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Patticus

How Christian Fundamentalists Plan to Teach Genocide to Schoolchildren

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Disturbing news...

The Bible has thousands of passages that may serve as the basis for instruction and inspiration. Not all of them are appropriate in all circumstances.

The story of Saul and the Amalekites is a case in point. It's not a pretty story, and it is often used by people who don't intend to do pretty things. In the book of 1 Samuel (15:3), God said to Saul:

"
Now go, attack the Amalekites, and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.
"

Saul dutifully exterminated the women, the children, the babies and all of the men – but then he spared the king. He also saved some of the tastier looking calves and lambs. God was furious with him for his failure to finish the job.

The story of the Amalekites has been used to justify genocide throughout the ages. According to Pennsylvania State University Professor Philip Jenkins, a contributing editor for the American Conservative, the Puritans used this passage when they wanted to get rid of the Native American tribes. Catholics used it against Protestants, Protestants against Catholics. "In Rwanda in 1994, Hutu preachers invoked King Saul's memory to justify the total slaughter of their Tutsi neighbors," writes Jenkins in his 2011 book, Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can't Ignore the Bible's Violent Verses (HarperCollins).

This fall, more than 100,000 American public school children, ranging in age from four to 12, are scheduled to receive instruction in the lessons of Saul and the Amalekites in the comfort of their own public school classrooms. The instruction, which features in the second week of a weekly "Bible study" course, will come from the Good News Club, an after-school program sponsored by a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). The aim of the CEF is to convert young children to a fundamentalist form of the Christian faith and recruit their peers to the club.

There are now over 3,200 clubs in public elementary schools, up more than sevenfold since the 2001 supreme court decision, Good News Club v Milford Central School, effectively required schools to include such clubs in their after-school programing.

The CEF has been teaching the story of the Amalekites at least since 1973. In its earlier curriculum materials, CEF was euphemistic about the bloodshed, saying simply that "the Amalekites were completely defeated." In the most recent version of the curriculum, however, the group is quite eager to drive the message home to its elementary school students. The first thing the curriculum makes clear is that if God gives instructions to kill a group of people, you must kill every last one:

"
You are to go and completely destroy the Amalekites (AM-uh-leck-ites) – people, animals, every living thing. Nothing shall be left.
"

"That was pretty clear, wasn't it?" the manual tells the teachers to say to the kids.

Even more important, the Good News Club wants the children to know, the Amalakites were targeted for destruction on account of their religion, or lack of it. The instruction manual reads:

"
The Amalekites had heard about Israel's true and living God many years before, but they refused to believe in him. The Amalekites refused to believe in God and God had promised punishment.
"

The instruction manual goes on to champion obedience in all things. In fact, pretty much every lesson that the Good News Club gives involves reminding children that they must, at all costs, obey. If God tells you to kill nonbelievers, he really wants you to kill them all. No questions asked, no exceptions allowed.

Asking if Saul would "pass the test" of obedience, the text points to Saul's failure to annihilate every last Amalekite, posing the rhetorical question:

"
If you are asked to do something, how much of it do you need to do before you can say, 'I did it!'?
"

"If only Saul had been willing to seek God for strength to obey!" the lesson concludes.

A review question in the textbook seeks to drive the point home further:

"
How did King Saul only partly obey God when he attacked the Amalekites? (He did not completely destroy as God had commanded, he kept the king and some of the animals alive.)
"

The CEF and the legal advocacy groups that have been responsible for its tremendous success over the past ten years are determined to "Knock down all doors, all the barriers, to all 65,000 public elementary schools in America and take the Gospel to this open mission field now! Not later, now!" in the words of a keynote speaker at the CEF's national convention in 2010. The CEF wants to operate in the public schools, rather than in churches, because they know that young children associate the public schools with authority and are unable to distinguish between activities that take place in a school and those that are sponsored by the school.

In the majority opinion that opened the door to Good News Clubs, supreme court Justice Clarence Thomas reasoned that the activities of the CEF were not really religious, after all. He said that they could be characterized, for legal purposes, "as the teaching of morals and character development from a particular viewpoint".

As Justices Souter and Stevens pointed out in their dissents, however, the claim is preposterous: the CEF plainly aims to teach religious doctrines and conduct services of worship. Thomas's claim is particularly ironic in view of the fact that the CEF makes quite clear its intent to teach that no amount of moral or ethical behavior (pdf) can spare a nonbeliever from an eternity in hell.

Good News Clubs should not be in America's public elementary schools. As I explain in my book, The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children, the club exists mainly to give small children the false impression that their public school supports a particular creed. The clubs' presence has produced a paradoxical entanglement of church and state that has ripped apart communities, degraded public education, and undermined religious freedom.

The CEF's new emphasis on the genocide of nonbelievers makes a bad situation worse. Exterminist rhetoric has been on the rise among some segments of the far right, including some religious groups. At what point do we start taking talk of genocide seriously? How would we feel about a nonreligious group that instructs its students that if they should ever receive an order to commit genocide, they should fulfill it to the letter?

And finally, when does a religious group qualify as a "hate group"?

http://www.guardian....P=FBCNETTXT9038

When will the justice department and the government (state and federal) take seriously the threat that far right religious groups espousing extermination doctrines pose to the education of children, and to the future of the country? It feels like it would take the rise of an American religious equivalent of Adolph Hitler (an orator extraordinaire, passionate and filled with hatred and bigotry) for the supreme court justices to actually unite on taking real action against the indoctrination of the youth of the USA today, but of course by then it would be too late.

These people need to be stopped. Religion, especially of the more extremist varieties, needs to be stripped back away from the education system, and the GNC and CEF forcibly disbanded before they start training their poor recruits in paramilitary activities and become the Christian Taliban. If they are allowed to continue to grow then, after a certain point, any resistance they meet will inevitably be met with violence and intimidation.

I really do fear for the future of this country sometimes, and this is one of those times.

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Oh for fuck's sake.

It pisses me off that if this was anything other than a branch of Christianity, the entire country would be up in arms about it. Disgraceful. I genuinely pity the reasonable Christians who have to be related to these psychopaths.

If I ever found out something like this was happening in my kid(s)' schools I would be livid. At least tell me I read right that these groups are not actually part of the school day and an extra cult club thing or something.

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I've been going over this topic several times trying to work out what to say, and I'm not sure I know how to. On the one hand, the activities of the GNC and CEF trouble me, on the other the topic seems to be another of those calls for radical de-religionisation just because there happen to be nutballs in the world.

I would not want the GNC teaching my kids, but completely stripping away religion from the public school system is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

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Ungh, it's 2012. Why is shit like this still happening?

This frustrates me so much. Why is this not against the law? I swear, some people just cling to religion and are afraid to move away from it- move away from the past. They get defensive and think that trying to take Christianity out of schools is some kind of attack on them when it isn't.

And then shit like this happens because we didn't do anything. Practicing religion freely is all fine and dandy, but kids are naturally dumb and impressionable. Preeching this stuff will never do anything but bad.

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I would not want the GNC teaching my kids, but completely stripping away religion from the public school system is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I think the only place Religion has in school is Religious Studies, where Religion can be studied from a neutral third-person viewpoint.

I mean obviously let students practice whatever religious things they must do (like those who have to pray several times a day) but that's it and down to individual cases.

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I think the only place Religion has in school is Religious Studies, where Religion can be studied from a neutral third-person viewpoint.

Yes, I agree. And I know of people who want to remove that and replace it with philosophy. But you always get a few nutballs in the other direction: I think most people approve of RE if it's fair and balanced.

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Yes, I agree. And I know of people who want to remove that and replace it with philosophy. But you always get a few nutballs in the other direction: I think most people approve of RE if it's fair and balanced.

That sort of religious study is fine, because it doesn't advocate a specific view or creed. It is by its very nature neutral, and it focuses on many different religions and their internal sects, which is a very good thing.

It is the religious classes held during or after hours on school sites, which actively indoctrinate their pupils with one particular credo, especially (though not limited to) fundamentalist dogma, that I take major issue with. These particular groups, the GNC and CEF, are exactly those kinds of group.

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From what I know over here, christian groups can run after-school clubs but can't teach religious stuff. I guess they just hope that the kids get interested enough to go to church.

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I genuinely pity the reasonable Christians who have to be related to these psychopaths.

Do you know who I genuinely pity? These people trying to get this kind of thing into schools. They say they are doing this for Christ, but at the same time are entirely missing the point.

Jesus wants Christians to encourage people to come to him through showing love, not to persecute those who don't. He came to take all sin upon himself, so nobody else would have to die because of it.Thus, making the idea that anyone who isn't a christian needs to be exterminated completely outdated and irrelevant, even by christian standards.

People like these really make me ashamed to be a Christain sometimes.

Seconding.

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It's freedom of religion. For those who want this illegal, too bad. This is protected by the 1st amendment. They also have the right to home-school, and use the information they are given.

Sorry guys, no stopping them.

Edited by Mono

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Personally I think RE is important though I don't believe any religion myself but its good to have a basic knowledge of various religions.

I don't like Religious schools much as they tend to be biased to one religion and one religion only and it can breed ignorance especially if they are the fundamentalist type.

In short, Fundamentalist is retarded no matter what religion it is tied to. sleep.png

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It's freedom of religion. For those who want this illegal, too bad. This is protected by the 1st amendment. They also have the right to home-school, and use the information they are given.

Sorry guys, no stopping them.

Where in their twisted religious philosophy does it say that they must preach in schools, even if it's after hours? Why can't they express their religion in another location, like near enough every other religious group has to?

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Where in their twisted religious philosophy does it say that they must preach in schools, even if it's after hours? Why can't they express their religion in another location, like near enough every other religious group has to?

Edited by Mono

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As a Christian, I think it's important to keep this in mind:

I may not fully understand certain Old Testament conflicts, but I do know that these were specific instances, not general rules for believers to follow. The message of love - including love toward those who do not believe as we do - is far more prevalent, and is featured consistently throughout the New Testament.

While I cannot deny that God's wrath was a consistent theme in the Old Testament, and that this was sometimes ordered to be carried out by his followers, no such orders were ever given in the New Testament. Conversely, we see Jesus tell us to love our enemies, rush to the aid of a woman about to be stoned for adultery, and many more examples of what Christians should be doing.

We as Christians cannot use some specific Old Testament events as our norm or our guide. It disgusts me that modern believers have tried to use these events to justify modern killings, and I feel that it is antithetical to Christianity's message to do so.

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The problem is that they totally know that they wouldn't if left to mature and be given a choice, so they bypass that problem by striking them at an age before they can coherently decide, which skips that pesky obstacle known as free will.

Most people who stick with a religion choose it when they're an adult, many former child christians leave during their teenage years. That wouldn't happen if free will was being bypassed. That argument always bugs me because of how inaccurate it is, but how widespread it is.

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