I am an atheist, but as Damon Linker argued in The New Republic last year, atheism is divided in its attitudes towards religion. Linker’s article is a critique of the ‘ideological atheism’ of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, which believes religion is a dangerous superstition that must be stamped out. He quotes Dawkins describing Catholic education as child abuse, and Harris wanting ‘public schools [to] “announce the death of God” to their students’.
Linker prefers, as I do, ‘liberal atheism’, which is to:
…accept, … that, although I may settle the question of God to my personal satisfaction, it is highly unlikely that all of my fellow citizens will settle it in the same way–that differences in life experience, social class, intelligence, and the capacity for introspection will invariably prevent a free community from reaching unanimity about the fundamental mysteries of human existence, including God. Liberal atheists accept this situation; ideological atheists do not.
Ideological atheists would take the side of two critics of church schools quoted in today’s Age. In a feature article, psychologist Louise Samway as reported as saying of Christian schools:
these schools are balkanising the community, “driving us apart”. “Values are the foundation of human bonding,” the psychologist and educationist told The Age. “If we don’t have agreed values that everyone can understand and respect, that are common, it leads to a whole lot of disparate sub-groups that are suspicious of each other.”