Regarding the Atheist (non-bus) Campaign

What should we make of the Atheist (non-bus) campaign?

The new poster features two children with the faded words Catholic Child’, Atheist Child’, Humanist Child’ and Anarchist Child’ amongst others behind them. In bigger, bolder lettering, are the words Please don’t label me. Let me grow up and choose for myself.’

The advert appeals to our love of autonomy and the right to choose. Children are children. They shouldn’t be labelled according to a particular philosophy. They should be able to choose their beliefs for themselves when they are old enough to do so. Who could argue against that?

The poster, then, is superficially appealing, but largely on an emotional level. How often have you heard the word label’ used positively about anybody? On a more rational level, however, is it is based on some seriously flawed ideas.

This used to be a fairly academic topic for me, but now that I have one child and another one on the way, it’s one that has obviously begun hitting pretty close to home. As I wrote in my review of Jesus Camp:

[H]ow would we train our children without indoctrinating them, without compelling them to think with the stark, black-and-white distinctions that have been so much a part of American Christianity, and which I myself have had to wrestle with time and again. How do we impart values and yet reinforce the idea that ultimately, the choice is theirs. Is that the desirable method? Is it even possible?

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