First, the best perspective…
The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. – Psalm 14:1
Most readers of this blog are aware that I serve on staff with Child Evangelism Fellowship, a ministry dedicated to sharing the message of the Gospel with children. CEF is well established in all fifty states, and in nearly 200 nations around the world, and has shared the same Bible-based message of salvation through Christ for nearly 80 years.
The primary ministry for CEF is the After School Good News Club®, of which there are more than 4,000 across our nation. These clubs meet one day each week in the public school, but after school hours are complete and children have been dismissed for the day. In order for children to attend our clubs, they must have a signed permission slip from a parent and in most cases, the parent (or their designate) must pick their child up at the end of club, which typically lasts for ninety minutes. All of our workers are screened to protect children and each worker has received necessary training and orientation.
The Good News Club includes a visualized Bible lesson where the message of the Gospel is explained, a weekly memory verse, crafts, singing, and a light snack. There is no charge for children to attend and parents are also welcome to stay and observe if they desire.
The children enjoy attending Good News Club, parents are happy, and school authorities are often appreciative of the excellent moral standards and character traits taught in club. So, who could object?
Well surprisingly, there are those who object. A group of Rochester area atheists have taken on one of our clubs with the intention of seeing it disbanded and removed from the school. The group has targeted our club at the Fairbanks Road Elementary School in the Churchville-Chili district. This club has been meeting at the school
for the past eleven years and usually has 100-125 children enrolled.
As many as nine men and women from the atheist group have been in attendance at the Fairbanks Road club at least several times during the month of March. Although they have not made any attempt to disrupt the club, their presence has been intimidating, especially to our young teen helpers. I personally visited the Fairbanks Road club on the 13th and 20th of this month, to see what was happening for myself and to see if I could help.
In the photo directly above, you can see four adults seated together in the forefront. These folks are part of the atheist group. They sat quietly in the back during song time and the Bible lesson, simply listening and taking notes. One of the men used his cell phone to
take a lengthy video recording of the song time and Bible lesson. During the earlier small group portion of the club, they wandered around, observing, taking video clips, and writing observations.
The actions of these ‘observers’ seem to be rather harmless on the surface, but they follow earlier efforts to close the club. At least one representative of the atheist group addressed the school board this spring, but those efforts did not succeed, as the legal grounds have been well established. By a 6-3 majority, the United States Supreme Court ruled in June 2001 that Good News Clubs must have equal access to public school facilities just as any other community group. See Good News Club vs Milford Central School to read more about this important legal decision – a case that began here in New York State.
When the efforts of the atheist lobby to close the Good News Club failed, the group attempted a different approach. They formed an after school club of their own called Young Skeptics, an offshoot of what they call The Better News Club. The stated purpose of Young Skeptics is to provide “an alternative to Good News Club…” This club started during the winter, had two children at the first session, then ended, as no children came to the next meeting.
So… what happens next? The Fairbanks Road Elementary club has completed its teaching schedule for this year. We plan to return for a twelfth year next fall and by God’s grace, we anticipate another year of 100+ children enrolled and we certainly expect to see the Lord move in the hearts and lives of the children who will attend each week. We cannot know what course our opposition will take, but
we pray for them and trust that whatever happens will be to the
glory of the great God we serve!
If you would like additional information about helping to start a new After School Good News Club, just send me a note. I will be happy to work with you to get one started in your local public school.