Atheist Parents Take On Christian ‘Good News Club’ With ‘Better News Club’

Jan 27, 2015

By The Jewish Week

A group of atheists in Rochester, N.Y., has bad news for the Good News Club, a Christian after-school club for children.

The group, consisting of atheists, humanists and skeptics, announced its own after-school program: a Young Skeptics club featuring science, logic and learning activities.

Young Skeptics is being sponsored by a volunteer-led group calling itself “The Better News Club.” Its members come from the Atheist Community of Rochester — the same group that offered the first atheist invocation before a town meeting in Greece, N.Y., after the Supreme Court ruled in May that public meetings could begin with sectarian prayers.

Both clubs are based at Fairbanks Road Elementary School in Churchville, N.Y.


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15 comments on “Atheist Parents Take On Christian ‘Good News Club’ With ‘Better News Club’

  • Wow, I’m surprised that these “Good News Clubs” exist in public schools, even if it is after-school. What an insidious way to proselytize to young children. I’m glad to see countermeasures (“Better News Club”) being put into place.



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  • @OP – Both clubs are based at Fairbanks Road Elementary School in Churchville, N.Y.

    There is a danger of this producing a “them and us” division, in the community. – Especially if any negative preaching about unbelievers, or anti-science preaching, takes place in the “Dud-News Club”!



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  • “What an insidious way to proselytize to young children.”

    (Be careful! Depending on your perspective, that statement could apply to both clubs.)
    The “Better News Club” is not just a countermeasure to “insidious” religious promotion.
    In the absence of other “positive” influences (and the presence of so many potential negative and destructive influences), just like the “Good News Club”, it also happens to be a relatively good way to keep kids (possibly voluntarily) out of getting into (worse) trouble (than exposure to religion might entail).



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  • Doug,

    I think Billions and Billions was suggesting Good News Clubs were insidious not the Better News Clubs which was deliberately avoiding religion but focusing on scepticism. As a child from a religious background I can tell you it isn’t always the secular kids who are getting into all the trouble, none of my secular friends ever got into trouble with drugs etc. I knew plenty at church who were doing drugs, having sex as teens etc. Part of this was because (I think) there was a forbidden fruit aspect, as well as sexual repression and general ignorance about sex.

    Religion is not harmless, I led to me have a nervous breakdown at 15, I quit school for a year and pulled myself back together – all because I was a fundamentalist who believed in thought crime and was spending the time I should have been learning mentally editing every normal thought that was going through my pubescent mind. It had a massive impact on me.

    Regards



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  • Doug Jan 28, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    Don’t you think there is already such a division?
    So, what’s the solution?

    While proselytising faith organisations exist solutions are difficult.

    My point was to try not to make social divides greater, or more problematical.



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  • The pushback gained momentum…

    { http://richarddawkins.myshopify.com/collections/books/products/the-good-news-club-katherine-stewart }. She made it clear, however, the book wasn’t intended to be a springboard for another club. Parents took the initiative.

    Better N C, for all intents and purposes, is very similar to Camp Quest. I.e., open to all, with focus on critical thinking skills, et.al. Perpetual problem of pin-pointing exactly how to label non-stamp collecting folks – just calling it an ‘Atheist Gathering’ is the path of least resistance.



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  • Sometimes making social divides greater is necessary to counterbalance or oppose the spread of falsehood or the breakdown of the separation of church and state. For this reason I support the Better News Clubs. And yet, a better name might have been “Best News Clubs.”



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  • “… a better name might have been “Best News Clubs.”

    That makes me think of the movie “Elf”, and the small shop that claimed it had “the best coffee”.
    But how could anyone claim the “best” anything? Would they really want to broadcast such conceit?
    No matter how good anything is, something better can always be conceived of (even if not realized). In an infinite universe, there is no such thing as “best”. It’s just another illusion.



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  • “…to try not to make social divides greater…”

    Both sides of this divide believe they are doing the right thing.
    Hopefully the “better” club won’t do anything that could be construed as “counter-proselytizing”, though it’s hard to imagine how they could possibly pull that off, given the present situation and the “threat” they pose to the other club’s existence.
    This is a war of ideas, and in war all is fair and somebody always gets hurt.



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  • Yep!

    Dawkins was exactly right when complaining about the act of labeling children at all, rather than the label itself. We must only ever increase their choices and strengthen their comprehension of and autonomy in the world.

    Open to all is a crucial idea.



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  • 14
    victimlesscrime says:

    Isn’t the point here that these Good News clubs are unconstitutional due to their proselytising on school properties? Doesn’t setting up a counter – club legitimise them?



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  • victimlesscrime Feb 4, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Isn’t the point here that these Good News clubs are unconstitutional due to their proselytising on school properties? Doesn’t setting up a counter – club legitimise them?

    I think by setting them up as separate after-school clubs they can get around the legal restrictions.



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