Before sending your child to the Good News Club, ask yourself the following questions.
- Do I want my child to be converted to fundamentalist Christianity?
- Can being taught she is “deeply wicked” and “deserves to die” harm my child?
- Do I want my child to be repeatedly pressured to accept Jesus as his personal Savior?
- Do I want my child to be taught that the authority of the Good News Club is higher than the authority of parents and teachers, and that questioning Club authority is a sin?
- Can attending the Good News Club damage my child’s self-esteem?
- Do I want my child to think that God is reading her mind and judging her thoughts?
- Do I want my child to be taught that his parents and playmates are going to Hell if they don’t accept the Good News Club’s teachings?
- Do I want my child to be told not to be friends with non-believers or people of different faiths?
- Do I want my child to be taught that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that teachers who don’t agree are “servants of Satan”?
- Is public elementary school the right place for my child to receive religious education?
Do I want my child to be converted to fundamentalist Christianity?
It’s critical for parents to understand that the goal of the Good News Club is to change their child’s religious beliefs. Specifically, the Good News Club wants to convert your child to its extreme version of fundamentalist Christianity.
Justice David Souter, in his 2001 Supreme Court opinion, wrote: “It is beyond question that Good New Clubs intend to use the public school premises not for the mere discussion of a subject from a particular, Christian point of view, but for an evangelical service of worship calling children to commit themselves in an act of Christian conversion.”
The Good News Club’s mission statement also states the goal of conversion: “The purpose of Good News Club is to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and establish (disciple) them in the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living.”
Can being taught she is “deeply wicked” and “deserves to die” harm my child?
The Good News Club uses shame and fear of punishment to convert children. Kids as young as four or five are told they were born with evil hearts and deserve to be punished forever for their “sinful nature.” Convincing children that they are sinners establishes their need for a savior.
Would your child just shrug off being told that her very nature is wicked and that she “deserves to die” because of it? Or would she be one of the kids who deeply internalizes these messages, developing a negative self-image and feelings of fear, doubt, shame and anxiety that could last into adulthood?
Some child psychologists say that Good News Club doctrines are abusive, amounting to religious bullying and intimidation. One psychologist who studied Club doctrines stated they are “incompatible with mental health.”
A former Good News Club student wrote: “Here I am, a fifty-one year old college professor, still smarting from the wounds inflicted by the righteous when I was a child. I thought I would leave all of that “God loves…God hates…” stuff behind, but not so. Such deep and confusing fear is not easily forgotten.”
Do I want my child to be repeatedly pressured to accept Jesus as his personal Savior?
Each Good News Club class includes an “Invitation,” where children are pressured to accept Jesus as their personal Savior.
Children who aren’t born-again Christians might be asked to raise their hands, isolating them from their classmates. Then they might be asked to meet a teacher at the back of the room so the teacher can try to convince them to convert.
In one lesson from the Club’s curriculum, children are asked to raise their hands if they’re ready to believe in Jesus as their Savior or if they have questions about what that means. Children who raise their hands are told to meet the teacher later “so I [the teacher] can talk to you more about believing in Jesus and having everlasting life.”
Young children feel a need to please adults and pressure to be a part of the group. It’s hard for them to resist.
Do I want my child to be taught that the authority of the Good News Club is higher than the authority of parents and teachers, and that questioning Club authority is a sin?
Children who attend the Good News Club are taught that there is a higher authority than parents and teachers. That authority is God, and children must obey God and do what God wants them to do or they will go to Hell. Unless your child is having personal conversations with God, it’s actually the Club that’s dictating what God wants her to do and setting itself up as the highest authority in her life.
The Club teaches that if children don’t accept its doctrines and authority, they are “condemned” to Hell. These examples are from the Club’s curriculum:
“When you refuse to believe in God or in the Lord Jesus, His Son, you are sinning,” and “in danger of being separated from God forever.”
“It is a sin to refuse to believe in God and sin must be punished.”
Can attending the Good News Club damage my child’s self-esteem?
Parents who want their children to feel good about themselves should examine the Good News Club’s teachings on self-esteem.
In one essay, the Club says that “it is not Biblical to present ‘self’ as something you esteem.” According to the essay, Job’s expression “I abhor myself and repent in ashes” states how children should feel about themselves.
The essay continues that teaching children “to develop their potential enslaves the person in selfish and sinful habits” and “is against God.” Summing up the Club’s view of children, the essay concludes: “The Bible gives a true picture of the child. May we see children as the Lord sees them; they are sinners, who need a savior. They are guilty in the sight of God.”
By repeatedly characterizing children as so sinful that they are worthy of unthinkable punishment, the Good News Club teaches children to doubt and feel ashamed of themselves. Is this what you want for your child?
Do I want my child to think that God is reading her mind and judging her thoughts?
Imagine how scary it is for a young child to be taught that a powerful being is watching her thoughts and will punish her for all eternity if so much as a bad thought crosses her mind.
A Good News Club mantra, memorized by the students, is that “Sin is anything you think, say or do that displeases God.” The curriculum warns children that God “knows all your thoughts” and that “thinking wrong thoughts…is sin.”
The Club skillfully uses children’s fear of the dark and separation anxiety to frighten them. “You have sinful thoughts,” one lesson about Joseph warns, and “God says the punishment for sin is to be separated from Him forever in a place of darkness called Hell.”
Do I want my child to be taught that his parents and playmates are going to Hell if they don’t accept the Good News Club’s teachings?
The Good News Club has a deeply divided view of humanity, split between their fundamentalist believers and everyone else. The Club teaches that most people are going to Hell, including most people who call themselves Christians. Certainly any of your child’s Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist friends are bound for eternal torture, according to Club teachings.
Children are taught that everyone who doesn’t believe the Club’s doctrines will go to Hell, even their parents. Imagine being young enough to still believe in the Easter Bunny and being told that your mom and dad will be sent to “a terrible place of punishment.”
Children are also told that many of their friends, especially those who don’t belong to the Club, are going to Hell. In many schools, this teaching has led to tearful playground confrontations and friction among friends and families.
Do I want my child to be told not to be friends with non-believers or people of different faiths?
Since children who attend the Good News Club are repeatedly told about the horrible punishment waiting for those who “refuse to believe,” they can’t help but categorize their classmates as either saved or damned.
Club curriculum specifically warns children not to become close friends with non-believing classmates. A Bible story about the Israelites is used to teach this lesson: “God knew that if the people became close friends with those who did not believe in Him they would begin to doubt God too.”
Applying that Old Testament principle to the present, the lesson tries to persuade children from “choosing those who don’t know Jesus as your best friends.” The lesson says, “Don’t become close friends with those who do not love and serve God.” It asks, “Will you read and obey God’s Word, and choose as your best friends others who are loyal to God?”
Do you want your child to be taught to fear and avoid people who don’t have fundamentalist religious beliefs?
Do I want my child to be taught that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that teachers who don’t agree are “servants of Satan”?
The Good News Club encourages its instructors to teach Young Earth Creationism. One instructors guide says: “Since the theory of evolution is freely taught in schools, take this opportunity to help children see the problems with this theory and the logic of the biblical account.” However, instead of a discussion of the scientific evidence, children are taught that belief in science is Satanic and could lead to Hell.
The Club suggests that only non-believers dispute Creationism. “Some who do not believe in God, the Creator, say that the universe just happened,” says a lesson on Beginnings. “It took God only six days to create the world, not billions of years like some people say.”
To the Good News Club, scientific belief is a form of rebellion: “These people refuse to believe God’s Word by faith. They want to reason things out in their own minds so they can do without God.” These scientists, the Club says, are “fools.”
Scientists and teachers may also be servants of Satan, according to the Club’s lesson on Paul, page 27: “Or maybe at school when your teacher talked about evolution, claiming it to be true, you’ve tried to speak up for what you believe but the teacher stopped you. People who aren’t Christians often serve Satan without even knowing it.”
Is public elementary school the right place for my child to receive religious education?
Parents have plenty of opportunities to teach their children about religion and morality at home and church. Public schools, especially elementary schools, should be free from both religious and political evangelizing. How would evangelical Christians feel if Muslims, Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics, atheists and Satanists were forcing their programs into public schools and trying to convert their kids?