Christian fundamentalist “Good News Club” promotes genocide of nonbelievers in public schools
As if fighting tooth and nail for the right to teach creation myths as scientific fact weren’t bad enough, evangelical Christians are now promoting the genocide of nonbelievers as their god’s will. And teaching it to elementary school kids.
Christian jihad, anyone?
The so-called “Good News Club” is a ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship. They aren’t shy about their position of promoting evangelical Christianity. From CEF’s own website:
Each week the teacher presents an exciting Bible lesson using colorful materials from CEF Press®. This action-packed time also includes songs, Scripture memory, a missions story and review games or other activities focused on the lesson’s theme.
As with all CEF ministries, 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.
These “clubs” meet in public schools all over the country–possibly even yours. In Salem, Oregon, the state capital, they meet in public schools in the Salem-Keizer school district.
This particular district also graciously hosts the New Life Community Church, an aggressively evangelical organization, at its Bush Elementary School.
What does the Good News Club teach? One of the stories is that of Saul and the Amalekites, and it comes early–the second week of the curriculum.
It’s not a pretty story, and it is often used by people who don’t intend to do pretty things. In the book of 1 Samuel (15:3), God said to Saul:
"Now go, attack the Amalekites, and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys."
Saul dutifully exterminated the women, the children, the babies and all of the men – but then he spared the king. He also saved some of the tastier looking calves and lambs. God was furious with him for his failure to finish the job.
The story of the Amalekites has been used to justify genocide throughout the ages. According to Pennsylvania State University Professor Philip Jenkins, a contributing editor for the American Conservative, the Puritans used this passage when they wanted to get rid of the Native American tribes. Catholics used it against Protestants, Protestants against Catholics. "In Rwanda in 1994, Hutu preachers invoked King Saul’s memory to justify the total slaughter of their Tutsi neighbors," writes Jenkins in his 2011 book, Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses.
This fall, more than 100,000 American public school children, ranging in age from four to 12, are scheduled to receive instruction in the lessons of Saul and the Amalekites in the comfort of their own public school classrooms. The instruction, which features in the second week of a weekly "Bible study" course, will come from the Good News Club, an after-school program sponsored by a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). The aim of the CEF is to convert young children to a fundamentalist form of the Christian faith and recruit their peers to the club.
‘Come now,’ you say, ‘They’re just teaching a Bible story. Nothing wrong with that. It’s not like they’re teaching Numbers 31, the slaughter of the Midianites for the same reason, where God told Moses to let the men “keep as wives” (that is, rape) all the virgin girls. This is a horrible story, sure, but they’re not teaching children that God wants all nonbelievers slaughtered!’
Sure about that, are you?
In the most recent version of the curriculum, however, the group is quite eager to drive the message home to its elementary school students. The first thing the curriculum makes clear is that if God gives instructions to kill a group of people, you must kill every last one:
You are to go and completely destroy the Amalekites (AM-uh-leck-ites) – people, animals, every living thing. Nothing shall be left.
“That was pretty clear, wasn’t it?” the manual tells the teachers to say to the kids.
Even more important, the Good News Club wants the children to know, the Amalakites were targeted for destruction on account of their religion, or lack of it. The instruction manual reads:
The Amalekites had heard about Israel’s true and living God many years before, but they refused to believe in him. The Amalekites refused to believe in God and God had promised punishment.
What lesson is this teaching children? Two things, actually.
First, complete and unquestioning obedience to authority is a virtue. Specifically, obedience to their god who, of course, can only be “heard” through religious leaders who, naturally, would only say things their god told them . . . so they must be obeyed.
Second, that anyone who doesn’t believe in their god is worthy of death, and that’s what their god wants. Lots of killing.
I seem to recall all manner of outcry from folks about a religion that says exactly this. Which one was it? I can’t quite put my finger on it . . .
Muhammad said, “If anyone changes his religion, kill him,” and the death penalty for apostasy is still part of Islamic law. Those who choose to leave Islam have to live with a death sentence over the heads for the rest of their lives — even if they live in the U.S. But Muslim “civil rights” organizations whine about “Islamophobia” and never say a word about the human rights of apostates from Islam. -Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch.org
If I may paraphrase Robert Spencer, plenty of folks are calling out the atrocities of Islam; why aren’t those same people shrieking about Christianity’s pro-genocide bent?
And slaughter of those they don’t like is becoming increasingly popular a message among the Christian right.
A couple of weeks ago, North Carolina Baptist pastor Charles Worley told his congregation that all gays and lesbians should be rounded up and kept behind an electrified fence until they die out . . . yes, he advocated for concentration camps.
His congregation was not horrified. In fact, they were supportive.
Just days later, another Baptist pastor shared his thoughts on the idea. Curtis Knapp of New Hope Baptist in Seneca, Kansas, instead promoted government execution of all homosexuals:
They should be put to death … Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should.
You say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe you, you’re horrible. You’re a backwards neanderthal of a person’. Is that what you’re calling scripture? Is God a neanderthal, backwards in his morality? Is it His word or not? If it’s His word, he commanded it. It’s His idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it.
He said put them to death. Shall the church drag them in? No, I’m not say that. The church has not been given the power of the sort; the government has. But the government ought to [kill them]. You got a better idea? A better idea than God?
Meanwhile, in a more typical stance of the Christian Right, Truth in Action Ministries is blaming all of America’s ills on the IRS and homosexuality, and demanding that homosexuality be made illegal. Faux historian David Barton, who shaped Texan’s social studies textbooks with his warped “christian nation” nonsense, is in agreement.
This is what the Christian Right wants: The removal of anyone who doesn’t obey their leaders. And they’re after your children.
Are they in your child’s school?
Katherine Stewart has written a book about the Good News Club, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. She also has a website which features stories about the Religious Right in America.