Good News Club Proselytizes To Kids In Summer School Classes

Good News Club (GNC) infiltrating schools

Last week, I published a warning to Wisconsin parents that Child Evangelism Fellowship, the parent company of liars for Jesus — also known as the Good News Club — is targeting Milwaukee-area schools in order to solicit children to attend their clubs.  Because of a 2001 Supreme Court case, the Good News Club is allowed to operate on school property, but only during non-school hours just like any other organization unaffiliated with the school. As we know from dozens of previous SecularVoices posts, the Good News Club isn’t big on operating within the rules… because Jesus.

Good News ClubTheir latest violation occurred at Schulte Elementary School in Sturtevant, Wisconsin.  According to the Freedom from Religion Foundation (also based in WI), who is tracking the GNC’s current infiltration, volunteers from the Good News Club entered summer school classes at Schulte to proselytize to kids and invite them to their club. That’s a clear violation of the First Amendment, not to mention a pretty creepy thing for adults to do.  But since they claim to be guided by an invisible absentee father in the sky, they think it’s ok to break the law.  According to FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover:

Because the 5-Day Club at Schulte Elementary operated at the same time as the summer program, club organizers were essentially asking students to abandon their summer school and join an evangelical mission. This behavior is reprehensible and raises constitutional issues for the school district.

Yeah, I’d say.  I think it’s grounds to kick the Good News Club off campus permanently.  If I were a parent of one of those kids, you’d better believe I wouldn’t rest until that happened.  All I can hope is that a parent of one of these kids reads this and calls a lawyer. I’m wondering if a parent could get a restraining order against the GNC based on this unapproved contact with their child, forcing them off the school’s campus. Just thinking out loud as I write this…

The FFRF informs us that the school district did their best to comply with the law, but that the GNC volunteers went rogue due to poor attendance:

Racine Unified School District took steps to ensure that advertisements by the 5-Day Club included a disclaimer of school endorsement. But because club organizers were mistakenly allowed into classrooms to advertise their evangelical agenda during the school day, no disclaimer can overcome the appearance that the district endorses the club’s religious message.

For its part, the Racine school district appears to have done its best to abide by its constitutional obligations, notes Grover. The district acknowledged the concerns raised in FFRF’s letter, but relied on assurances from 5-Day Club organizers that summer school students would not be exposed to the 5-Day Club and its evangelical message. The district was told that the 5-Day Club would meet exclusively on the playground, start after students were already inside for summer school, and conclude before students were let out. The club’s low attendance numbers the past Monday may have prompted organizers to circumvent district administrators and enter summer school classrooms to evangelize.

Chalk it up as just one more example of how underhanded and deceitful the Good News Club is.  Their staff and volunteers feel they answer to an authority greater than the law, which makes them above it.  We need to be vigilant and provide a reality check to those who have ignored reality altogether.  It takes work, but the rewards outweigh the labor.

 

[Originally published at Secular Voices on July 27, 2017]

Kevin Davis is the Founder and Managing Director of SecularVoices.org, and the author of Understanding an Atheist: A Practical Guide to Relating to Nonbelievers, a book aimed at improving relationships between the religious and their atheist loved ones.
He’s most recently known for being co-founder and Executive Director for Young Skeptics, an elementary-level after-school program for kids. Young Skeptics was launched in January 2015 as an alternative to the controversial Good News Club, an organization operating in public schools that evangelizes children and spreads fundamentalist Christian doctrine focused on shaming children for their sins.

His writing has been featured or mentioned on CNN, Huffington Post, Salon, RichardDawkins.net, Patheos, and many others.

You can find Kevin on Twitter (@SecularVoices) and Facebook.

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