The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children [NOOK Book]


In 2009, the Good News Club came to the public elementary school where journalist Katherine Stewart sent her children. The Club, which is sponsored by the Child Evangelism Fellowship, bills itself as an after-school program of “Bible study.” But Stewart soon discovered that the Club’s real mission is to convert children to fundamentalist Christianity and encourage them to proselytize to their “unchurched” peers, all the while promoting the natural but false impression among the...
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The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children

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In 2009, the Good News Club came to the public elementary school where journalist Katherine Stewart sent her children. The Club, which is sponsored by the Child Evangelism Fellowship, bills itself as an after-school program of “Bible study.” But Stewart soon discovered that the Club’s real mission is to convert children to fundamentalist Christianity and encourage them to proselytize to their “unchurched” peers, all the while promoting the natural but false impression among the children that its activities are endorsed by the school.

Astonished to discover that the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed this—and other forms of religious activity in public schools—legal, Stewart set off on an investigative journey to dozens of cities and towns across the nation to document the impact. In this book she demonstrates that there is more religion in America’s public schools today than there has been for the past 100 years. The movement driving this agenda is stealthy. It is aggressive. It has our children in its sights. And its ultimate aim is to destroy the system of public education as we know it.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Journalist Stewart (Class Mothers) examines how Christian right groups infiltrate public schools with supposedly innocuous extracurricular Bible study clubs and other groups that have a fundamentalist approach, and whose leaders engage in proselytizing. Focusing on the Good News Club—a group sponsored by the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF)—she shows how its leaders see themselves as fighting for children’s souls and against the secular humanist forces of “Satan.” Currently in thousands of schools, the groups are protected under the mantle of “free speech” thanks to a 2001 Supreme Court decision. While evangelical proponents claim communities often welcome their entry into schools, Stewart argues that such activities are “the handiwork of well-funded and very well-connected Christian legal groups, and is imposed rather than demanded by communities.” Stewart introduces readers to CEF and other groups’ leaders, as well as volunteers, many of whom are proudly antigay, antichoice, and opposed to sex before marriage. While the research is thoughtful, the claims can seem hyperbolic, such as when Stewart writes, “the CEF moves with industrial precision over great swaths of the country like a multinational corporation homing in on a new market opportunity.” (Jan.)
From the Publisher

Kathryn Joyce, author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement
“In The Good News Club, Katherine Stewart unveils a world of stealth ideological warfare, where public schools undergo forced conversions into evangelical churches, other people’s children are missionaries’ most important ‘harvest field,’ and biblical literalism is served with free candy and pizza after school. With deep reporting and a keen sense of the larger picture, the stories in this book demonstrate how far-right activists have co-opted the principle of tolerance to advance an exclusionary agenda.”

Kirkus review in January 1 issue
“Solid reporting… [A}compelling investigative journalism about an undercovered phenomenon.”

Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism and The Means of Reproduction
“Even those well-versed in the religious right’s attempt to Christianize American institutions will likely be shocked by The Good News Club. Katherine Stewart’s book about the fundamentalist assault on public education is lucid, alarming, and very important.”

Sarah Posner, senior editor, Religion Dispatches
“Katherine Stewart’s riveting investigation takes us inside the world of the Child Evangelism Fellowship, a sprawling organization that aims not just to evangelize America’s schoolchildren, but with the help of lawyers and policymakers, to dismantle the separation of church and state. From the playground to the courtroom, Stewart exposes how, despite roiling communities and pitting neighbors against each other, their persistence has paid off, altering the relationship between public schools and religion.”

Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of education and history, New York University, and author of Whose America: Culture Wars in the Public Schools
“Do you think that our state-sponsored schools are free from religious indoctrination? If so, think again. As Katherine Stewart shows, evangelical organizations have cleverly insinuated themselves into the day-to-day operation of American public education. From history curricula to after-school clubs, our classrooms bear the mark of proselytizing by the so-called Christian Right. But this trend is under challenge from other Americans, including many devout Christians, who defend America’s noble but battered tradition of church-state separation. If you want to understand our impending culture war over faith and education, read this bracing little book. You might be shocked at what you find.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Stewart is a gracious narrator, respectful of the religious and nonreligious participants she came across during her quite vast research. In sum, the book is an important work that reveals a movement little discussed in the mainstream media, one Stewart worries is poised to damage "a society as open and pluralistic as ours.”
DBC reads
“The reason the world perked up and paid attention to Sinclair’s The Jungle in 1906 is the same reason that the world should now, 105 years later, snap to attention and read Katherine Stewart’s latest nonfiction book, The Good News Club: it awakens us to something we may previously have known nothing about, but which is under our noses every day, is active in our communities nonstop, and is potentially damaging to us all, and well into the future, too, if gone unnoticed. Stewart’s findings can’t afford to be ignored, for the same simple fact that made Sinclair’s expose crucial: whether the book calls you to action or not, you are inarguably worse off not knowing what’s detailed within it.”
The Friendly Atheist
“You need to read this book. Then you need to have all your friends read this book. Especially all your religious friends and all your religious and non-religious family and extended family members.”

Free Thoughts
“A must read piece of investigative journalism…read this book!”

Seattle Times
"A controversial book...masterfully told. Stewart treats all sides fairly."

“A must read piece of investigative journalism…read this book!”

Richard Dawkins
“Please read this book, talk about it, tweet about it, recommend it to friends, review it on Amazon…do everything possible to bring Katherine Stewart's shocking message to the attention of everyone in America."

Kirkus Reviews
Investigation of Christian fundamentalist groups introducing religious doctrine into public schools across the United States. Freelance journalist and novelist Stewart (Class Mothers, 2006, etc.) became aware of the fundamentalist campaign when it entered her daughter's elementary school in California, and later, the school district in their new home in New York City. Stewart not only interviewed school officials, classroom teachers, constitutional-law experts and students, but she also attended training sessions sponsored by Christian fundamentalists. Despite what she assumed was an inviolable separation between church and state, Stewart discovered that the U.S. Supreme Court, led by justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, has been interpreting the Constitution to mandate taxpayer-financed public schools to open their buildings to evangelical missionaries. The author explains some of the court's rulings, including the leading case Good News Club v. Milford Central School (2001). Although Stewart treats the missionaries fairly, the book is advocacy journalism at its strongest. The author does not mask her dismay at the success of the movement, and she is especially concerned that the evangelicals are laboring to skew textbooks so that all lessons revolve around the virtues of a Christian nation, and are pushing for the defunding of public education in favor of church-affiliated schools. At times Stewart's phrasing borders on alarmist, but she usually backs up the alarm with solid reporting. Some of the most poignant sections move away from policy debates to demonstrate how many evangelists have ripped the formerly positive fabric of student-teacher-administrator-parent cooperation, replacing it with warring camps--those who oppose the introduction of fundamentalist religion, those who favor it and those uncertain what to think. Compelling investigative journalism about an undercovered phenomenon.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610390507
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 1/24/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 303,788
  • File size: 500 KB

Meet the Author

Katherine Stewart has written for The New York TimesReuters, and Marie Claire. She lives with her family in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The Good News Club Comes to Town 9

2 All Part of the Plan 37

3 A Wall of Separation 67

4 The Originalists' New Theory 81

5 Little Red Church-House 103

6 Thy Neighbor's Children: The 4/14 Window 127

7 Don't Know Much About History: The Texas Textbook Wars 149

8 Bible "Literacy" Wars 173

9 Packaging Proselytizing as Education 193

10 The Peer-to-Peer Evangelism Loophole 215

11 Enlisting in the Army: How to Join the Good News Club 227

12 If You Can't Own It, Break It The Plan to Undermine Publlic Education 245

Conclusion 257

Acknowledgments 261

Notes 265

Index 275

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2012

    Important work. A must read.

    Excellent! The author goes more or less under cover into the disturbing world of child evangelising. As a theocracy-phobic, I thought I was aware of what these people were up to. I had no idea that they were 'harvesting' pre-pubescent children from our public schools and enlisting them in 'God's army' as little junior prostrlyyizers. I logged onto most of the websites from her bibliography. We have much to fear.

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  • Posted July 24, 2012

    Well-Written, Well-Researched

    A well-written, well-researched book, often drawing upon first-hand information, about an organized, widespread movement that flies pretty much under the radar. Anyone who believes in America's founding principles, particularly freedom of religion, should be aware of the unfolding story that Ms. Stewart tells very well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    Well written

    This is a great book, the author talks about religion in public schools, giving a brief history and tons of details and statistics. It is well written and wash to read. The author shares information gained through research, interviews and personal experience. If you are interested in the effects of religion in public schools, this is a must read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012


    As a secular parent whose own public school in which my children attend has been invaded by the good news club, i find this book very topical and informative - and eye opening. Now that i know the true intentions of the club i plan to fight them every step of the way.

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