This is not something I normally blog about, but it’s a hot button for me, and I found this video so disturbing I could not remain silent. This was the first I’d heard of this group, so surely there are other people still unaware of them and their doings, despite their worldwide reach. They have chapters in all 50 states, and 176 countries.
For those who don’t want to watch the video, here’s the opening statement:
In 2001, the United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the Child Evangelism Fellowship organization had the freedom of speech right to set up evangelical clubs in public elementary schools. Twelve years later, a few of us decided to learn more about these clubs, and how they operate.
That’s right, elementary schools. Not junior highs, or high schools. I could not tear myself away, I watched every second, three times now. It’s a good look inside one of their “Childrens’ Good News Spectaculars” at the state fairgrounds in North Carolina. The documentary crew showed a lot of integrity: there are no leading questions, the people who work these events are allowed to answer without anything being taken out of context or any prompting by the interviewer/camera crew. Everyone is respectful, they have kind words for the followers at the end, believing them to be sincere, kind people, ‘gentle spirits’, as Katherine Stewart calls them. At no time do they argue with the people they interview, or try to change their minds. They simply allow them to express their views, and talk about what this group does. There are more than 3500 of these clubs in public schools, as of 2012.
The level of willful ignorance by its members is staggering, though. One girl expresses disbelief in the theory of evolution even though she was home-schooled and never actually exposed to it. None of them seem to have any real grasp of it. At least Mr. Bob is right that evolution is a theory. That’s why it’s called the “Theory of Evolution.”
If, as the one gentleman says, it’s about ‘freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion”, then everyone, EVERYONE, gets an equal shot at doing this with whatever religion they follow: Rastafarians, Pastafarians, Muslims, Hindus, Wiccans, Asatruars, Druids, Ordo Templi Orientis, Mormons, Jews, Voudon, Santeria, Candomble, Umbanda, Zoroastrians, Baha’i, Buddhists, Mithraists, Satanists. And yes, even Atheists and Communists. No offense to any religion or group I have inadvertently neglected to mention.
Most of the time I’m an atheist. In those moments when I’m feeling a belief in some greater force, I can best be described as an agnostic pagan. Pagans DO NOT PROSELYTIZE. Ever. A basic tenet is that we respect everyone’s right to raise their children as they see fit. No respectable Wiccan coven (I acknowledge the existence of people willing to take advantage of teens and adults under the guise of religion, I’m not saying those types don’t exist) will take a minor on for training without express WRITTEN permission from the parents, after they have met and spoken with the parents. We’re not interested in swelling the ranks. We firmly believe (ok, let me qualify the ‘we’: every pagan I’ve ever met or spoken with on the subject, and that’s a fair few of many different traditions) that if someone is meant to be on a pagan path, they will find their own way to it. In fact it’s preferable. It’s not for everyone. It’s hard work.
The fact that they target such young, impressionable children is, to me, despicable. Can you imagine the outcry, the furor, the indignation if any group other than this tried to come into school and teach their ways? Can you imagine a Wiccan coming in to teach the fundamentals of the Craft? I can already hear their charges of “Satanic Harry Potter-like demonic attacks on our children.” (Note: Harry Potter has nothing to do with demons or Satan, and if you think it does please see your doctor to adjust your medications.) There would be lawsuit after lawsuit. State dollars used to teach witchcraft? Know that whatever brand of Christianity you follow, if it’s not their particular flavor, you too will be painted with the same ‘demonic’ brush. We don’t even have to use the Craft as an example. Imagine it was a Muslim group. Or a Catholic group. The result would be the same. The whole approach of their ‘Spectacular’ to lure children in with the carnival atmosphere is so conniving it reminds me of the Pleasure Island scene in Disney’s 1940 “Pinocchio”, to lure boys away. This group specifically targets very young children, starting from the age of four. Children at that age have no reasoning skills, they simply believe what they’re told. This should be disallowed on the basis of interfering with parental rights.
They have no right to indoctrinate other people’s children with their particular belief set. And it is indoctrination, brain-washing, or as Ms. Stewart says, “religious bludgeoning.” If this is what they want to teach their own children, I would not try to stop them. But to come into public schools and try to steal other people’s children and contradict what the child’s own parents have told them is beyond the pale.
I think Rev. Barry Lynn nails it around the 32:19 mark when he said these people are absolutely interested in a theocracy that would back up their own particular version of Christianity, making everyone who is not Christian a second-class citizen. So they’re trying to indoctrinate the masses while there’s still time to sway them with no fight. Shameful.