Children’s Ministry Accused of Psychologically Damaging Children

by Ken Ham on July 16, 2014

Secularists are attacking a major Christian ministry for telling children they are sinners, as reported by Christian Today. Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) has been evangelizing children for more than 75 years through various means, the most notable being its Good News Clubs, which normally meet in homes, community centers, and schools. Another famous CEF program is the Wordless Book, a booklet that shares the salvation message using the colors black, red, white, gold, and green.

More than ever, many secularists are deliberately and aggressively targeting our children and Christian ministries that teach the truth of God’s Word to children—and for a reason! They are going after the hearts and minds of this and coming generations, and if they continue to do so successfully, they’ll win the culture.

An Indicator of the Spiritual Battle

Now, in 2001, CEF won a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court establishing the precedent that public schools must allow CEF access for Good News Clubs if the schools permit any other after-school programs that are not sponsored by the schools. As a consequence, some schools decided to end all non-school sponsored activities rather than to let CEF use their facilities.

Now, why would there be such opposition to the Christian message if it wasn’t a spiritual battle? If all life arose by natural processes, and there was no God, why would people even care what others were taught? After all, for the secularists, when they die they will cease to exist—and in their belief system, they won’t know they even existed—so why should they care what is taught to children? But they do care, because there has been a spiritual battle going on for the hearts and minds of people since the temptation in the Garden of Eden.

Increasing Secularization and Intolerance

One of our staff members worked with CEF for many years, and he explained that for much of its history, CEF has been viewed favorably by society, likely because of our nation’s Christian heritage. Historically, American culture has tended to view Christianity favorably due to a larger percentage of Americans believing in the authority of the Bible. But with the increasing secularization of our society, people are becoming more intolerant toward Christianity—and this attack on CEF is yet another example of the growing intolerance of the secularists who are opposed to Christianity in the culture. These secularists only want to tolerate those whose beliefs they agree with, and they have become some of the most intolerant people on the planet!

The attack on CEF has included all sorts of wild accusations, such as claims that CEF’s message is psychologically harmful to children. Apparently, this charge stems from telling children that they are sinners in need of salvation.

In recent times secularists are increasingly accusing biblical creationists of “child abuse” for teaching creation to children. Now they are going a step further to show their real intolerance is of Christianity in general. The secularists are directly targeting those who teach the gospel message, which includes telling children that they are sinners. I have said for years that the devil has deliberately targeted the book of Genesis, the foundational book of the Bible, because, if he targeted the Cross, the church would quickly respond and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ. But due to the decreasing spiritual state of this nation and increasing intolerance of Christianity, the attacks are becoming more overt against Christianity, and are on the increase.

Right and Wrong Exist Because God Exists

You know, it used to be that American culture in general understood that we’re sinful, but not anymore. Which is why teaching the gospel, starting in Genesis, is important. Sin entered into the world through Adam, as described in Genesis. The problem is that we have Christian leaders compromising God’s clear Word in Genesis with evolution and/or millions of years. If we cannot trust what God says in Genesis, we cannot trust the gospel. Sadly, years of such compromise has greatly weakened the church to now allow for increasing open attacks on those who teach the gospel. Those attacking the gospel are intent on imposing their religion of atheism on this generation of kids.

Furthermore, if there is no God, then sin doesn’t exist and right and wrong are relative. The consequence of rejecting God is that any bad or selfish behavior is really like a normal expression of our evolutionary past. We have evolved selfishness, because evolution favors those who are selfish. So evolutionists conclude it’s wrong and psychologically damaging to falsely tell young people that they are sinners. Except that it can’t be wrong, because, if there is no God, right and wrong do not exist either. Secularists are so inconsistent and have to borrow from the Christian worldview about right and wrong in their daily lives! Let me explain further.

Do you realize the irony, then, of saying it is wrong to tell people they wrongfully come short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23)? But who could say that telling children that they are sinners is psychologically damaging? In a world without God, what defines being “damaged”? Doesn’t it just mean that our brains will evolve in some other direction than they would otherwise? Who is to judge whether that is a bad thing? The evolutionary worldview, in the absence of absolute morality as defined by God, leads to far more questions than answers.

The Gospel is Good News

The people involved in the opposition to CEF’s efforts in Portland, Oregon have been working for some time on their campaign against CEF. For instance, Valerie Tarico published an interview with Seattle resident John Lederer over three years ago, and their story is now being repeated in Portland. Lederer has complained that it is his responsibility, as a parent, to give spiritual instruction to his children. But attendance in a Good News Club is entirely voluntary, and it requires the permission of parents. Thus, parents do exercise their authority in this matter.

As part of their opposition efforts, secularists in Portland have posted a photo on social media of a child holding a sign that says, “I am not a sinner.” Clearly they have missed that the Good News Club is, indeed, good news! Yes, the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ rests firmly upon a literal view of Genesis where death and suffering entered the world by the sin of the first man (Romans 5:12). The Bible most definitely has a negative message to mankind saying that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), “what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15), and “all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). But that very point is exactly what makes the good news—the positive news—good news.

The message of the Good News Club does not end with us as sinners, but with Christ shedding His blood on the Cross and rising from the dead as payment for our sins that we might have eternal life with Him. The free gift of God’s grace is available to all who will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. How is that not good news in a dark world full of suffering?

Spiritual Blindness

Other opponents of CEF have even purchased similar web domain names that lead visitors to anti-Christian websites. As mentioned in the news article, critics like Lederer are also upset about CEF’s use of cake, cookies, and balloons to attract children. Apparently, CEF’s opponents haven’t considered that they could (and many do!) use similar methods to attract children to teach them about atheism and evolution.

Such superficial criticisms should cause us to remember the battle is a spiritual one. Ephesians 6:12 clarifies that our fight is not against flesh and blood humans, but against spiritual hosts of wickedness. The hypocritical criticisms, the dogmatic refusal to acknowledge sin, the denial of the gospel, and the bias against Christianity all point to a spiritual blindness under the influence of Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4). Remember, the ultimate answer to these spiritual attacks is not necessarily more laws in favor of Christianity, although those may help in the spread of the gospel, but a strong gospel witness that stands on the authority of the Bible from the very first verse. We can’t force morality upon America or bring back the past, but we can preach the gospel and see the light of Christ change individual hearts and lives for the glory of God.

We shouldn’t be surprised by these sorts of attacks as people increasingly oppose the gospel. As Christians, we need to pray that revival would sweep our country. Pray for our lawmakers to establish laws that favor the spread of the gospel. And pray for ministries like CEF that are under attack by secularists, that they would continue to stand firmly on the authority of Scripture as they preach the good news of the gospel.

You can find out more about Child Evangelism Fellowship on their website.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,


This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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