The Good News Club

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Journalist Katherine Stewart talks about the Good News Club, which is sponsored by the Child Evangelism Fellowship and bills itself as an after-school program of “Bible study.” When it came to her children’s public school she decided to investigate. Her book The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, shows that there is more religion in America’s public schools today than there has been for the past 100 years.


Katherine Stewart

Comments [52]

Good news

This club is not a club that that bashes others or what they beleive kathrien you are wrong we don't teach kids to become bullies we show them jesus and we don't put down any faith if you sign the statement of faith we do beleive there is only one way and that is through Jesus Christ as the bible say the can be no man go to the father but through me (Jesus Christ) CEF is a great ministry that is trying to show the kids a different way then the world view

Feb. 07 2012 06:37 PM
Political Pop from America

Vote And Die! =)

Jan. 26 2012 01:03 PM
Xtina from E. Village

Typical un-followable interview by Leonard Lopate. How about asking the guest to explain what the 'Good News Club' is first, and only then move onto discussing why she doesn't like it or what is wrong with it, so listeners can understand what she's talking about.

Another such example was the last interview with Thomas Frank who sounds like he has written a really interesting book, but darned if I have any idea what it's actually about.

Jan. 25 2012 07:18 PM


Thanks for playing.

Jan. 25 2012 02:16 PM


OK - seems your CO2 level is within normal limits - why waste the "huh" when you had something half-intelligent to articulate?

But now you've seemed to move on to plagiarism - wasn't that the distinction ("stuffing something down the throats of unknowing, children") that Santorum used to object to the establishment of school-based fellatio skills instruction?

Jan. 25 2012 02:10 PM

...on it, thanks!


Jan. 25 2012 02:01 PM


Check you CO2 level -
your beginning to perseverate.

Jan. 25 2012 01:59 PM

"Your guest never stated whether these "religious" organizations paid a rent for the use of public school facilities that was greater or lesser than that paid by "non-religious" organizations for a similar use of the same facilities?"

religious organizations/non-religious organizations: apples and oranges.

Religious organization - stuffing something down the throats of unknowing, children.

Non-religious organization - NOT doing that.

The latter, welcome. The former, NOT.

Apples and oranges.

Not difficult.

Jan. 25 2012 01:55 PM


Jan. 25 2012 01:50 PM
Political PoP from America


Jan. 25 2012 01:42 PM


A devastating exegesis of an understated - I should say unformed - point of view? What are you wanting to be seen as the apple? the orange? "flabby" how?
Are you saying something about the public school facility rental rates for apple vendors as compared to orange sellers? Or are you taking issue with the ease that background material links can be included?

Jan. 25 2012 01:40 PM

I noticed that there seems to be a neat tie-in with a theme that was championed on the Brian Lehrer Show earlier today, to wit: The only Jews that deserve to go to Hell are the rich, Zionist, Jews who accumulate billions of dollars through their ownership of gambling venues - which they outsource to Communist China to avoid taxes and outsource American jobs. Their unfairly acquired largess is lavished upon Zionist organizations and Conservative hacks. Their sentence to Hell is earned by their excessively lavish lifestyle and the free speech frustration felt by their opponents. :-)

Jan. 25 2012 01:29 PM


Apples and oranges.

Flabby reasoning.

Jan. 25 2012 01:17 PM

After installing "religion" in our public schools mane we can get to work on reinstating the Inquisition.

Just makes senses, no?

Jan. 25 2012 01:13 PM

Lest the audience be mislead into believing that "WESTSIDE COMMUNITY BD. OF ED. v. MERGENS, 496 U.S. 226 (1990)" was a partisan victory for the conservative members of the Supreme Court, my research indicates that it was an "eight to one" decision concurred in by Justices Marshall and Brennan.
Too bad the host or the "student-intern" producers do not supply the links available for the audience to have a basis for an informed opinion on the matter. It's as east as:

"O'CONNOR, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II-A, II-B, and II-C, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part III, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and WHITE and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed an opinion [496 U.S. 226, 230] concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which SCALIA, J., joined, post, p. 258. MARSHALL, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which BRENNAN, J., joined, post, p. 262. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 270."

BTW: Your guest never stated whether these "religious" organizations paid a rent for the use of public school facilities that was greater or lesser than that paid by "non-religious" organizations for a similar use of the same facilities?

Jan. 25 2012 01:13 PM

@Renee from NYC

Thank you for sharing your very poignant story.


I have a similar story from my childhood.

Evangelical christianity IS a CULT, by definition:

Jan. 25 2012 01:07 PM
Renee from NYC

When I was in my early twenties, in the early 1990's, I - unknowingly - got pulled into a cult, which was part of the International Churches of Christ. It was unnatural, and took over one's life and money. It was originally called "The Boston Church" as the movement began there. The Good News Club sounds very much like what the ICOC was all about, targeting specific groups of people. I, for instance, was in the NYC Performing Arts and Media branch of the church. I wouldn't be surprised if members of the ICOC are behind the Good News Clubs. I was only in it for 5 months, but it felt like 2 years, and I had to leave town to successfully extract myself from the church. (Because of the fear-based way of teaching they espoused, I felt traumatized for about 3 years afterward, for leaving.) I learned a lot about the bible, and that helped me to decide what my true beliefs really were, but there was a lot of peer pressure, (they used the term "the good kind of peer pressure" ), and a feeling that Big Brother (or Sister) is watching you. I learned, in my brief time there, that they were infiltrating college campuses. That's hard enough, for kids who are just deciding who they are as adults, but elementary school kids should only be getting this kind of teaching from their parents and the place of worship (or lack of) that they choose. Children who encourage other children to join them at their place of worship with their families is fine, but having peer pressure to evangelize their classmates, from an after school club is wrong, in my opinion.

Jan. 25 2012 12:55 PM

Mr. Flintstone:



Jan. 25 2012 12:52 PM
JoanL from Brooklyn

PS Mary, it was the person you spoke to who asserted that separation of church and state was not in the Constitution, was the person I had in mind in my parenthetical remark about zealots needing everything to be expressly spelled out. Just wanted to clarify.

Jan. 25 2012 12:50 PM

Mary, the right wing religious person with whom you had the conversation was using one of the 'talking points' that is so often used by religious extremists who seek to legislate their beliefs. It is a desperate attempt to play with semantics to prove their unprovable point.

Jan. 25 2012 12:49 PM

... everybody knows it's not the Jews that are going to hell...

It's the Zionist, instead!!

Jan. 25 2012 12:47 PM
fred flintstone from NYC

Emo Phillips dissects Radical Religions in just over 1 minute:

Jan. 25 2012 12:47 PM
Henry from Manhattan

Ed from Larchmont said:
It's probably a reaction to the unnatural situation that religion is excluded from public schools. How can you explain the Civil War, for example, without explaining the religious beliefs that were behind the actions of both the north and the south? Or Shakespeare without reference to the position of Catholics in Elizabethan England?


Yes, when evaluating history it’s important to consider the role religious or ideological views played, but that has nothing to do with promoting religious preferences in schools or our nations stated desire of separation of church and state that so enable our religious freedoms in the first place.

Dear Christians. You already can’t agree on which Christianity is the “true” one, so please understand why everyone else doesn’t want some particular version taught in public schools. Christians bicker and feud over the details of Christianity already, let’s not even mention if say versions of Judaism or Islam would be promoted in schools.

Besides, everyone knows that Mormonism is the true American Christianity. Jesus even visited the pre-United States after his resurrection. Just look it up; the Book of Mormon says so, so it’s true.

Jan. 25 2012 12:45 PM


Jan. 25 2012 12:44 PM
Sorry But

Our 5th grader got barraged by Christian propaganda this past holiday season. It was like a tsunami, no where to even begin fighting it or trying to explain the problem. Despite our deep ties -- and contributions -- to the school and community, we moved, instantly, to a more educated and respectful town. All of our time can be much better spent than fighting this one, although I feel so sorry for the families who feel the same way but are not as mobile.

Jan. 25 2012 12:44 PM
JoanL from Brooklyn

Mary L 12:34, it's based in the anti-establishment (of religion) clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. (Apparently zealots, who take things literally, must have everything spelled out specifically for it to exist for them.)

Jan. 25 2012 12:44 PM

These kinds of clubs have been doing wonderful things for years...

,,, in places like Afghanistan!!

Jan. 25 2012 12:43 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

This "kabbalah" nonsense is the latest fad being spread by people who don't know anything. The legitimacy of kabbalah has always been questioned, and some its literature is probably 14th century forgeries. And even those who are seriously religious folks who genuinely believe in this Jewish mysticism know that it may only be studied by scholars over the age of 40 who are genuinely pious, learned, and mature individuals. Not by hippies or rock n' roll celebrities. Nonetheless,there are interesting things in kabbalah, just as in sufism, zen buddhism, and other mystical traditions.

Jan. 25 2012 12:42 PM
MP from Brooklyn

On a somewhat related note, I would highly recommend the 2004 book by Susan Jacoby, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism.

Jan. 25 2012 12:42 PM

@ Ed from Larchmont. In the public schools the type of lessons you describe would be acceptable. One is allowed to teach about religion but not to teach the religion. Granted the difference is fine yet it allows for the teaching of medieval history for example where one might teach about medieval Islam or the medieval Catholic Church. Teaching about a belief or what others believe is legally different from teaching what one should believe.

Jan. 25 2012 12:41 PM

I don't understand why the government doesn't work harder to stuff more religion down more peoples' throats.

It's in the Constitution®, no??

Wait... which religion???

Well... whoever's in control's religion... right??


Jan. 25 2012 12:39 PM
MP from Brooklyn

uh, I meant segue

Jan. 25 2012 12:38 PM
MP from Brooklyn

dboy - nice segueway

Jan. 25 2012 12:37 PM
MP from Brooklyn

Mary, the words "separation of church and state" are not in the Constitution. The words are "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Which, over time, came to be interpreted (by numerous court decisions) to mean separation of church and state.

Jan. 25 2012 12:37 PM

I'd rather have a Glock® seminar at my kid's school!!

Jan. 25 2012 12:36 PM
John A.

Politicized religion is troublesome in that it lets people outside religion discard it easier. Just another word for those religious that operate without any government finances. It is not inconsistent for one to Fight to sever the link between state and church and then go to Church and pay independently.

Jan. 25 2012 12:35 PM
Mary L from Manhattan

During a recent discussion with a right wing religious person, he said that the separation of church and state is not actually in the constitution. I was completely flummoxd/shocked. I've since tried to find it and can find only implications. Please tell me exactly where it is—I'll sleep better.
Thanks much.

Jan. 25 2012 12:34 PM
MP from Brooklyn

Doesn't "All the Jews are going to hell" qualify as hate speech? Aren't there special considerations regarding hate speech?

Jan. 25 2012 12:33 PM

Get these F*n "clubs" out of OUR PUBLIC schools!!!!!!

Jan. 25 2012 12:32 PM
Bob from Flushing

Several years ago, my daughter was invited by a friend to attend her "religious club" at their middle school. Among the messages she received that day was the assertion that "All the Jews are going to hell." She reported this to my wife and I (we're not Jewish) and we reported it to the principaland assistant principal (they were). Very soon afterwards, the club was removed from the school.

Jan. 25 2012 12:31 PM
Learned the Hard Way

I have come to appreciate these clubs as a signifier for local quality of public schools.

Good News Club = bad school system, at least in the NY/NJ/PA/CT area.

Communities that stand up to proslytizers generally emphasize character building, genuine learning, and even respect for traffic laws, I have found.

As a high end real estate agent I tell this to all my friends and I may as well share it here.

Jan. 25 2012 12:29 PM
The Truth from Becky

USA - "inner city sleazebags" - what makes you think these people are recruiting from the inner city?

Jan. 25 2012 12:29 PM

What happened to Zoe? Has she lost the media's attention now that her very ready made narrative has served its targeted purpose? Has a trauma team been assigned? Is there somewhere to send money? Why didn't I see her featured at President's Obama's SOTU?
How can we stop the religious use of free speech, a use we must insist, can be characterized as being in violation of the Constitution as understood by contemporary, evolving moral standards!

Jan. 25 2012 12:28 PM

Hi Leonard All always great show.
In my son's school, there is a "good news club". My son who is 5 always speaks of the "benefits" of going to the club such as leaving class early, being with friends etc. I am a strong supporter of separation of church and state. I was very disappointed to see such a club at his school. Fortunately he's not interest in going to the club and he will not be a member of such a club. Plus as the guest said the club is for protestants and not Catholics which is our background, though not religious.

Jan. 25 2012 12:26 PM

Please ask guest to explain why she thinks there is more religion in schools now than in last 100 years.

Jan. 25 2012 12:23 PM

Praying on the ignorant -- and praying on immigrants from church based countries that they've fled, such as Mexico and Afghanistan -- is creepy. Jesus would not have done this, take my word for it, although I can see why greedy inner city sleezebags just love this scheme.

What's next -- making desperately poor people praise Christianity before they can eat a bowl of free soup?

Marketing crosses and "Christian" events blatantly in state-funded non-denominational schools rented in non-taxpaying churches? Yuck.

Jan. 25 2012 12:23 PM
The Truth from Becky

Get over it! This is NOT China, we are a Nation of difference, a multitude of Cultures...educate your child, teach them to accept difference and respect what is taught in your home.

Jan. 25 2012 12:19 PM
MP from Brooklyn

It sounds like this is a gray area if this group is just using the physical space outside of regular school hours.

Jan. 25 2012 12:19 PM
The Truth from Becky

Aha! an afterschool program, with parent permission needed..i don't see the problem. Instruct your child NOT to attend.

Jan. 25 2012 12:16 PM
Disgusted Minority from Somerset County, NJ

Wondered at Thanksgiving why the teacher was passing out The Mayflower Compact, as a handout at the end of class, as her only mention of that holiday.

(For those of you needing a reminder:

Did not get a satisfactory from the principal, and just ire from the teacher.

Jan. 25 2012 12:15 PM

i think we should indoctrinate all school children to rastafarianism, we'll get weed legalized faster.

Jan. 25 2012 12:11 PM
Ed from Larchmont

It's probably a reaction to the unnatural situation that religion is excluded from public schools. How can you explain the Civil War, for example, without explaining the religious beliefs that were behind the actions of both the north and the south? Or Shakespeare without reference to the position of Catholics in Elizabethan England?

Jan. 25 2012 06:10 AM

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