As if the attack on our schools and the textbooks isn’t bad enough it seems that, behind the scenes, is an even more frightening prospect; easily the most dangerous method of filling their rapidly-depleting ranks of faithful followers. As more and more families are “coming out” as secular-minded and the reach of the church diminishes, they have been busy sneaking in through a side door and they are using a legal precedence to get in.
An Evangelical group, calling themselves “The Good News Club” is using public school classrooms in an after school program to teach children the “Word of God”. Why is this a problem? It undermines our Constitutional separation of church and state. It’s using fear to indoctrinate children at an impressionable age (usually between 4 and 13) into complete obedience.
The Good News Club (GNC) is perfect for what they are intending. The creators have developed a very effective program using a reward system and absolute fear. Because they are holding these “classes” after school hours at schools across the country (over 3,000 schools, reaching some 900,000 children in 2012, according to Child Evangelism Fellowship) the children are under the impression that it’s real information. After all, children go to school to learn. If it’s taught at school, it must therefor be true. They are unable to distinguish between school-sanctioned programs and a program that’s simply held at the school.
So what is it? The club uses songs, games and snacks to cover up the fact that they are using dark biblical teachings about sin and Hell. Telling children that things like refusing to clean their room is not just a sin but a ticket straight to the fiery pit for an eternity of suffering. Children are told that they are born “full of sin” and “deserve to go to Hell” if they show any signs of independence. Sound extreme? It gets worse.
Eric Cernyar, an attorney who attended GNC as a child, remarked, “The Good News Club likes to market itself as an organization that teaches morals. Well let me tell you what the supreme moral of the Good News Club is: Obedience. Complete obedience, under any circumstance. Even commands to commit genocide, if that’s what God commands.”
Taking this belief one step further they use the ordered genocide of the Amalekites by God as an example. They explain that because Saul failed in his completion of the genocide he is ultimately rejected from heaven by God. They use this example to show that not following God’s orders to the exact letter, no matter what the order will result in refusal in to heaven later. Bryan Halloway, House of Representatives for North Carolina (and former high school teacher) supports this sort of belief by saying “We may or may not know what His purpose for asking him to do these kinds of things were and I think, for me I take the bible for what it says…if God ordered it, then it was good.”
Earlier I mentioned a legal precedence. There was a case seen in the Supreme Court (no. 99-2036) Good News Club et al. v. Milford Central School in which a Conservative judge ruled in favor of Good News Club, stating that among other things Milford violated the Club’s free speech rights when it excluded the Club from meeting after hours at the school. This win not only allowed for their club to hold “classes” in Milford, but the precedence opened the flood gates throughout the entire country. This also raises the GNC above the rest of the after-school programs because now it cannot be prevented, whereas
programs like art or even gender and special interest-based programs can. This club has become untouchable.
Not everyone who follows the Christian faith agrees with what GNC is up to. Reverend J Brent Walker, Executive Director – Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty stated, “It’s not government’s job to do what Jesus commissioned his church to do. It’s not biblical. I must not ask my government to promote my religion if I don’t want government to promote someone else’s religion and I must not permit government to commit harm to someone else’s religion if I don’t want government to harm my religion.”
Reverend Barry Lynn ~ Executive Director – Americans United for Separation of Church and State has a theory as to why Christians are going through all this trouble. “I’ve been at this a long time and for decades I’ve been hearing people say ‘Well it is a Christian country but we don’t want to have a theocracy,’ meaning they don’t want a country run strictly along Christian religious lines, but I think they are fibbing about that. I think people on the so-called religious right want to create a Christian-based, bible-based legal system in the United States and if you are a non-Christian you are a second class citizen.”
So, are right-wing Christians working toward a theocracy? I do not believe that the majority of the people involved with the “Good News Club” are bad. I am sure that they feel they are just educating children of “God’s Word.” If this is true though, why does it feel like an attempt to create a generation of Christians prepared to carry out whatever order “God” decides to issue? Is it perhaps to create a self-fulfilling prophesy? If so, what is to become of those of us who are “second class citizens?” I have no way of knowing any of these answers, I just know I fear for the future of our nation.