My colleague Bobby Ross Jr. picked the better article. As much fault as he found with a story in the Portland Oregonian about Child Evangelism Fellowship, the Associated Press version of the flap is even worse.
CEF does a lot of summer Bible programs, rather like those conducted by the nation’s thousands of churches. The difference is that the Fellowship does it outside church walls. That’s what got a group in Portland upset — and apparently the AP, as well.
As the AP sees it, CEF wants to “convert children as young as 5″ in places like “apartment pools and public parks other gathering spots this summer.” That’s “got some residents upset,” the story says:
They’ve banded together in recent weeks to warn parents about the Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Good News Club, buying a full-page ad in the local alternative weekly to highlight the group’s tactics.
“They pretend to be a mainstream Christian Bible study when in fact they’re a very old school fundamentalist sect,” said Kaye Schmitt, an organizer with Protect Portland Children, which takes issue with the group’s message and the way it’s delivering it.
Let’s pause for a little dissection. Besides asking how many is “some” residents — A hundred? Twenty? Five? — why use a military term like “tactics,” when something less pejorative like “methods” would suffice?
Then there’s the loaded phrase “very old school fundamentalist sect,” meant to make us readers go “DUN-dun-DUNNN!” Yes, it was a direct quote. But an alert reporter — not a mere recorder — would have asked for clarification: ” ‘Scuse, but what is a fundamentalist sect? And how does Child Evangelism Fellowship fit that category?”
And how does CEF pretend? It’s not like the group hides its motives. As its website says, CEF has been around since 1937 and says it reached more than 15.6 million children in 188 countries just last year. Doesn’t sound like some sneaky whatever.
On the other hand, AP is also lax in citing the other side …