New Center Launches "Secular Sunday Schools"
For Immediate Release - Contact Fred Edwords at (202) 238-9088 email@example.com - www.americanhumanist.org
(Washington, D.C., May 14, 2008) The Kochhar Humanist Education Center (KHEC) was launched today by the American Humanist Association at a Washington DC press conference. The new center is already developing curriculum for the humanist equivalent of Sunday schools, which include programs in ethics geared to serve the children of atheists, agnostics and freethinkers. It is also developing similar curriculums to serve high school and college students, parents and older adults. And to support this endeavor, the KHEC launched an online resource center, together with the first books of what will become a massive online freethought library. (Go to www.americanhumanist.org/khec/ to see it now.)
"Religious organizations have long had educational programs and institutions for passing on their values to each new generation. These have included Sunday schools, private religious schools and an abundance of resources for parents," said Dr. Bob Bhaerman, education coordinator of the KHEC. "Now it's time for nontheistic people--whether they call themselves humanists, atheists, agnostics or even identify with a more traditionally religious label--to more effectively share their values with future generations and deepen the understanding of those values among adults."
Those who spoke at the press conference were involved in the conception and creation of the KHEC. Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, spoke first. Dr. Bhaerman, who is from Columbus, Ohio, concluded the event. Also speaking were New York City businessman Pritpal Kochhar, a humanist Sikh and major funder of the center, and Maggie Ardiente, former board member and current activist with the Secular Student Alliance. Copies of their remarks are available online at www.americanhumanist.org/khec/.
Topics discussed included why the center is important in today's world, initial accomplishments and immediate plans, the rise of modern atheism and humanism that has spurred the development of the center, and the center's youth and student programs. Presenters also pointed to the "atheist Sunday School," an existing program of a chapter of the American Humanist Association that was covered by "Time" magazine and ABC "Nightline" in recent months.
A major focus of the center's current activities involves developing curriculum units, lesson plans and instructional approaches for all age levels. Such curriculums aim to create understanding and build knowledge about humanism--its philosophy, principles and aspirations--and encourage scientific thinking, rational values, as well as activism toward freedom and social justice. The center is also acquiring a relevant library of children's books and developing citizen action guides to get individuals to apply their humanism to current political, social and educational issues.
The online resource center utilizes compiled materials and will enable local groups and liberal religious congregations to adapt curriculum modules. There will also be an online discourse on humanist education.
"Our hope is that this center will make humanist education accessible to all," said Roy Speckhardt. "Among other things, humanists see a need to defend minority faiths and philosophies from discrimination. And the best way to accomplish this is through education--not only education of people like us but also the wider public. We want to share our values with our children, refine our own sense of right and wrong, and promote understanding of our worldview among non-humanists. Thus we are working to fill a great need both inside and outside the humanist community."
The American Humanist Association ( www.americanhumanist.org ) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.