For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
July 06, 2015
The Indiana branch of the Center for Inquiry is warning Indianapolis parents that a Christian fundamentalist organization will be targeting area schoolchildren this month in an organized proselytizing campaign. “The Good News Club” will coordinate with local churches with a plan to approach children in public spaces in attempts to indoctrinate them into fundamentalist Christianity, enticing them through activities, candy, and games, and then frightening them with warnings of judgment and hellfire.
CFI-Indiana and its allies are trying to educate and warn parents, especially the parents of young children, as to the intentions of this group so that they can protect their children from becoming involved, and to prepare them for possible encounters with club members. With a broad, sectarian agenda that includes teaching creationism in public schools, opposing LGBT equality, blocking scientific sex education, and rewriting history textbooks to suit their worldview, Good News Clubs encourage “peer to peer” evangelism, awarding prizes to children who bring other children to the club.
“We’re very concerned about what these groups are up to, preying on children in the very places they should feel safe from folks with a radical religious agenda. So we want parents to be prepared,” said Reba Boyd Wooden, executive director of CFI-Indiana. “When a child comes home and tells their mom or dad that a friend invited them to this club, and that they would go to hell if they didn’t, that parent will be able to talk with their child about it, and tell them that they don’t need to be scared.”
Each year the Good News Club selects a city to target for its operations, this year choosing Indianapolis between the dates of July 13-25. The club recruits local churches to train volunteers, help with the ministry, and try to start Bible clubs in neighborhood public elementary schools. They will often set up in public parks or other public places that kids frequent, and lure unsuspecting children — without their parent’s permission or knowledge — with food, games, and crafts, and then preach their message to them. They will sometimes organize “family fun days” offering free food and activities to attract entire families.
“They want to preach to children in the age 4-14 age bracket because they think that the vast majority of conversion experiences occur in people in that age group,” said Wooden, “They believe that if they get them young, they have a better chance of keeping them for life. But we don’t have to let it be so easy for them. Let’s be prepared.”
On September 20th, CFI-Indiana will host a presentation by Katherine Stewart, author of the book The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, and an expert on their movement.
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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.