Recruiting Children Today to become Tomorrow’s Culture Warriors
The Evangelical Impulse
Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is motivated by a sincere desire and compulsion to “save” children from God’s furious wrath and hasten Christ’s return. In A Handbook on Child Evangelism: Teacher Training (1955), CEF founder J. Irvin Overholtzer described how, during six months of spiritual seclusion in 1935, he was overcome with agony for the lost souls of children around the world:
Mr. Overholtzer’s passion continues to animate CEF, which ambitiously seeks to expand its presence to every country of the globe by 2017.
Fighting The Culture War
While its evangelical impulse predominates, CEF’s leadership frequently appeals to the importance of recruiting children to fight the Culture War. CEF’s President Reese Kaufmann envisions Good News Clubs as playing a role in “saving America’s culture”:
At CEF’s 2010 Triennial Convention, keynote speaker and Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver explained how the Culture War motivates his commitment to Child Evangelism Fellowship:
When you remove Christ as the foundation of education, that which was intended for good ultimately becomes a [basis] for evil. We are seeing that in our public schools today. An attack on our children. An attack on our values. That’s why I am so focused and committed to the Child Evangelism Fellowship. Because of all the things that we battle, controversies in the public school, marriage and the definition of marriage, abortion, all the evils in our society, the real battle is for the hearts and minds of those young boys and girls. And that’s what the Child Evangelism Fellowship is all about.
Katherine Stewart, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, p. 64 (2012).
Sex, Lust, and — Gasp! — Masturbation
Good News Club’s curriculum states that “[o]ur young people need to be taught God’s standard for sexual purity” and includes lessons on the the topic of sexual immorality. For example, Lesson 3 of David’s Reign: Trials and Triumphs recalls David’s affair with Bathsheba. The lesson’s caution to its elementary school age audience is salacious: “Some Christian boys and girls even break God’s rules about keeping their bodies pure. They plan ways to be alone with their boyfriends or girlfriends so that they can make love even though they’re not married.”
In the most prurient Good News Club Bible story of all—for 5-12 year olds!—Lesson 3 of Joseph luridly describes how Joseph repeatedly resisted and ultimately fled—without his robe!—when Potipher’s wife attempted to seduce him. Teachers engage the children in questions and discussion on sexual temptation: “There are many kinds of temptations you face each day. Some, like Joseph’s, are sexual temptations. Perhaps you’re tempted to look at magazines or videos that have dirty pictures in them. Maybe you’re tempted to look at Internet sites that show people without clothes on…. God made your body in a wonderful way so that one day you can enjoy being married. Until then God wants you to keep yourself pure.” The lesson also apparently alludes to self-pleasuring—that nearly irresistible sin of the flesh so weighted with shame that CEF dares not say it outright—in cautioning children not to “do wrong things with your body.” Lynda Pongracz, Joseph, Lesson 3, pp.26-27 (2008).
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