This past Saturday, local freethinkers from the Forsyth Area Critical Thinkers (FACT) organized a protest of the Good News Club at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem. The Good News Club is a fundamentalist evangelical Christian group that's active around the country. From their website, their proclaimed goal is "to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and establish (disciple) them in the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living." Their target age group is 5-12 and they mainly evangelize in public schools to get kids to convert their "unchurched" friends and family members.
Another way they proselytize is by holding carnival-like events with a catch. In order to play the best games and ride the best rides, the children are told they're evil, Hell-bound sinners (among other deprecating things). A quote straight from their materials reads, "The heart, the real you, is sinful from the time you were born. Even the good things you do aren't good enough. The bible says those things are like filthy, dirty rags. Filthy rags either need to be thrown away or washed" (from Lesson 2, page 17). What kind of crazy "morality" is this and why is it necessary to scare kids with it? If this is Good News Club's idea of spreading "good" news, I'd hate to know what the bad news is.
Some of our members showed up to the protest to voice their opposition to the Good News Club. Bobby Littlejohn and Ryan Campbell were two attendees.
"I found it fun. I enjoyed the protest. Didn't really seem to me that we affected anyone but many people did look at us, many with confused looks. I think the confusion was from the fact that most parents bringing their kids to the event did not know that it was religious," said Ryan. That's exactly the problem. Unsuspecting parents are mislead into thinking the group is harmless, with all the bounce houses, popcorn, and fun activities.
Bobby, too, enjoyed going. "The only thing I regret was that when people came up to talk the conversation would end up being about religion and how they know that God exists. Even if I was a Christian I would have been out there to protest, because I don't think it's [right] for a group to tell kids they deserve to go to hell unless they believe in your religion," he commented.
Raising awareness about the Good News Club's harmful messages to kids is an important step toward ensuring that kids are taught to love, not hate, themselves and people who don't hold a Christian worldview.