Magazine article Church & State

The Good News Decision: Opening the School Door to Aggressive Evangelism

Magazine article Church & State

The Good News Decision: Opening the School Door to Aggressive Evangelism

Article excerpt

The Supreme Court's recent decision saying that a New York public school must allow a private religious group to use its building immediately after classes end is disappointing and unfortunate.

"Good News Clubs" are sponsored by the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), a national organization that seeks to convert children as young as 5 to fundamentalist Christianity. The clubs divide children into camps of the "saved" and "unsaved," and frequently using candy as a bribe, pressure the "unsaved" to make a faith profession.

CEF is so intent on converting children that it has even produced a "wordless book" -- a tome whose colored pages represent different aspects of fundamentalist doctrine. It is designed to evangelize children who have not yet learned to read.

All of this might be permissible if it were taking place in the evening or on a Sunday afternoon, but Good News Clubs specifically seek to use public schools literally minutes after the final bell rings, knowing they will attract more students that way. That crucial fact makes this case less about equal access to public facilities and more about proselytism at public schools.

Public schools should not be required to assist missionary-minded groups with their conversion efforts. In America's pluralistic society, parents expect that public schools will be scrupulously neutral on religious matters. It will be more difficult for schools to meet that goal in light of the Good News decision. …

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