Murray, UT—Almost every morning, dozens of LDS students at AISU make their way to a local church to have a seminary class before school. Somewhat surprisingly, these sleepy-eyed students and their early-morning scripture study have aroused the envy and anger of—of all people—AISU’s atheists, who are demanding their own seminary class to express their lack of belief.
“The idea that students can come together and discuss their faith is absurd,” said one outspoken student. “Everyone knows that’s not what school is about. The only way this should be allowed is if atheists such as myself are allowed to have our own seminary.”
LDS seminary teachers and students alike are scratching their heads at the idea, though they say they are not necessarily opposed to it. “I wonder if our non-believing AISU students know that they are perfectly welcome to attend our seminary,” one seminary teacher pointed out. “If the point is to discuss what they don’t believe, well, we spend the whole class talking about things they don’t believe.”
However, the requested anti-theological seminary would be different from LDS seminary in one important way: “Ours wouldn’t be held early in the morning,” the atheist student explained. “We would request release time during school hours.” Experts generally agree that asking teenagers to wake up early for the sake of their beliefs is one thing; asking them to do that for the sake of unbelief is probably unrealistic.
The great majority of students and liberals have been very pro-atheism seminary since the program was first proposed. In fact, the idea has become so popular that a few others have suggested their own classes based on a lack of belief or knowledge. The entirety of SM2 are creating a class to discuss their nonexistent understanding of quadratics. A similar English class is designing a course based on not studying Shakespeare.
AISU administrators have not commented on the viability of these classes, but they have said that in order to avoid potential lawsuits, they will consider an atheist seminary and that such a class would will “definitely” be scheduled for release time. In preparation for this, masterminds behind the program have already begun planning a class discussion schedule and a sample agenda for a typical class. According to a source close to the program, each atheist seminary class will include:
- An opening devotional in which the class chooses not to pray or sing a religious song, followed by a student’s testimony of their lack of belief, and a quick opening monologue on existentialism.
- A lesson on the science of life and nihilism philosophy.
- A final monologue on evolution.
Critics have pointed out that this curriculum is much too similar to science class, except that it vocally expresses the subtext of the lessons. “Let me get this straight,” one LDS seminary student put it. “This will be a class in which we discuss life from a purely secular perspective and deny the existence of God at every opportunity? How is that different from every class I go to every day besides seminary?”