WARRENTON, Mo., -- Atheists are at it again, this time in Moline, IL, using a ploy to disrupt schools and prevent the exercise of free speech that involves Christian viewpoint.
In 2001, a Supreme Court ruling, Good News Club v. Milford Central School District, allowed for non-school-sponsored religious clubs to be held on public school property after hours. Good News Club® (operated by Child Evangelism Fellowship®) and other privately sponsored clubs must be given the same access to facilities accorded any other group. Because Good News Clubs can't be shut down legally, opponents use a ploy to alarm parents and school boards.
Here's how the ploy works: Atheists go to a school where there is a Good News Club and insist the school send permission slips home with children for Satan Club. They admittedly have no intention of teaching children about Satan but want to raise hysteria in hopes of shutting down religious clubs.
CEF® Communications representative Lydia Kaiser says, "The Satan Club organizers say one of their primary tenets is to stand against 'bigotry' and 'hate.' It's ironic that a charge of bigotry and hate is being leveled by an organization that is trying to shut down another's freedom to tell children that God loves them and they have inherent dignity and value.
"Restricting any optional club activities is a loss to First Amendment liberties and penalizes children who need wholesome, extra-curricular activities. CEF encourages school boards to not be intimidated, to not restrict any clubs, and to let the parents decide what their children attend. Clubs with good programming will flourish and those without good programming will not. The CDC recently reported the suicide rate among children climbed steeply in the last decade and now we have mental health issues as a result of COVID. Youth are in deep trouble and need the grounding that faith gives them."
CEF trains volunteer teachers from area churches to lead Good News Clubs, and some schoolteachers also participate. A 2004 Circuit Court ruling prevented schools from disallowing teacher participation as that is also a prohibition of their freedom of speech and religion.
Pre-COVID restrictions, CEF had over 6,000 after-school Good News Clubs in the USA with almost 5,000 clubs located on school property. A survey of those principals found they saw positive changes in children's behavior as a result of the character traits the clubs taught.
Child Evangelism Fellowship is an international, nonprofit, Christian ministry teaching the Bible to children since 1937. CEF has 400 offices in the USA and is organized in most nations of the world, with over 3,500 paid staff and hundreds of thousands of volunteers. In its last ministry year, CEF ministered to over 16 million children in its face-to-face teaching ministries.