Legal Issues

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.

  • Good News Club Endorsements
  • Southern Baptist Convention
  • Missouri Baptist Convention
  • Evangelical Free Church of America
  • Focus on the Family
  • American Family Association
If you are a Christian, please raise your own voice, with your own unique perspective, on CEF’s dark gospel theology and “traumatic bonding” approach to evangelizing children.  Blog against it.  Contact churches that sponsor Good News Clubs, the Bible colleges that gave birth to Child Evangelism Fellowship, and the missionary boards and denominations that continue to promote Child Evangelism Fellowship.

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:

  • Centuries of Christian theological ‘wisdom’ about the nature of children were guided by St Augustine. Educational and pedagogical theory was dominated by Augustine thought until the end of 17th century, and until then his edicts were invoked around Europe. St Augustine was responsible for ideas about children such as: “If let do what he wants, there is no crime he will not plunge into”, and, “Is it not a sin to lust after the breast and wail.” Children were believed to be born evil, and the purpose of parenting was thought to be the correction of this evil.
  • St. Augustine was not alone in finding children loathsome and malevolent — this seemed to be the dominant attitude throughout Christendom…. All manuals recommended punishment and denounced love, while tenderness was believed to ‘spoil’ children….
  • Obedience was the be-all and end-all — parenting relations were based on authority and control, rather than affection. The word ‘love’ is almost never mentioned, in reference to children, in surviving documents from this era. Literature produced before the late 18th century tended to refer to children with annoyance. Few violent means were spared in extracting obedience from the ‘little devils’.

(Emphasis added).

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.

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