When I first heard about Katherine Stewart’s book, “The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children,” I was intrigued. I wondered, “Is there really some organized group going after kids, or it this just another crazy conspiracy theory?”
What I found surprised me. First, despite the hyperbole of the book’s title, it is clear the author did a lot of research. She first became interested in the “Good News Club” and the organization behind it when they arrived at her daughter’s school. However, the book isn’t based just on anecdotal evidence from that one school. Rather, the author traveled to schools in various parts of the country, speaking with parents, teachers, and school administrators. She also met with church leaders and others interested in the efforts of the club.
Furthermore, she even attended a conference put on by the organization, and also signed up as a club volunteer, allowing her to attend specialized training on how to set up and run a club. As a result, she was able to see the workings of the organization from the inside, as well.
The picture she paints is one of a well-organized campaign to use both deception and candy to lure grade-school children into an environment in which they can be converted to fundamentalist Christian beliefs. If you’re a Christian, that may sound like a good thing…until you learn that Catholics and many other Christian denominations are considered by this group to be the “wrong kind” of Christian, whose members are not “saved,” and who still need to be converted if they want to avoid going to Hell.
The name, “The Good News Club” actually sells the book short to some extent, since it also has sections describing a number of different ways Christian fundamentalists are targeting children in public schools, including teaching Bible classes for credit during regular school hours, revising textbooks (including changing history textbooks – not just adding creationism in science classes), and even opening churches and holding regular weekly worship services and other church functions in public schools while paying little to no rent.
One of the effects of these activities is the polarization of the community in and around the affected schools. The polarization can even be seen in the reviews section of Amazon.com, where, as of this writing, all of the reviews except one give the book either the highest possible rating, or the lowest possible rating. I’m happy to say, however, that the positive ratings outnumber the negative ones by a margin of more than two to one.
The most refreshing thing about this book is it doesn’t end with the expected doomsday scenario describing what horrible things will happen if we don’t all spring into action to stop this threat immediately. Instead, the author says she believes this movement will ultimately fail, as its true nature is revealed and it runs up against the more moderate majority of citizens. May this be God’s will.
Meet the author and buy her book at one of her two local appearances early next week:
Monday, June 25 at 7:30pm at Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Minneapolis
Tuesday, June 26 at 7:00pm at Common Good Books in St. Paul
*The FTC made me do it: Disclosure of Material Connection: TC Jewfolk received a free copy of ”Good News Club” in the hope that we would mention it on TC Jewfolk. But getting the book for free doesn’t mean that we were obligated to give a glowing review. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Blah, blah, blah…