The Freedom From Religion Foundation is warning Milwaukee parents about an evangelical offensive.
The freethought organization is partnering with Protect Our Children and Southeast Wisconsin Freethinkers to alert parents and community members that a two-week invasion of evangelical missionaries targeting children is beginning in the greater Milwaukee area.
Each summer, Good News Across America, a national children's outreach sponsored by Child Evangelism Fellowship, targets the children of a different U.S. city for evangelism. In the past, the Fellowship has sent missionaries specially trained to evangelize children to Chicago, the Twin Cities, and Indianapolis. This summer, it is descending on Milwaukee.
The Child Evangelism Fellowship will lead local churches in recruiting children as young as 5 years old to join its 5-Day Clubs. It only partners with fundamentalist "bible-believing" churches (mainstream Christian churches like Episcopalians or Presbyterians are not welcome). These local churches pay a fee to the Fellowship for training and materials, agree to use its teaching materials exclusively, and sign onto its 15-point Statement of Faith (with beliefs like biblical inerrancy, salvation not by good deeds but by faith alone, and the damnation of unbelievers to the Lake of Fire for conscious, eternal torture). In exchange, the Child Evangelism Fellowship offers local churches the opportunity to recruit "unchurched" elementary school children and their parents.
The 5-day Clubs, which pop up in "parks, community centers, day cares, apartment complexes, wherever children gather" use "fun games, tasty snacks, and cool prizes," quoting from the Fellowship's online materials, to entice children into a fundamentalist Christian bible study. They are shamed for being sinners, then expected to memorize bible verses, listen to bible and missionary stories and begin evangelizing their friends and family.
FFRF and other groups, such as Protect Our Children, are deeply concerned about the deceptive, controversial tactics that the Fellowship uses to lure children to both its 5-Day Clubs and Good News Clubs. These clubs give the impression that they are operated by local churches and staffed by caring volunteers, but local churches are not free to teach what they wish. They are trained by the Child Evangelism Fellowship and required to use its curriculum.
These 5-Day Clubs, like the Good News Clubs, emphasize sin and the fact that children are sinners. The clubs shame and frighten children by telling them they're bad, they're sinners, and that they don't deserve God's love. The clubs claim the only way to escape the terrible punishment they deserve is to believe what the club tells them and to do what the club tells them to do.
FFRF encourages local citizens to observe and document the activities of 5-Day Clubs that spring up in their community, so parents are not deceived about the clubs' true nature and purpose.
You can find out more about the Child Evangelism Fellowship at the Protect Our Children website.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a Wisconsin-based national nonprofit organization with more than 29,000 nonreligious members across the country, including 1,200-plus in Wisconsin. Its purpose is to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church.