Chris and I have kicked around the idea of starting a secular church that would try to offer the community and values of a regular church, without the brainwashing. According to this article in Time magazine, some Palo Alto parents have actually taken action: a Sunday school for atheist children. Excerpt:
The Palo Alto Sunday family program uses music, art and discussion to encourage personal expression, intellectual curiosity and collaboration. One Sunday this fall found a dozen children up to age 6 and several parents playing percussion instruments and singing empowering anthems like I’m Unique and Unrepeatable, set to the tune of Ten Little Indians, instead of traditional Sunday-school songs like Jesus Loves Me. Rather than listen to a Bible story, the class read Stone Soup, a secular parable of a traveler who feeds a village by making a stew using one ingredient from each home.
Makes sense. I know a bunch of atheist parents who struggle with how to transmit values and talk about morality with their children. Religion makes it easy. In particular, the reward/punishment structure around enforcing the values is absolutely brilliant.