The Good News Club is a weekly program targeting elementary school children, because Christians love to indoctrinate kids before they start asking critical questions. (If you haven’t read it yet, check out Katherine Stewart‘s fantastic book about the organization.)
When a GNC began at Fairbanks Road Elementary School in New York, Monroe County residents Dan Courtney, Bill Courtney, and Kevin Davis weren’t sure how to respond. It wasn’t illegal for the group to be there, but they wanted an alternative for parents like them who preferred more skeptical fare for their kids.
So they began a group of their own and it’s launching next week.
Young Skeptics (sponsored by the tongue-in-cheek “Better News Club, Inc.”) will cater to non-religious parents:
The Better News Club and Young Skeptics operate in stark opposition to the Good News Club’s philosophy, understanding it’s more important to teach children how to make belief decisions for themselves, rather than accept claims presented to them without thinking critically about those claims. In Young Skeptics sessions, children are encouraged to ask questions, make discoveries, and challenge the ideas presented to them.Young Skeptics is not on a mission to challenge the religious views of children attending the group. Instead, our goal is to provide children with an alternative, and scientifically based, view of the natural world around them.
This group is essentially a carbon copy of the GNC, minus the nonsense. It’s open to all elementary-school-aged children, parents can attend meetings, and signed permission slips are necessary.
The biggest question I have is whether Christians will flip out over it or accept it as an alternative option.
For what it’s worth, I had a negative reaction to this group the first time I heard about it, because I didn’t like the idea of atheists doing what Christians had done in this regard. I’m very hesitant about forming atheist groups at elementary schools.
What puts me at ease here, though, is that it functions like Camp Quest: Sure, it aimed at children of atheist parents, but it’s not limited to them. And at no point is the group pushing atheism on these kids. They’re simply inviting questions and teaching critical thinking skills. And if your faith can’t handle that, it’s your problem.