Child Evangelism Fellowship: The Christian Group Recruiting Kids in Public Schools
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- Establish policies prohibiting participation by teachers, volunteers and staff in the CEF activity at the same school where they work.
- Educate school staff and volunteers about policies that prevent them, when on the job, from speaking or acting in a manner that can be easily perceived as promoting or endorsing religious instruction or practice.
- Prohibit CEF from using school and PTA communication vehicles to promote its activity, or from sponsoring school activities.
- Enforce student anti-harassment policies that protect students from aggressive proselytizing.
- Assure that CEF, as a religious organization, will pay for the use of the space it occupies and that Good News Club meetings occur well after the end of the school day.
- Obtain a written commitment that interested parents will have access to the CEF curriculum for inspection and that their meetings will be open to all students and parents.
What can concerned citizens do about this?
- Reach out to your local chapter of American United to find out about CEF activity in your community’s elementary schools.
- Open up conversations in your community about religious recruiting of children.
- Support and volunteer for non-sectarian afterschool activities for children in your community.
- Throw your weight behind Americans United or the ACLU or another church-state watchdog and support them in whatever way you can.
Like John Lederer, journalist Katherine Stewart got involved in this issue when CEF launched a Good News Club at her children’s school. After two years of research, Stewart doesn’t mince words:
Good News Clubs have as their aim the destruction of public education as we know it, and public school officials, as well as parents, should be concerned. They say their goal is "Bible Study" from a "nondenominational standpoint." In fact, their aim is to "knock down all the doors, all the barriers, to all 65,000 public schools in America and take the gospel to this open mission field now! Not later, now!" in the words of one of their leaders. Most activists I met with the CEF believe that most Americans who call themselves Christians aren't really Christians, or aren't the "right kind" of Christians. That includes United Methodists, U.S. Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, liberal Congregationalists...this list goes on. Keynote speakers at their national conventions promote creationism, rail against the so-called "homosexual agenda," and think that public education is evil because "they removed Christ as the foundation."
As they teach kids as young as six or seven about original sin and blood atonement and divinely sanctioned genocide, CEF staff and volunteers believe they are on a mission from God. They are well-financed and have a seasoned team of legal advocates at their disposal. Any community that doesn’t stand up for its children can expect to have fundamentalist recruiters in its public grade schools.
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons . She is the author of "Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light" and "Deas and Other Imaginings." Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.