Other Side of the Story
What is really happening in Good News Club?
There have been steady attacks on Child Evangelism Fellowship in general, particularly on Good News Clubs. Many of these attacks have been launched on the Internet and most of the time the attackers are atheist individuals or groups. Child Evangelism Fellowship would like to correct the misinformation in these attacks. These individuals are atheists and do not believe in God. They reject the Bible and everything in it. If Christians stand for the truth of God’s Word, they too will be attacked.
Child Evangelism Fellowship and Good News Clubs have been accused of teaching children in the public schools about genocide. A group of atheists claim in several YouTube videos and Internet articles that we are inciting children to violence.
Child Evangelism Fellowship Good News Clubs meet through the school year and have a five-year cycle of literature for Bible lessons, memory verses and other club elements. The story referred to by this group of atheists is found in I Samuel 15 where God commands Saul to destroy the Amalekites. We touch on that story, not to focus on God’s judgment on the Amalekites, but to mention the issue of Saul’s continuing disobedience to God. It is a historical event that sets the scene for the future reign of King David. There is no doubt that this is a difficult passage in Scripture. As we teach the Bible to the children, we spend very few minutes on that passage in a five-year period.
No doubt passages in the Bible referring to God’s judgment are strong passages. Atheists have in their minds removed God from existence and thus reject completely the idea of God’s judging people.
The Bible reports human history over a span of thousands of years. The history of mankind is full of wars, battles and destruction. The Bible, too, reports many of those events. Children hear about wars in school when they study history and in the news at home. In all the years that CEF has taught this lesson it has never been an issue with the children or with the parents, until a group of atheists went on the attack. They have made it an issue because what they are really attacking is not Child Evangelism Fellowship and Good News Clubs. They are attacking God and His Word, the Bible.
When this Bible lesson on David comes up again in our cycle in a few years it will be thoroughly reviewed and we will decide then if we continue to teach using that passage from Scripture or another one. We go through the process of evaluation on a regular basis.
What Child Evangelism Fellowship volunteers teach the children on an ongoing basis in every Good News Club is that they need to love God and love others.
The bottom line is that the United States Supreme Court said that Good News Clubs have the right to use school facilities after the last bell rings just like any other organization does. Also, every child that comes to a Good News Club held in public school can only attend if he or she brings a registration form signed by a parent. Parents are welcome to come and sit in the room while Good News Club is going on. Principals and teachers are free to come and sit in the room as well.
The truth of the matter is that Child Evangelism Fellowship is not inciting children to violence, but to love. The results of Good News Clubs in the public schools after the last bell rings have exactly the opposite results from those the atheists claim. We hear testimonial after testimonial from principals, teachers and parents of children whose lives have been transformed for the better. We hear reports of improved behavior, improved test scores, improved environment in the schools, etc. At an elementary school on the East Coast, the suspension rate dropped from 11.5% to 2.5% … and report card grades are up since the Good News Club started at the school. The school’s principal said, “That’s hard data. The Good News Club works. The Good News Club has just brought peace to our school!” As children learn about God and begin walking with Christ, they begin to display the love of Christ in their lives. That is something atheists cannot offer. Our prayer is that they too will come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
Much of the artwork and visuals that certain groups show in their attack videos did not originate with Child Evangelism Fellowship and are not used in Good News Clubs. They are an intentional misrepresentation of what we teach and show children.
Child Evangelism Fellowship and Good News Clubs teach the children a very dark message that they are sinners. This message is a form of child abuse.
This is not an attack on Child Evangelism Fellowship and Good News Clubs. This is an attack on the Bible. The Bible teaches that all human beings are sinners, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “All” means adults and children. The Bible also teaches that the consequence of sin is eternal separation from God, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). We do teach about the sinful condition of mankind in Good News Clubs and make no apologies about it because we are teaching the Holy Word of God.
The reason atheists reject this teaching about sin is because they don’t believe in God and what He has to say about sin. The teaching about sin comes from a Holy God who sets standards of morality. Breaking the laws of God is sin and will one day bring about God’s judgment on each individual. Atheists reject these biblical truths and so they attack those who teach them.
It doesn’t take long to find out that even the most advanced countries in the world are full of sinners. If you turn on the evening news you realize this very quickly. Our jails and prisons are full. Over two million Americans are incarcerated. Many leave prison early because there is no room for them. Those outside of the prison walls are no saints. Scandals among business people, sports stars, politicians and famous entertainers abound–and those are the elite of our society. People cheat on their taxes, their spouses and their schoolwork. They abuse alcohol and drugs. Those are the sins we can see. Then there are the sins that take place in our hearts—hatred, lust, envy, etc. Anyone who raises children quickly realizes that even at a young age they are fully capable of sin. You don’t have to teach them to be selfish, to hit their siblings, to throw tantrums to get their way, to disobey their parents, etc. Now those that don’t want to acknowledge the existence of God will give all these things some other name, but the Bible calls it sin. Every human being is a sinner.
What the atheists neglected to mention in their attacks is that Child Evangelism Fellowship and Good News Clubs teach the children that God loves them. We spend a lot of time teaching about the love of God. In fact, God loves us all so much that He sent His only Son, the Lord Jesus, to be our Savior from sin. The angels announced this at the birth of Christ, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). We also teach about God’s wonderful forgiveness that He so graciously gives to us sinners. John 8 tells about a woman caught in adultery who was brought to the Lord Jesus by men ready to kill her. Jesus responded to her accusers, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” After they all left because they realized they were all sinners too, Jesus responded to the woman, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Child Evangelism Fellowship teaches the children in Good News Clubs that God loves them and that God desires to forgive their sins through faith in Christ. This is not a message of abuse; it is a wonderful message of hope and liberation from the destructive power of sin. Every human being desires to be forgiven. We live in an age of growth in violence among children all over this country. Recently I read about a meeting in Washington, D.C. where city officials came together to try to find solutions to a growing problem of children killing children. The biblical teaching of God’s love, of sin, of forgiveness in Christ has proven for many, many years to be a message that completely changes the lives of multitudes of children. Once children experience transformation in their hearts their behavior starts changing and those around them (principals, teachers, parents) see it and they love it. We have many testimonials from children, parents, school officials that confirm this. Our hope is that those atheists that attack Child Evangelism Fellowship, Good News Clubs and the Bible would also come to faith in Christ.
Since the Good News Club is a religious club it shouldn’t be meeting in public schools.
On June 11, 2001 the Supreme Court ruled that Good News Clubs have equal rights to use public school facilities for meetings if other groups are also allowed to use the campus during that time. This issue was brought to the Supreme Court when Christians in New York requested permission from their school district to hold a Good News Club after school using school facilities. The school denied permission on grounds that “the club engaged in religious instruction and the young elementary students would mistakenly believe the school endorsed religion, especially since the club met immediately after the last bell.” The Court rejected all these arguments…. The Supreme Court based its decision on the Equal Access Act as well as the First Amendment of the Constitution. The Supreme Court recognized that if other non-curriculum clubs were meeting after school then the Good News Club had that same right, whether they were teaching religious material or not. Also, the Supreme Court ruled that the possibility that students might associate the school with the club was not sufficient grounds to deny access. Furthermore, because parental permission is required for attendance at the club the Court ruled the Good News Club could meet on school property after the last bell rings.
The Good News Club has been welcomed at schools across the nation. One principal said, “The program has been very well received by our parents who signed their children up for the program. I have heard only positive remarks about the Good News Club and their dedicated volunteers. I would highly recommend it to other schools and principals.”
Another principal said, “I am so pleased that CEF selected us as the site for the Good News Cluband I am excited about the participation of the parents and students. I look forward to the continuation of this program in our schools.”
Principals, teachers and parents have found the Good News Club to be a positive influence in the life of the school. CEF does not force any child to attend the club and children cannot attend without parental consent.
School Administrators Are Excited about Good News Clubs
“The program has been very well received by our parents who signed their children up for the program. I have heard only positive remarks about the Good News Club and their dedicated volunteers. I would highly recommend it to other schools and principals.” — T.F., Principal
“The Good News Club is ‘good news.’ The program has been successful in our school from the initial meeting. I have been impressed with the desire to make the program non-invasive to the school setting. The program is working at B. Elementary.” –P.C., Principal
“It has been such a blessing to have the Good News Club join the B. C. family this school year…. A special thanks for providing positive role models and a quality program for our students. It’s been a joy and we look forward to another great year!” — S.M., Principal
“I am so pleased that CEF selected us as the site for the Good News Club and I am excited about the participation of the parents and students. I look forward to the continuation of this program in our schools.” –Principal
Katherine Stewart wrote a book titled, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. Since she is a journalist, all the accusations in the book against Child Evangelism Fellowship and Good News Clubs must be true.
Katherine Stewart wrote a book titled, Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. She claims to be a journalist, but failed to observe one of the most important elements of journalism when writing her book about Child Evangelism Fellowship and Good News Club. She never contacted the organization’s leadership at our International Headquarters to ask questions. As a matter of fact, she came into one of our conferences and was near many of the CEF® leaders, but never approached any of them to ask questions. This clearly proves her journalism is biased and she wrote this book not to look for the truth about what Good News Clubs are and what impact they are having on children, but to attack the ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship, Good News Clubs, and God. Her book is full of inaccuracies and misrepresentations.
We have compiled a list of questions and answers to clarify but a few of the accusatory statements about Child Evangelism Fellowship and Good News Clubs in Stewart’s book:
What is the purpose of Child Evangelism Fellowship? Our goal is to tell every child around the world about the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If the child freely believes this message, we offer to disciple the child and help establish him or her in a local church.
What message does CEF share with children? Our message is that God loves you and wants you to know Him. He knows and sees that you sin by violating His commands; for example, you lie and hurt others. He knows that you are incapable of paying the penalty for that sin. He sent His perfect Son Jesus Christ to endure this penalty by dying on the cross, so that you can have an eternal loving relationship with God. Three days after Jesus died, He came back to life and now lives in Heaven. If you understand that you sin, are sorry for it and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from it, God will forgive you and you will be saved. He will also help you to change on the inside so you can love Him and other people more. After death, you will go to Heaven to be with Jesus and all those who put their faith in Him. This is the Gospel.
Is CEF conducting a stealth assault on America’s children as the book alleges? CEF invites children to attend Good News Clubs, which are after school Bible clubs. These one-hour programs are held in community centers, private homes, public schools, etc. in order to bring the Gospel of Christ to children on their level in their environment and invite them to believe this Good News. All children must have the permission of their parents to attend. The required registration forms that the parents must sign clearly state that the program is sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship. All activities are conducted in the open and parents are welcome to attend.
Did Ms. Stewart contact CEF leadership as part of her investigation of CEF? Ms. Stewart has never contacted the CEF leadership or senior staff for comment, to confirm facts or to respond to any of her assertions. Ms. Stewart does say in her book that she attended CEF events for investigative purposes without disclosing her intent.
The book alleges that CEF workers bribe children in order to share the Gospel. Good News Clubs routinely provide snacks and treats freely to their attendees. Nothing is required in response from the children. A bribe, by definition, is anything given or promised to induce a person to do something against their wishes. As our name should convey, we are proponents of evangelism, a well-known tenet of Christianity. We encourage children, when they are willing, to share the Gospel with anyone they know, including other children. It is good news, indeed, that God loves us. It is important for children to understand that sharing the Gospel must be done out of love for another and not for personal gain. God alone converts.
Must a leader of a Good News Club make a financial donation of $20,000 to CEF Headquarters (p.47)? While some Good News Clubs are taught by local paid CEF staff, most are led by volunteers who are not required to make any financial contribution of any sort to CEF other than purchasing the club curriculum at a cost of less than $200 per year. CEF does not require donations from its workers. Consistent with its charter, a local CEF chapter commits to giving ten percent of its revenue to the state CEF office. State offices, in turn, commit ten percent of the money they receive to CEF Headquarters. Consequently, one percent of all money raised by the local chapters is committed to CEF Headquarters. This money accounts for 2.2 percent of CEF Headquarters’ entire budget and is used to cover administrative costs and strengthen the ministry throughout the country.
What is the relationship of CEF Headquarters to the CEF chapters around the country? CEF Headquarters grants charters to the state chapters and these chapters must abide by the policies of the CEF International Board of Trustees. Each state chapter is independently incorporated with its own board. CEF Headquarters trains CEF staff members who, in turn, train volunteers at the local level. The CEF Headquarters also equips staff and volunteers with the literature they will need to teach children and develops new products which may be purchased from CEF Headquarters for use.
What relationship does Mr. Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel have with CEF? Mr. Staver is the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, an international litigation, education, and policy organization. Mr. Staver is one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional attorneys. He has argued before the United States Supreme Court and has filed many briefs before the High Court. He is admitted to every federal court of appeals in the country. Liberty Counsel attorneys are well-versed and skilled in Constitutional law and the First Amendment. Liberty Counsel is an independent public interest law firm that represents CEF across the country.
Does CEF promote Good News Club to parents as a “Bible study” and then evangelize their children without their knowledge? The main theme of the Bible from cover to cover is the redemption of mankind. Therefore, any Bible study or Bible story at a Good News Club includes teaching on salvation provided by God through His Son Jesus Christ. It is stated on the Good News Club registration form, which parents must sign in order for their children to attend, that the club is sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship. Also parents are free to come and attend Good News Club to see firsthand what their children are learning.
What is the CEF policy toward the public schools? CEF supports the traditional role of the public schools to educate children to become good citizens. Any instruction of children by CEF is intended to supplement and support their school education. The individual citizen who volunteers for CEF may have a personal opinion about the conduct of the schools where he or she resides, as is any citizen’s right.
The opponents of the Good News Club claim that Child Evangelism Fellowship deceives the parents of the children who are invited to Good News Club by not telling them that this is a religious club where the Bible is clearly taught.
The standard Good News Club promotional flyer/registration form produced by Child Evangelism Fellowship explains what the club is, where and when it meets, what the child will learn, who teaches the club. It has details about children being picked up after school, etc.
The following are direct quotes from the flyer:
“Good News Club is an exciting, fun-filled hour once a week. It includes: Dynamic Bible Lessons, Creative Learning Activities, Inspiring Missionary Stories, Meaningful Songs and Life-Changing Scripture Memory.” We are not trying to hide that Good News Club is a Bible club.
“Your child will learn: respect for authority, moral values, character qualities and biblical principles.” Children will learn in Good News Club to love God and love others. Teachers and parents will notice a positive difference in the lives of children.
“’Sponsored by: Child Evangelism Fellowship’” The name of our organization is on the flyer and it is very obvious by reading our organization’s name that we evangelize to children.
“’Who can attend? All boys and girls ages 5-12, regardless of religious background. Parents are welcome to attend with child.’” CEF has an open-door policy for parents of children to attend Good News Club at any time. We have nothing to hide from parents. School officials are also welcome to attend Good News Club at any time.
“’This is not an activity of the school or the school district.’” We place this in the registration form to let parents know that this is a private club that is using the school facility after the last bell rings.
Children who attend Good News Club bring home many pieces of Christian literature. We give them slips of paper with Bible verses to memorize, free devotional books, at times free Bibles, etc. Parents can easily see every week that their child is attending a religious club. Obviously parents can stop their child from attending Good News Club any time they desire.