In 2009, Katherine Stewart learned that the Santa Barbara public elementary school her children attended had added a class called “The Good News Club” to its afterschool program. 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 a fundamentalist form of Christianity and encourage them to proselytize their “unchurched” peers, all the while promoting the false but unavoidable impression among the children that its activities are endorsed by the school.
Astonished to discover that there are 3500 Good News Clubs in public elementary schools around the country – and that the Supreme Court has deemed this and other religious programs in public schools constitutional – Stewart, who had previously written for Newsweek International and Rolling Stone, set out on an investigative journey across dozens of cities and towns to uncover their effects on our schools, children, and communities. In her new book, “The Good News Club,” which comes out today and is excerpted below, she explains how religiously driven initiatives are inserting themselves into public school systems with unprecedented force and unexpected consequences.
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