The First Amendment and Protecting Children From Abusive Religion
This section of the website tackles a number of complex legal and constitutional issues raised by Child Evangelism Fellowship’s activities, including: free speech, equal access, the Establishment Clause, and evolving standards for defining and protecting children from bullying and abuse.
In an ideal world, there would no occasion or reason to discuss legal avenues to protect and remedy children from the psychologically and emotionally manipulative shame and terror of the Good News Club. The evangelical establishment would have discerned, confronted and marginalized it long ago, eliminating any cause for legal intervention. Unfortunately, this is not the case. For 75 years, the evangelical community has declined to offer any significant challenge to the dark tone of CEF’s message.
Far from marginalizing CEF, the evangelical establishment that gave birth to CEF continues to endorse CEF and its methods (click on beige sidebar). CEF is a regular and prominent participant in missionary and other evangelical conferences. CEF partners with many other evangelical organizations. And many evangelical colleges and universities encourage its students and graduates to seek internship and employment opportunities with CEF.
Evangelicals should actively confront the tragically negative notions about children so abundant within their community. In his book Parenting for a Peaceful World (2005), psychologist Robin Grille traces the lineage of these notions back 1600+ years to St. Augustine:
What is unique about the Good News Club is its rapidly growing entrenchment in the nation’s public elementary schools. By turning the Good News Club into a predominantly “public school” ministry — three-quarters of all Good News Clubs meet in public elementary schools — CEF invites the scrutiny of the entire public: of progressive Christians, people of other faiths, atheists, public school administrators, educators, psychologists, pediatricians, legislatures, and the courts.