Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades


I am neither Jew nor Gentile, Mahomedan nor Theist; I am but a member of the human family, and would accept of truth by whomsoever offered -- that truth which we can all find, if we will but seek—in things, not in words; in nature, not in human imagination; in our own hearts, not in temples made with hands. — Frances Wright, freethinker and social reformer

This workshop introduces atheism and agnosticism. The combined category of "nonbelievers" is the third largest religious group on earth, comprising 1.1 billion, or one in every six, people. Mostly, though, it is a silent crowd. The exception is the tiny but expressive subset of vocal atheist political activists. This group campaigns tirelessly for separation of church and state—work that benefits everyone—and for freedom from religion, that is, for freedom from governments or other organizations forcing religious views or practices on religious minorities or non religious people. This workshop explores the religious philosophies of atheism and agnosticism, the impact of atheism on Western society, and some important issues associated with atheism. It raises awareness among participants of the high percentage of atheists in Unitarian Universalism and the resultant importance of related issues to our denomination.

Expect youth who identify as atheists or agnostics to be in the group. They will therefore be quite engaged in this workshop. Make sure that youth who not identify in this way are heard and respected, too.


This workshop will:

  • Introduce participants to fundamentals of atheism and agnosticism
  • Acquaint participants with some important legal successes of the American atheist movement
  • Learn how novelist Mary McCarthy went from believer to nonbeliever in a God
  • Consider the importance of atheists and agnostics to Unitarian Universalism.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Deepen their understanding of the many forms of religious belief, including nonbelief
  • Explore feelings associated with losing or changing religious faith
  • Become familiar with and able to discuss important accomplishments of atheist activists, especially in separation of church and state, and consider effective approaches to advocacy.