If you turn the pages in the latest edition of the Portland (Oregon) alt-weekly Willamette Week, you’ll come across this full page ad:
A national religious group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is targeting Portland this summer with an aggressive recruiting campaign. They are bringing in over 100 missionaries from July 14-26 to “harvest” children as young as 4 years old. Their plan is to work with local churches to start after-school “Good News Clubs” in our public elementary schools this fall.
Extreme doctrines harm young children
Good News Clubs are not about mainstream bible study or the Golden Rule. They are hardcore fundamentalist indoctrination. They terrorize children too young to understand with vivid warnings of eternal punishment. They teach children that they are born wicked and “deserve to die” instead of building self-esteem. They teach children submission to authority instead of critical thinking. These toxic, fear-based doctrines can cause traumas in children that last into adulthood.
Protect Portland’s children
Do you believe that the Child Evangelism Fellowship is entitled to use our public schools to indoctrinate young children with harmful ideas about who they are, and hate- ful ideas about who nonbelievers are? If not, take action. Talk to your friends. If you’re a parent, talk to other parents and administra- tors in your school. Contact Protect Portland Children for more information.
The ad was published by a group called Protect Portland Children which hopes to inform parents about how these Christians plan to indoctrinate local children who are barely old enough to think for themselves.
“We think if people have enough information, they’ll choose not to do it,” said Robert Aughenbaugh, a co-founder of Protect Portland Children…
“We believe that these doctrines are harmful to 5-year-old children,” Aughenbaugh said. “They teach fear. They teach shame.”
They won’t be able to stop the clubs from meeting at local schools, but members of Protect Portland Children hope that parents will at least be able to make an educated decision about whether to allow their children to attend the meetings. The Good News Clubs thrive on uninformed parents who just hear “Good News” and “Bible” and assume everything will be just fine. They have no idea the club’s M.O. is to use fear and manipulation to gain religious converts who are too young to know any better. (Katherine Stewart wrote the definitive book on the group: The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children.)
On a personal note, it’s great to see an organized pushback against these clubs. It would be even better to see similar groups popping up in other cities before CEF arrives. Remember: This isn’t about censorship. It’s about informing parents about what they’re actually signing their kids up for. If they really knew about the tactics used by the CEF, no rational parents — including many Christian ones — would allow their kids to be subject to this sort of emotional abuse.