The Good News Club: Coming to a Public School Near You!
In 2002 I spent 48 hours at a Buddhist monastery on an island off the coast of South Korea. The stay was pleasant, mainly spent sipping tea and talking to a monk about the world. I was not looking for any sort of religious experience at the monastery, rather it offered a very cheap night’s stay during a month long vacation, as well as offering a respite from the heavy amount of drinking that was usually going on during the trip.
I only mention this stay because, never during an intense 48 hours of talking to several monks did any of them ask me to consider Buddhism. Buddhism and its beliefs was their thing, and not mine. This divide was respected, and I’d be happy to stay in that monastery again.
A few days later, I was on the busy streets of Seoul, heading to a World Cup game. I crossed a large park-like area with many thousands of fans from around the world.
There were many young Koreans handing out pamphlets to the hordes of soccer enthusiasts, and a pamphlet was soon put in my hand with the young girl who placed it there saying in her best broken english, ‘Have you heard the good news?”
The pamphlet was actually a schedule of soccer matches for the tournament on one side, and then a Christian evangelizing pamphlet on the other. During the walk up to the stadium I must have received 10-15 pamphlets about the good news. It was relentless. There were possibly more good news pamphlet passer-outers than soccer fans. It was an in your face attempt to evangelize, and not only this game, but every single game I attended during the World Cup. Quite annoying, because that schedule of games was pretty handy.
It was the first time I had heard the phrase ‘good news’ refer to Jesus and Christianity, and it has forever tainted the phrase (insert your good news/bad news joke here).
Perhaps asking somebody to discuss good news is easier to swallow for most people than being asked to discuss Jesus, as comedian Jim Gaffigan notes in the first 30 seconds of this clip from his album Beyond the Pale
Recently I came across an organization using the good news phrase – The Good News Club. You may want to read the rest of this article near a toilet, as it has the potential to make you want to puke.
The Good News club is an evangelical Christian organization sponsored by the Child Evangelism Fellowship (that phrase is perhaps the scariest combination of letters I have ever connected) that is allowed to be in your schools, and its specific purpose is to target young children and teach them about Christ. Additionally, because they are allowed in public schools, they use schools to legitimize their message as being sponsored by the school.
At this point, you may be wondering how they are allowed to enter public schools. Well, they won the right via the Supreme Court.
A short, 30 minute documentary has popped up on the internet taking an insider look into the Good News Club, titled Sophia Investigates the Good News Club. It’s a great short film documenting the culture of deceit and the outrageous means by which the GNC are lawfully allowed to set up shop in elementary schools around the country.
In addition to the film, there is a book that tackles the subject by Katherine Stewart, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children.
If receiving hundreds of pamphlets at the World Cup did not destroy the phrase good news already, learning about The Good News Club has basically cemented the fact that I will never trust anybody who uses the phrase…ever.
As a teacher at a private school, I do not have to worry about the GNC infiltrating my school, and I wish there was some advice available as to what to do if they do come to your school. Unfortunately, they are 100% legal, so for now your options are limited.
I’d love to hear from anybody in the comments who have dealt with this organization.
Featured Image: Richard