labelling it as such need to think about what they are saying here: free thinking, questioning and evaluating evidence leads to atheism? Well, yes, I agree, but if I were pushing a religious agenda I wouldn't consider that to be a profitable line of argument.

We haven't heard from Stephen Green of Christian Voice on this subject, but I look forward to it immensely, as on past evidence it should be absolutely tremendous.

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