It is no big secret that I am an atheist (well, it’s not now). In England it is a legal requirement that schools have a daily “act of collective worship”, with the majority of these being “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character”.
It is always a bit of an issue about how atheists respond to these assemblies. Under the law, any child can leave, but that can make them feel a bit like a social outcast. One idea I had a few years ago was to come up with alternative science-based activities for atheists (‘You can stay and pray or watch Mrs Henderson walk barefoot across burning coals’, or ‘We will now all sing a hymn…or you can go and see Mr Jones eat a lightbulb’).
A few days ago a friend of mine mentioned that he was trying to persuade his local school to have a one-off atheist assembly, and wanted to come up with appropriate content. It would, he thought, be nice to have something inspirational and uplifting, yet with a serious message. Perhaps something that lays out a moral message outside a religious context.
My thought was that for the right age group, you could do a lot worse than read Kipling’s poem, IF. If you need your memory refreshing, this clip starts with a great rendition of it…
What do you think? Any other suggestions for other material for my friend?