Thoughts of a former evangelical Christian

The Good News Club Curriculum: An Overview

In Child Evangelism Fellowship, Good News Club on May 15, 2013 at 4:27 am

Other posts on this blog–see here and here and here–have discussed the dark gospel of Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Good News Club.  This post reviews troubling content from a much wider sample of CEF’s Good News Club curriculum.


The Club’s curriculum is a 5-year-long series of weekly Bible  stories—about 120 in all—most of which are drawn from the Biblical books and/or characters of Genesis, Jesus, Paul, Moses, King David, Daniel, Joseph,  Joshua, Esther, Elisha, Elijah, and Judges. Each 60-90 minute lesson is interwoven with presentations of the “Gospel” according to the so-called  “Wordless Book.” The “Wordless Book” refers to the colors gold, black, red, white, and green, which respectively symbolize heaven, the child’s sin nature, Jesus’s shed blood, righteousness, and growth. Each Bible story is divided into sections; and in between each section, the lesson draws a parallel between the preceding section of the Bible story and one of the “Wordless Book” themes. Most lessons also feature didactic exercises, memory verse quizzes, songs, games and prizes, all designed to reinforce the lesson themes.

This post discusses the contents of the 21 lesson books of the Club’s  2006-2011 curriculum cycle.[1]  The Club’s current curriculum cycle includes 18 of the same lesson books.[2]

Shame indoctrination

The Club’s dominant theme is sin. Its 5-year curriculum includes over 5000 references to sin, compared to less than 2000 references to “love.” Spread over 120 one-hour lessons, a child can expect to hear a reference to “sin” approximately every 90 seconds.

Each lesson uses a black heart to vividly symbolize a child’s inner self.  The black heart impresses children with a deeply personal sense of their own inadequacy and sordidness. “You were born with darkness in your heart because of  sin,” says one lesson on blind Bartimaeus.[3] “Your heart (the real you) is sinful from the time you are born,” exclaims a lesson on the golden calf.[4]

The Club frequently reminds children that they are “deceitful,” “dishonest,” and “desperately wicked.”[5] A lesson on Cain and Abel warns: “your heart is very sinful…. You may think you’re pretty good, but when God sees your heart He sees it is full of sin.”[6] Another lesson on Jacob and Esau declares: “Others may think that you are a good person, but God knows what you’re really like on the inside. He knows that deep down you are a sinner—you were born that way.”[7] “God says none of us are good,” explains a lesson on God’s omniscience.[8] Even the concept of redemption is used to deprecate children. “As Jesus hung on the cross, God punished him for your sin and your deceitful heart.”[9]


Guidelines for Drafting a Facility Use Policy

In Child Evangelism Fellowship, Good News Club on May 15, 2013 at 3:28 am

Intrinsic Dignity has released detailed guidelines for drafting a facility use policy to protect elementary public school students from emotional and psychological abuse from outside groups.  The guidelines accompany a comprehensive article that surveys public forum, equal access, and religion clause caselaw relevant to religious clubs and uses in public elementary schools.  Here’s the title of the abstract, entitled “Protecting Public Elementary School Children from Emotional and Psychological Harm By Outside Groups”:

In 2001, the Supreme Court gave the Good News Club equal access to Milford Central School to teach elementary students after-school religious “moral and character” lessons. Today, there are over 4,000 Good News Clubs in America’s public schools, telling 5-12 year-olds that they are sinful from birth, deserve to die and go to Hell, to not become close friends with their non-Christian classmates, and to be afraid of thoughts, beliefs and scientific facts that displease God. Can schools do anything to stop it?

Yes and no. Public schools cannot deny equal access to groups merely because they are religious. But the principle of neutrality works both ways. Religious groups must play by the same rules—including not harming children—as any other group. Schools can—through the careful drafting and application of religiously neutral policies—act to protect the psychological, emotional, and intellectual well-being of their elementary schoolchildren.

To plot the legal authority guiding public school regulation of after-class forums, this article surveys caselaw on public forums, student speech, other special categories of speech, church autonomy, and equal access statutes. This article also provides guidelines for drafting a child-protective facility use policy and proposes a model facility use policy.

Also check out Intrinsic Dignity’s redesigned website.

Improbability of Disbelief

In Christianity as Tribalism: Leaving the Tribe on March 19, 2013 at 1:56 am

Many who have never been steeped in religious faith are baffled at the seeming imperviousness of faith to reason. For many, however, faith is not merely a set of ideas. It is an identity. Doubts and disbelief represent existential threats to that identity. The more deeply embedded faith is in a person’s positive sense of self, and the more negative a person’s self image is outside of his or her religious identity, the more difficult it is to escape. One reason religion is so effective is that it systematically strips away every positive sense of self one might have that is not rooted in one’s religious identity.

Some time ago, I developed a flow chart to illustrate some of the common thought processes and defense mechanisms that believers employ to maintain and preserve their faith. The flowchart below, while merely illustrative (the order is not critical) and incomplete, should be helpful in shedding some insight into the mind of a true believer.

Click on the image below.