Friday, 07 January 2011
I'm doing research into how high school groups work (since that's now my job and everything), and I've come across a type of club called the Good News Club. Their goal is to proselytize to children on public school campuses, trying to blend in with the school. They even have special books without words for evangelizing to children who are too young to read.
For any religious people who say that faith can survive on reason alone and doesn't need insidious tactics, what can you say about this? The CEF, the group running these clubs, cites that most Christians came to belief between the ages of 4-14. This is a time in cognitive development when kids are hard-wired to trust authority figures and when their capacity for doubt is not yet fully developed. Is it a mystery why religious groups prey upon target children?
The problem is that these groups can't be stopped legally. The Equal Access Act dictates, rightly in my opinion, that religious clubs must be allowed the same group status as any other student-led group in public schools. The issue is that groups like the Good News Club bend the rules. They know they're legally not allowed to proselytize on school ground, so they register these groups as bible studies before abandoning the 'study' aspect and going after their stated goal of indoctrinating children. In his dissenting opinion in Good News Club vs. Milford Central High School, Justice Souter pointed out how obvious this deception was.
It is beyond question that Good News intends to use the public school premises not for the mere discussion of a subject from a particular, Christian point of view, but for an evangelical service of worship calling children to commit themselves in an act of Christian conversion. The majority avoids this reality only by resorting to the bland and general characterization of Good News's activity as 'teaching of morals and character, from a religious standpoint'. If the majority's statement ignores reality, as it surely does, then today's holding may be understood only in equally generic terms. Otherwise, indeed, this case would stand for the remarkable proposition that any public school opened for civic meetings must be opened for use as a church, synagogue, or mosque.
So as long as they're willing to keep lying about their purpose (which they clearly are) and as long as the Supreme Court is willing to indulge them in their dishonesty (which, in this configuration, they clearly are) there's really not much to be done. So far my ideas are to attend their meetings as a nontheistic parent or to institute some kind of program that augments awareness of these kind of practices. You can bet I'll be popping by a meeting or two here in Columbus.
Good News Clubs embody the tactics as well as the morality of evangelism: give candy to people who don't understand science, philosophy, and other disciplines that inform a rationalized world view and hope they convert. Or threaten people with hell/punishment. Get them at an age when they still believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy, because once they're old enough to appreciate reality the stories of talking snakes and a person rising from the dead are done for. Is there a more perfect victim for them than children, especially when they're pretending to be affiliated with the schools these children trust? Tell me again how we need religion to be moral.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: these people just, fucking, lie. They lie, they cheat, they do anything but play fair. And people wonder why I'm so interested in opposing them.