I was at the bar the other day, and an acquaintance mentioned off the cuff something about religion. I showed him my card, indicating we shared a perspective, as I am a registered preacher for the first church of atheism.
This took him a moment to comprehend, apparently. He proceeded to tell me, in a tone that was clearly demonstrating his unease, that he didn't like atheist churches because they were going around collecting monies to build atheist schools in developing nations. This, said he, is why he is a secular atheist.
Now, it is important to note that there is not a physical house of worship yet, and there is but one established Sect of atheistic churches. Upon cursory examination of Google, as well at the FCA website, I could find no such examples of atheist churches building schools in such places.
But let us consider for a moment what an atheist school would really teach. As an atheist, i tend to know more about most religions than most people do. Atheist curriculum would logically be the core STEM stuff, language (perhaps more than one, as early language learning helps encourage better thought processes, studies have shown), arts, cultural studies, and just about every other subject one might imagine in the typical public school. Even religious studies would be fine, I think. It is amazing how many Sunday schools and missionary schools seem to forget about the vast majority of gods that aren't theirs. Ask the average Christian to name thirty gods other than their own (substitute Muslim, Jew, Mormon, etc. ), or thirty religions, and see how complete the list is, without counting sects of various religions (protestants and catholics are all Christian, as Shiite and Sunni are both Islamic).
So, as one can see, I didn't really understand the derision. Is it really so bad to want to teach kids math without teaching them that they will go to hell unless some magic water is sprinkled on them? Is it really so bad to tell kids that it is moral to treat people equally, but then bringing up that some gods think that women and children should be subservient to men? How can we teach children that it us not okay to kill, but then explain that various gods extol the virtues of killing enemies (matthew 10:34, quran 4:89, Grímnismál, et cetera)? This is an untenable and indefensible proposition.
Let us move on to the secular portion. I know of no atheist who also doesn't encourage separation of church and state. Secularism has nothing to do with atheism. I do not wish to insert atheist churches into schools, but Christians do this all the time. Some Christians are indeed secular as well. Oddly enough, most Jewish are also quite secular. Perhaps it is a firm belief in Jesus that removes secularism. Even most Islamic peoples do not support (and actively decry, as Malala, the 17 year old Nobel Peace prize winner, does) in exactly the same way most Christians decry the violence of Jesus (as Luke 19:27 for example). The point is, secularism has nothing to do with being theistic, in much the same way theism has nothing to do with being agnostic. Every person in the atheist church should logically be secular. We don't want religion in schools, we want education in schools.
Although, it is probably worth pointing out that the supreme court now thinks that most religious services are just speech from a religious viewpoint. I wonder if that means that church buildings and staff should no longer receive tax benefits, since Sunday services aren't actually religious now. ..