Atheist Groups in Winston-Salem Will Protest Against Christian Group That Proselytizes to Children

If you’re in Winston-Salem, North Carolina this weekend, you’re in luck: The Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Children’s Good News Spectacular is coming to town:

There’s no problem with them gathering itself — they have a right to do it — but CEF is the group that has been starting Good News Clubs in elementary schools nationwide in an effort to proselytize to kids who aren’t old enough to know better.

So a group of atheists are going to protest against them this Saturday:

The protesters, which include The Forsyth Area Critical Thinkers, The Americans United for Separation of Church and State, The Triangle Free Thought Society and The Unitarian Universalist Church, say they are worried C.E.F. will try to organize more of its radical Bible clubs in area public schools.

“This group comes in and acts like a traditional Christian, accepting everyone type organization, when what they really want to do is evangelize small children to then go out into the student body, our student body, and evangelize the rest of the children,” said Jim Moury with the Forsyth Area Critical Thinkers.

Moury says he has more than 30 signed-up to protest Saturday’s event.

“They have this as a way to get students and parents interested,” said [Moury]. “It doesn’t sound like there’s anything wrong with it. They get kids in there and suck them in with their book without words –– kids who are too young to understand what heaven, hell and salvation are.

One of the many, many problems with the Good News Clubs is that it’s unreasonable to think that kids at that age can separate a school-sponsored event from a church-sponsored event held at the school. To the kids, these clubs just seem like an extension of their classes.

CEF knows this well. That’s why they try to brainwash the students at a young age.

Katherine Stewart literally wrote the book on the organization and I asked her what she thought of the protests (via email):

“I applaud the efforts of community members in the Winston-Salem area to speak up for the constitutional principle of the separation of church and state. The Good News Club may present itself as a benign effort to share its religious views with small children. But its real purpose in being in the public schools is to convince small children — many of whose families do not share the group’s fundamentalist Christian beliefs — that the school endorses a particular variety of religion. Deceiving small children in public schools into believing that there is a state-sponsored religion is not part of the free exercise of religion.”

Since the Christians aren’t going to admit that out loud, it’s up to the atheists to do it for them. Protesting this weekend — and getting the attention of reporters — may be the best way to raise public awareness about what the Good News Clubs are all about and why parents need to be cognizant of their tactics.

If you’d like to find out more information about the protest or go there yourself, check out FACT’s Meetup site.

(Thanks to Richard for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Ray Mansell

    At least they’re being honest: the lower left-hand corner of the poster warns that this is an “Illusion Show” :-)

    • Andrew L

      Ray, while I love your post – I think it’s more fascinating that they are striving to keep their categories of magic clear. Miracles = true, Dark Magic (and that Potter kid) = true and scary, magic tricks = illusion.

  • busterggi

    NASCAR – Jesus’ first choice in sports!

    • coyotenose

      Makes sense I suppose. NASCAR might be the sport most akin to feeding people to lions and arena fights, this despite the existence of MMA (which, though I couldn’t care less about it, is much safer than football and boxing, let alone NASCAR.)

      Heh, there was a Get Fuzzy comic strip once where Bucky the cat told his owner Rob and co-pet Satchel the dog that he was going to develop and star in his own reality show…

      Satchel: Poor Bucky. Nobody’s going to watch his show.
      Rob: I dunno, people watch stupider things. Televangelists, NASCAR…
      Satchel: What’s NASCAR?
      Rob: Cars driving in circles.
      Satchel: Are they chasing something?
      Rob: No.
      Satchel: Are they being chased by something?
      Rob: No.
      Satchel: Man… Bucky’s gonna be FAMOUS.

    • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

      Like Christianity, it certainly is popular down here. Drive in a circle. Reason in a circle. Coincidence?

      • Marco Conti

        What is really sad is that Nascar now owns not only the circle racing nonsense, but also GrandAm (which will merge with American LeMans next year, their only competitor in sports car racing in the US), and a few other motorsport associations. Basically, if you like motorsport in the US, you are giving money to Nascar.
        I don’t like Oval Racing much anyway, but the only one I’ll watch is ARCA. As far as I know, they may be minor league, but they are independent of Nascar.

        • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

          When I was a kid, I watched Stroker Ace, and I went to a monster truck rally. Pretty much everything I know about motor sports came from those sources. In other words, I have very little idea what you’re talking about.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      I wonder what pissed of Jesus to the point he tossed a car at the fans injuring over 30 of them.

  • Librepensadora

    It really bothers me that McDonald’s is one of the sponsors. And that the NASCAR image doubles as Lightning McQueen from the Disney Cars movies and the new Cars Land at Disneyland.

    • Castilliano

      Is anybody writing to the sponsors?
      I don’t mean inflammatory threats, but, “Hey, read this about that group you’re sponsoring.” (give link to Katherine Stewart summary) “Is this showcasing your company’s beliefs?”
      I think most, especially image sensitive ones like McD’s, will regret sponsoring. Though it’s likely too late to back out, they may refrain in the future.

      • http://www.facebook.com/richard.ewald.7 Richard Ewald

        “Is anybody writing to the sponsors?”

        Yes, no word yet from any of their PR departments.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jim.moury Jim Moury

        And still no reply from their PR firm. I talked to their rep on two occasions before the event and she said she would get more info and get back to me . We had heard that about 45 of the 55 original McDonald restaurants had dropped their sponsorship but we could not cofirn this and still ba e mot been able to.

    • Pureone

      Well, it is an event to indoctrinate children. McD’s doesn’t wanna miss a chance like that.

  • ggsillars

    Apparently, when you’re on a mission from God, the normal rules of ethics don’t apply. It’s the hallmark of all ideologues.

    • Sue Blue

      Exactly. I just got into a comment war with CEF puppets on Scott Burdick’s YouTube expose of a GNC Craptacular event. The antiscience, antieducation ignorance was expected, but I was truly shocked by what passes for morals and ethics with these idiots. They either can’t or won’t understand why this is child abuse. According to these nutters, not only do kids deserve to be emotionally traumatized with threats of hell, but they should also be “whipped” and “spanked” for any infraction, to “keep (the worthless little sinners) under control”. They simply can’t understand why it might be wrong, and seem to think that anybody who thinks otherwise is some sort of namby-pamby liberal pinko out to ruin America’s kids! I’m just sickened by them – really physically sickened. Their poor children!

  • Witchgawd

    North Carolina. Another Southern theocracy in the making.

    • coyotenose

      I live about half an hour from Winston-Salem. I once had a local newspaper columnist tell me that there’s no entanglement of religion and government in this country. Using this blog, I showed him four serious, expensive incidents that were occurring JUST in North Carolina JUST in the previous month.

      He claimed they didn’t matter and he was right anyway. His words. And the other newspaper commenters in the echo chamber agreed.

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

        You must be as proud as I am about last year’s amendment to the state constitution.

        • coyotenose

          That and the law that prohibits using scientific data to help form policy were when I officially stopped defending anything about this shithole.

          • http://twitter.com/JuanaBeeri Richard Ewald

            You know where to be on Saturday then.

            The Triangle Freethought protest in Raleigh was busted up by the police for not having a permit

            We have a permit.

            • coyotenose

              I’ll be working, and can’t call in without actually harming other people. :(

            • Ima Freethinker

              Our TFS leafletters were indeed kicked out. But our film team was not connected to that and we continued unfettered. Here’s the Scott Burdick documentary that resulted: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aISnyA6k5Io

              • http://www.facebook.com/richard.ewald.7 Richard Ewald

                Scott was there today as well, doing what he does best (aside from painting).

                • http://www.facebook.com/richard.ewald.7 Richard Ewald

                  The leaflets we handed out at the entrance to the fairgrounds were not wasted paper. Many families who received leaflets (as their cars turned into the lot at the gates), left after reading the information minutes after they arrived.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1269172679 Morgan Ravenwood

        Liars for Jesus, all of them. Have you read the book? Have a look over at liarsforjesus.com

  • mkbell

    The protesters include Unitarian Universalists who are not necessarily atheists. Just as it is annoying to see interfaith used as a descriptor for groups that include secularists, atheists is not an appropriate descriptor for a group that includes UUs.

    • SecularPatriot

      I read that as, “Unitarian unicyclists.”

    • http://twitter.com/JuanaBeeri Richard Ewald

      FACT isn’t necessarily atheist (mostly though), neither is AU (especially its director).

    • http://twitter.com/JuanaBeeri Richard Ewald

      “Unitarian Universalists”

      I saw saw the web page flash on the video, but they don’t have anything concerning Saturday’s protest on their site.

  • SeekerLancer

    NASCAR and Easter Island Moai certainly make me think about Jesus.

  • Red_Neckerson

    ‘Friendly Atheist’? I have yet to engage an Atheist in conversation where I was not almost immediately lambasted with derogatory name calling (including an old acquaintance I had shared many an ale at one time). Tolerance appears to be a trait Atheists and some Agnostics (though to a lesser degree) demand of the 95% that profess some belief beyond the temporal- but not themselves. “Holier than thou” comes to mind.

    Perhaps if Atheists would take a less condescending, evangelical and confrontational approach to social intercourse, we all would be less likely to take arms (figuratively) against one another.

    BTW, I have a benign non-believing acquaintance who is fervently pro-life. I have been curious what the general consensus is in this community on termination of the unborn. Anyone care to hazard a guess?

    • Vanadise

      What does your post have to do with the article above? You sound as though you’re trying to pick a fight. Starting off by casting insults at and making assumptions about the primary audience of the blog you’re posting on is not a great way to get a friendly response. With regards to the article above, can you suggest a friendlier way to stop evangelical Christian groups from blatantly violating the first amendment?

      With regards to you question, I think you’ll find that most non-believers are of the opinion that a woman’s body is hers to do with as she wishes, although there are some who disagree.

    • SecularPatriot

      Wow. Someone who just found the blog and was immediately offended by the mere existence of an atheist.

      Your arguments are bad, and you should feel bad. Go home.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        It must be done.

    • RobertoTheChi

      What in the hell does abortion have to do with this? Stop trolling.

    • http://www.facebook.com/karen.uncoolmom Cary Whitman

      Hello, Red_Neckerson! Welcome to the Friendly Athiests blog! (Now it’s your turn to say something nice, and guess what? You will have just engaged an atheist in a friendly conversation!)

      Although I am very skeptical that you have never had a friendly conversation with an athiest before. Do you actually know the religious affiliation with everyone you have ever spoken to? Do you actually know that the cheerful checker at the grocery store or coffee shop you frequent isn’t an athiest? My guess is that you have had many friendly conversations with athiest, and you just don’t know it! There are a lot more of us out there than most people realize. I bet you have had friendly conversations with Muslims, gays, Jews, fetus slayers and transsexuals too. In fact, I once had an unexplained miscarriage, so I guess you could count me as athiest and fetus slayer!

      Have a nice day :-)

    • Nogod

      Looking at your posts Red, I would say you are far tolerant of people who disgree with you. Church groups need to stay the hell away from public schools. It’s called the separation of church and state.I can guarentee you that if this was a Muslim group, you would be the first one to be protesting. Read up on the Constitution, Red.

    • Pureone

      Well, God terminates 20-50% of fertilizations, and with a pro-contraception stance prevalent here vs. Abstinence Only in much of the anti-choice camp ( which has led to increased unwanted and terminated fertilizations), why don’t you hazard a guess….

  • Carpinions

    This is their SOP. They throw up all sorts of pretty imagery, pop-culture savvy marketing and big corporate logos to distract from who is putting the event on, and why. No joke, one of the local megachurches in Phoenix is putting on a guys-only Saturday party with lots of unhealthy food, sports activities, video games, etc. And don’t forget to bring a friend! Nowhere on their glossy multi-color cardstock flier does it mention anything about church, god, or Jesus, so it looks entirely innocent…that is, if you have no familiarity with their logo (which btw contains no Christian imagery, further deepening the bait-n-switch).

    They intentionally run away from their own iconography because they know that if someone sees a cross or “St.” or “church” or anything like that, it becomes that much more likely to be tossed in the recycle bin. They have to run away from their own paraphernalia as they leap into the arms of the pop-culture hipness they otherwise slander on Sunday morning, so they can convert them some unsuspecting heathens.

  • rhodent

    FWIW, the building in that picture is not the Winston-Salem Entertainment Sports Complex Education Building, nor is it any of the other buildings in the Winston-Salem Entertainment Sports Complex. It is in fact Dorton Arena, which is on the N.C. State Fairgrounds in Raleigh (roughly a two-hour drive from Winston). Okay, so they’re just re-using the same picture for all their posters; no big deal, right? Except that even when they’re in Raleigh they’re not in Dorton Arena. They’re in a different (much less interesting-looking) building on the Fairgrounds.

    This isn’t the biggest deal in the world, but if you ask me it does say something about their concern for accuracy and honesty.

    • http://www.facebook.com/richard.ewald.7 Richard Ewald

      Absolutely nothing in the posters or flyers that even hints at what the event is about, it’s billed as a kid focused carnival, and “free”.

  • Red_Neckerson

    Thank you all for making my point.

    • JP

      If your point was to show that non-believers are intolerant, you failed. Not one of the people that replied to your rather asinine comment were rude or resorted to name calling.
      However if you are unable to tell the difference between criticism of ideas and derogatory name calling. I’d be more than happy to pepper you with all manner of colourful words and phrases so you can tell the difference. For free even! Can’t get any friendlier than that!
      Have a great day.

    • coyotenose

      Does Jesus love you for lying? Because you just did.

    • coyotenose

      Does Jesus love you for lying? Because you just did.

    • http://www.facebook.com/karen.uncoolmom Cary Whitman

      Your welcome! Can I offer you a bit of friendly advice? Maybe if you didn’t start your post by declaring an entire class of people as intolerant and lambasters of derogatory name callers, you might get a friendlier response? Maybe you could try being a little friendlier yourself? Or ask some questions that are relevant to the blog entry? Engage in a civil discussion, instead of labeling people with stereotypes? Give it a try! It’s amazing what you can learn about people when you have an open mind and a friendly attitude! :-)

      • baal

        You made my day today Cary :).

    • Vanadise

      Is your point, “If you start a conversation by insulting the other side, they’ll get offended”? That’s what I’m seeing here.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com/ James Smith

    As I have said before, there is nothing to false, too evil, to lacking in common sense or even in human decency that the religious reich will not use it to promote their sick, twisted ideology.

  • skeptigal

    I’m sure I’m in the minority here, but I feel that this protest is only going to result in more bad PR for us atheists. I mean, the event is a perfectly legal, private event, so to protest it just makes us look even more like xian-hating assholes than most people see us as.

    If the REAL issue is the after school clubs, why aren’t we challenging that legally? Or, better yet, challenging it by sponsoring our own after school clubs?

    • baal

      Go read Katherine Stewart’s book. This isn’t a case where the protested party is a voice among many. The Good News Club people make a specific effort to engage in you’ll go to hell if you don’t believe rhetoric (forced conversions). They are also being challenged legally but there needs to be consciousness raising so folks know to look in on these meetings and to arm schools ahead of time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jim.moury Jim Moury

    I never did thank you for the shout out. It was much appreciated!


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