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Evangelism in US Public Schools


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#1 Doopliss

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 05:41 PM

http://www.guardian....-teach-genocide

Pretty self explanatory.

Edited by Doopliss, 02 June 2012 - 07:33 PM.


#2 Twinrova

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 06:35 PM

I don't really want to click on anything that starts with apps.facebook. Can you give a brief run-down of what it says, or better yet, just copy-paste the article here?

#3 SOAP

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 06:40 PM

Did you have to link to an article that requires a facebook app? It's only a minor nuisance but still.

Anyways, sounds pretty disturbing. Now I remember why I turned away from religion when I was younger. Hatemongering is hatemongering is hatemongering. They're definately indoctrinating kids into thinking genocide is ok. Why do we continue to support such filth?

Edit: I'm quoting the article for everyone else.

How Christian fundamentalists plan to teach genocide to schoolchildren | Katherine Stewart

The story of Saul and the Amalekites has been used to justify genocide throughout the ages. Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian
Read by 7,065 people

Wednesday 30 May 2012
Good News Clubs' evangelism in schools is already subverting church-state separation. Now they justify murdering nonbelievers

The Bible has thousands of passages that may serve as the basis for instruction and inspiration. Not all of them are appropriate in all circumstances.
The story of Saul and the Amalekites is a case in point. 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 (HarperCollins).
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.
There are now over 3,200 clubs in public elementary schools, up more than sevenfold since the 2001 supreme court decision, Good News Club v Milford Central School, effectively required schools to include such clubs in their after-school programing.
The CEF has been teaching the story of the Amalekites at least since 1973. In its earlier curriculum materials, CEF was euphemistic about the bloodshed, saying simply that "the Amalekites were completely defeated." 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."


The instruction manual goes on to champion obedience in all things. In fact, pretty much every lesson that the Good News Club gives involves reminding children that they must, at all costs, obey. If God tells you to kill nonbelievers, he really wants you to kill them all. No questions asked, no exceptions allowed.
Asking if Saul would "pass the test" of obedience, the text points to Saul's failure to annihilate every last Amalekite, posing the rhetorical question:


"If you are asked to do something, how much of it do you need to do before you can say, 'I did it!'?"


"If only Saul had been willing to seek God for strength to obey!" the lesson concludes.
A review question in the textbook seeks to drive the point home further:


"How did King Saul only partly obey God when he attacked the Amalekites? (He did not completely destroy as God had commanded, he kept the king and some of the animals alive.)"


The CEF and the legal advocacy groups that have been responsible for its tremendous success over the past ten years are determined to "Knock down all doors, all the barriers, to all 65,000 public elementary schools in America and take the Gospel to this open mission field now! Not later, now!" in the words of a keynote speaker at the CEF's national convention in 2010. The CEF wants to operate in the public schools, rather than in churches, because they know that young children associate the public schools with authority and are unable to distinguish between activities that take place in a school and those that are sponsored by the school.
In the majority opinion that opened the door to Good News Clubs, supreme court Justice Clarence Thomas reasoned that the activities of the CEF were not really religious, after all. He said that they could be characterized, for legal purposes, "as the teaching of morals and character development from a particular viewpoint".
As Justices Souter and Stevens pointed out in their dissents, however, the claim is preposterous: the CEF plainly aims to teach religious doctrines and conduct services of worship. Thomas's claim is particularly ironic in view of the fact that the CEF makes quite clear its intent to teach that no amount of moral or ethical behavior (pdf) can spare a nonbeliever from an eternity in hell.
Good News Clubs should not be in America's public elementary schools. As I explain in my book, The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children, the club exists mainly to give small children the false impression that their public school supports a particular creed. The clubs' presence has produced a paradoxical entanglement of church and state that has ripped apart communities, degraded public education, and undermined religious freedom.
The CEF's new emphasis on the genocide of nonbelievers makes a bad situation worse. Exterminist rhetoric has been on the rise among some segments of the far right, including some religious groups. At what point do we start taking talk of genocide seriously? How would we feel about a nonreligious group that instructs its students that if they should ever receive an order to commit genocide, they should fulfill it to the letter?
And finally, when does a religious group qualify as a "hate group"?


Edit EDit:Oh and here's a link to the article on the actual Guardian website that doesn't require a facebook app.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/30/christian-fundamentalists-plan-teach-genocide

Edited by SOAP, 02 June 2012 - 06:45 PM.


#4 Doopliss

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 07:32 PM

Sorry for that guys. I'll just edit the original post to put the direct link.

#5 Emiko

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 07:34 PM

Did any one else raff to the patty about teaching genocide to children and lose interest?

#6 J-Roc

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 07:47 PM

I like the question of "When does a religious group become a hate group?" Great question, one more worthy of the debate then wheter or not we all agree indoctrination in the school system works because time and time again we've had threads where we all just agreed with eachother.

#7 Egann

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Posted 02 June 2012 - 09:36 PM

I'll be honest. The Guardian is one or two notches away from Crooks and Liars; they usually won't outright lie, but they will omit things they don't appreciate and not properly fact-check shaky claims that they happen to like. A lot of people have noticed this in quite a few places (it's all over television news networks) and think it's some sort of conspiracy.

Fact of the matter is it's all marketing. With the advent of satellite TV and internet there are thousands of possible news outlets, and one of the ways these places vie for viewership is to blur the line between facts and telling the audience what they want to hear.

What am I getting at? Well, I spent the better part of half an hour doing fact-checking on this matter. It's true that the Good News club has made some interesting choices, such as having a "public downloads" folder in their resources section (http://www.cefonline...ptI4a9y-KfNTYW3). The implication is, obviously, there's some sensitive information in the curriculum which isn't publicly available. Furthermore, when I actually pressed into the curriculum they did have the Amalekites were nowhere to be found. Interesting.

I mention this because I found it very suspicious that the Guardian article, which is link heavy and even provides court case summaries only provides quotes of the Good News Club's curriculum...and a broken link to a PDF (the link refers to an address ON the Guardian's server and isn't available. VERY unprofessional.) Essentially, the article pretends to provide enough information to make a fair judgement against the GNC, but if you actually give the article a hard look there's no real evidence behind it. The quotes are not referenced and the context provided is too small, anyway. It's just sensationalism to lead up to the punch-line.

. At what point do we start taking talk of genocide seriously? How would we feel about a nonreligious group that instructs its students that if they should ever receive an order to commit genocide, they should fulfill it to the letter?

And finally, when does a religious group qualify as a "hate group"?


Translation: "The GNC had this one test, but the content is so unforgivable and extreme that we the readers have no choice but to condemn them as a hate-cult."

That's about like saying roast beef is bitter because they are brined with bay leaves and juniper berries, and bay leaves and juniper berries are bitter.

I don't post in contro too often because this is the kind of web reference I THROW OUT, even if I like what it says. It just doesn't pan out to be solid.

Edited by Egann, 02 June 2012 - 09:37 PM.


#8 arunma

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 01:26 AM

Actually Egann I do see your point. Most evangelicals I know tacitly believe in the absolute authority of the Bible, but find clever ways to gloss over the genocides of Deuteronomy, Joshua, 1-2 Samuel, etc. In other words, no one actually condones genocide. While not impossible, I find it difficult to believe that even an evangelical group would extol the virtues of genocide.

Even if it's true, we have to keep in mind that religious groups are allowed to rent public schools for whatever purposes they see fit, even if they specifically choose schools because children associate them with moral authority. The solution isn't to ban these groups. It's to give equal rental space/time to groups from other religions, so they can teach competing values. That's the idea behind America, right? Everyone gets a say, and people can choose for themselves. What this amounts to is effectively a complaint that Christianity is numerically the largest religion in the country. That's not something you can change with legislative action. Instead of trying to ban free speech for Christians, the best idea for dissenters is to use your equal right to free speech and express a competing message.

#9 Reflectionist

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 11:32 AM

Did any one else raff to the patty about teaching genocide to children and lose interest?


Actually, yes. I did exactly this. No sarcasm at all. As soon as my eyes passed over the word genocide, I was like.... LOL. I'm out.

EDIT - Not like, "Lol, genocide! That's hitlarious!" But more like, "The people that wrote this sound like they might only be a tiny bit smarter than the people they're writing about."

#10 Doopliss

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Posted 03 June 2012 - 02:37 PM

Translation: "The GNC had this one test, but the content is so unforgivable and extreme that we the readers have no choice but to condemn them as a hate-cult."

That's about like saying roast beef is bitter because they are brined with bay leaves and juniper berries, and bay leaves and juniper berries are bitter.

I don't post in contro too often because this is the kind of web reference I THROW OUT, even if I like what it says. It just doesn't pan out to be solid.


Well, I think it is fair to trust the article when it says that the story of the Amalekites is in the curriculum and that the purpose, as stated in the instructor's manual, is to teach children that one must obey God's commands no matter what. I really doubt they would dare lie about what actually is written in the official curriculum. On the other hand, I agree with you that the article is generalizing when it implies that CEF could be considered a hate group. But I think the point remains. They are telling children it is fine to commit genocide if god commands you to do so, and they are doing in a public school. I am not sure these are the values one wants to be promoted in a public school in a democracy, even if they are not endorsed explicitly by the school.

Even if it's true, we have to keep in mind that religious groups are allowed to rent public schools for whatever purposes they see fit, even if they specifically choose schools because children associate them with moral authority. The solution isn't to ban these groups. It's to give equal rental space/time to groups from other religions, so they can teach competing values. That's the idea behind America, right? Everyone gets a say, and people can choose for themselves. What this amounts to is effectively a complaint that Christianity is numerically the largest religion in the country. That's not something you can change with legislative action. Instead of trying to ban free speech for Christians, the best idea for dissenters is to use your equal right to free speech and express a competing message.

But there are further issues here. Yes, every religion should be able to have their say. But are children really mature enough to be exposed to different religions and make a rational, informed choice? Why should the state provide the places for religious groups to preach their message, isn't the state supposed to be neutral? And by neutral I don't mean, support all religions equally, but rather, act as if religion didn't exist?

Oh, and meanwhile, in South Carolina... http://www.guardian....int-enders-game

Edited by Doopliss, 03 June 2012 - 02:45 PM.


#11 Showsni

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 06:55 PM

That's not evangelism; evangelism means spreading the gospel, not the Old Testament. /nitpicking

Or maybe it's not nitpicking... Christianity is about Christ, after all, not about following Levitical Law.

As to the idea of teaching children religion in schools at all - this is actually from an after school Bible club, yes? That are just hiring out the school buildings? Didn't we already have this discussion? It's not the state's responsibility what their hired out buildings are used for in general (provided it's legal). I'd say that if the school wants to hire out their buildings, they should be allowed to. If the Club are trying to claim they're sponsored by the school in some way, though, that should be stopped. Children aren't stupid, though, they can probably realise this isn't a school activity...


#12 J-Roc

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 05:00 AM

[acronym=Unless it was their teachers running it, I guess.]That's not evangelism; evangelism means spreading the gospel, not the Old Testament. /nitpicking

Or maybe it's not nitpicking... Christianity is about Christ, after all, not about following Levitical Law.


You are missing the part where they believe wholly in the whacky Revelations ending which is the scary part. Watch some of these late night pastors make incredible stretches trying to equate North Korea Iraq Pakistan and Iran to the four horsemen of the apocalypse and you will believe these people to be the quacks they are.

#13 Egann

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 03:50 PM

Or maybe it's not nitpicking... Christianity is about Christ, after all, not about following Levitical Law.


Well, the relationship of Christ to the Old Testament is...rather contested. It certainly differs from denomination to denomination. Most don't explicitly disregard the Old Testament so much as neglect to teach it.

...Which makes no sense. It's not like there's a law against reading the Old Testament if you're not Christian, and stuff like the Amalekites? If you don't teach people about this stuff, the first time they'll hear about it will be from people like Dawkins who hate religion and legitimately know the material. You do people no favors by *not* teaching them this stuff.

My interpretation of the Amalekites is that it was a practical command. Four thousand years ago the world was a poor and brutal place where death was cheap. Religions which espouse "love thy neighbor as thyself" presuppose an economic system which leaves room for two at the table, and that wasn't really possible until Rome put roads all over the place and opened Europe up to trade.

I can go on at some length about the logic of the situation, but it all boils down to this; by today's morality, wars of extermination are horrible. By that day's morality...I don't see much in the way of choice. The Amalekites had attacked Israel before, and leaving survivors would allow them to return and attack again.

Well, I think it is fair to trust the article when it says that the story of the Amalekites is in the curriculum and that the purpose, as stated in the instructor's manual, is to teach children that one must obey God's commands no matter what. I really doubt they would dare lie about what actually is written in the official curriculum. On the other hand, I agree with you that the article is generalizing when it implies that CEF could be considered a hate group. But I think the point remains. They are telling children it is fine to commit genocide if god commands you to do so, and they are doing in a public school. I am not sure these are the values one wants to be promoted in a public school in a democracy, even if they are not endorsed explicitly by the school.



Bear in mind that the author is a book about this. (http://thegoodnewsclub.com/) Also look at the other links to things she's written about. The Far Right's War on History, School Vouchers... she's a far left alarmist author. I'm reasonably confident she wouldn't risk an outright lie, but such authors feel quite free to omit information to paint a picture which isn't "accurate to fact" so much as "accurate to what the author wants to be the case."

I am much more apprehensive about passing judgement when I know someone's trying to lead me to a particular conclusion. I don't know what I'm not seeing.