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Charles Terrano -- American Atheists Youth Outreach Director

Afternoon session -- April 2

The Friday afternoon session continued with a brief presentation by Charles Terrano, the new National Youth Outreach Director of American Atheists who spoke on “Atheism and Youth.” A computer hardware developer, Mr. Terrano is a former Roman Catholic who started to question the foundations of Biblical truth, and began his intellectual journey to Atheism.

Mr. Terrano told the convention that based on his own experience, many Atheist youth feel that they are alone, that they are the only Atheists in the world. “ Many of them go to public schools -- and what do they hear? It’s not math, it’s not science -- what they hear is from their fellow youth, that they should convert, that they should worship Jesus.”

He added that the Christian parents often induce their children to become recruiters and proselytizers for religion. Terrano noted that he receives a constant stream of e-mail from Atheist youth who complain of harassment, threats of violence and other forms of intimidation.

“It’s my job to help these children in any way possible... what I’m trying to do is to tell these youth that “you’re not alone, be yourself, don’t be afraid to express a minority opinion.” He added that “getting youngsters to think and to question” is one of the most important thing parents can do in supporting their children.

“Children shouldn’t be turned into mindless drones to some authority like the church.”

Mr. Terrano said that of all the correspondence he receives, the most horrifying come from children who say that their own parents have condemned them to hell because they question the tenets of religion and the existence of God.

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