17 July 2013

Book Review Good News Club

"The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children,"

         The was one of the most disturbing books I have read in a while, such as I had to put it down and leave it for a days before I would come back to it.

I still find it hard to believe in the 21st Century that we still have missionaries, occasionally most people will get the Jehovah's Witness to their door, occasionally seeing the Mormons coming round with their nice white shirts and little name badges.

 But missionaries? Really?

In Katherine Stewarts book "The Good News Club" she shows exactly how the modern day missionaries have evolved, and are now targeting our children, she also reveals how much money is involved in this endeavour (LOTS!), and it's very very disturbing.

This is the story of how schools in the USA are slowly being used by Christian evangelical groups for after-school services for the express purpose in gaining child converts.  The book details how the Alliance Defence Fund, the Liberty Council, the American Centre for Law and Justice, and other conservative groups have masterminded an assault on public education, these groups have  combined budgets totalling over $US100 million per year. Add the free labour, and items donated by volunteers this produces a Christian outreach powerhouse.

Many of the people who run theses Clubs represent a very conservative, very fundamentalist, very evangelical type of Christianity. Many of these would even be called Christian Nationalists (or Dominionists if you prefer), for those who don't know the meaning of this term, it's taken from the Biblical phrase "God has given you dominion over all things" so they think Christians should be in charge of everything and everyone. But of course it has to be the "right" sort of Christian.

How did this start?

The first chapters of the GNC Katherine discovers the GNC starting up in her childrens school, and their attempts to infiltrate the school itself so to maintain a deception that it's is part of the school curriculum.

The battle to allow or not allow churches to use Public school rooms after hours has been a long one.

In the following chapters Katherine goes  to some of the Child Evangelical Fellowship ( CEF )
meetings and just how they are pushing religion in schools via lawsuits. In general it's now been reduced to a free speech issue. Those who wrote the US Constitution deliberately made religion a special case.

Chapter 3 has some surprising history of religion and how the public school systems was started , followed in the next chapter by the legal maneuverings that allowed the GNC access to schools

Chapter 6 goes into the reasons why Christian Fundamentalists are now targeting children.

I was much surprised to find out that there are actually missionary expos.

Chapter 8 Examines the failed Abstinence programs, and the history of Sex-Ed or (Lack of).

Chapter 10 is very familiar if you recall the current Australian problems with Chaplains, and with Access Ministries

"In Australia we have a God-given open door to children and young people with the Gospel, our federal and state governments allow us to take the Christian faith into our schools and share it. We need to go and make disciples."

Chaplains are not allowed to evangelize in school hours, so will keep in contact via Facebook, and will offer weekend trips away to camps.
Back to Chapter 10.."Child transmitted communicable religion"..my title for the chapter :-)
Using children to spread religion in the playground, on the sports field. Social ostracism is quite the effective weapon on children.

Chapter 12 examines how the Christian Right at one stage tried to load the P&C with Christian activists then some decided to remove their children from the school system. (Homeschooling has shot up in the last decade), then the strategy seems to be to undermine the school systems and to make it a source of conflict.

To summarize:  Evangelical groups are setting out to destroy public education in the USA. Tax exempt rich evangelicals have launched an all out assault on the minds and lives of children, "to reclaim the nation for God".

In a time where resources and investment in American schools are declining,  and the USA starts slipping down its position in the league tables of education this is a truly dire event.
China is ruled by engineers and producing more and more scientists. Now is the time that western countries who want to keep up can't let their education system slip into turmoil, or spend time on imaginary beings.

 American lawmakers in many states have been attacking evolution and woman rights (such as last week in Texas) which is about as sensible as attacking gravity. I can't ever see these Christian nationalists winning, but theirs is a trail of tornado style destruction, these people who are almost always American Republications are trying to move back into a past that never was, and in doing so, are helping the USA to eventually be bypassed by those countries that are looking to the future.

Here is Katherine Stewart, Richard Dawkins, Eric Cernyer and Sean Faircloth at
Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado. February 27, 2013 talking about the Good News Clubs. it's quite long at over 90 minutes, but it's worth listening to the audio, even if you don't watch the video.

One thing I learned from watching the video was finding out that the first good news club was established in 1926.

Eric Cernyar is also in the video, he's a former evangelical Christian who has put together a School facility use policy that may be useful if your local school is targeted by any religious group, not just the GNC.

Part of it states:-

 Good Behaviour Requirement. No person, group or organisation shall be permitted to use a district facility if they:
a) engage in physical, emotional, or psychological mistreatment of children;
b) attempt to make children feel excluded, ashamed or unacceptable because of the student’s lack of shared racial, ethnic, or national origin, sexual orientation, or religious identity or commitment;
c) discourage children from critical and open thinking by employing shame, conditional affirmation, or fear of natural or supernatural reprisal; or
d) stigmatise children on the basis of race, colour, religion, creed, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, physical handicap or national origin. 

Take note of lawmakers trying to implement a school voucher system, this way public money can be diverted to the religious schools.

This post has taken me a while to write, as I have to go back to the book for references and then I am so sickened by the GNC, I have to put it down again.

You can buy the book here:
Amazon UK
Kobo books

You also might also be interested in Katherines articles for The Guardian

Home page for Katherines book The Good News Club

Home page for Eric Cernyer for how to fight the GNC

For more on US Christian Nationalism Michelle Goldberg has an important book on the subject.

A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor about the GNC.

Some real good news is that some people are taking notice:-


**Edited to improve readability, Thanks Stan** 

"I do not believe any type of religion should ever be introduced into the public schools of the United States." - Thomas Alva Edison

14 July 2013

"The Freethinkers’ Pictorial Textbook"

                                            The Freethinkers’ Pictorial Textbook by Watson Heston


 I have seen this comic many times, and have often wondered where it came from, and if there has been many more like it, or it was a one-off from the artist. I had always thought it was from a British newspaper in Victorian times.

It's probably old news to many people, but it came from "The Freethinkers’ Pictorial Textbook" by Watson Heston (d.1905) who lived in the USA state of Missouri for most of his life. so not your typical resident of the time.

I have a few books on how to draw good comics that tell a story, and even though this style is considered old and "busy" it's still gets the messages across.

"The Freethinkers’ Pictorial Textbook  book is available as a PDF from http://bankofwisdom.com
in two volumes, along with his other books The Old Testament Comically Illustrated (1890), and The New Testament Comically Illustrated (1898).

“To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.” ― Isaac Asimov