The Good News Club

The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children

Katherine Stewart’s chilling exposé of the well-funded, highly coordinated effort by Christian Nationalists to use public schools to advance a fundamentalist agenda.

In 2009, the Good News Club came to the public elementary school where journalist Katherine Stewart sent her children. The Club, which is sponsored by the Child Evangelism Fellowship, bills itself as an after-school program of “Bible study.” But Stewart soon discovered that the Club’s real mission is to convert children to fundamentalist Christianity and encourage them to proselytize to their “unchurched” peers, all the while promoting the natural but false impression among the children that its activities are endorsed by the school.

Astonished to discover that the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed this—and other forms of religious activity in public schools—legal, Stewart set off on an investigative journey to dozens of cities and towns across the nation to document the impact. In this book she demonstrates that there is more religion in America’s public schools today than there has been for the past 100 years. The movement driving this agenda is stealthy. It is aggressive. It has our children in its sights. And its ultimate aim is to destroy the system of public education as we know it. Published in January 2012.

Select praise for The Good News Club

“Even those well-versed in the religious right's attempt to Christianize American institutions will likely be shocked by The Good News Club. Katherine Stewart's book about the fundamentalist assault on public education is lucid, alarming, and very important.”

Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism

“In The Good News Club, Katherine Stewart unveils a world of stealth ideological warfare, where public schools undergo forced conversions into evangelical churches, other people's children are missionaries' most important 'harvest field,' and biblical literalism is served with free candy and pizza after school. With deep reporting and a keen sense of the larger picture, the stories in this book demonstrate how far-right activists have co-opted the principle of tolerance to advance an exclusionary agenda.”

Kathryn Joyce, author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement

“Stewart chronicles just how divisive the infusion of religion—in the form of proselytizing Good News Clubs, school building rentals to church groups, and axe-grinding school textbook committees—can be. And although many of these activities are represented as emerging from grass-roots community demands, Stewart exposes a much more coordinated effort, much of it springing from national evangelical organizations and affiliated legal strategy networks.”

The Boston Globe

“The author is a great digger for facts and a respectful narrator as she brings to light a group's efforts to bring fundamentalist Christianity to U.S. public schools...[A] fascinating exposé.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Katherine Stewart’s riveting investigation takes us inside the world of the Child Evangelism Fellowship, a sprawling organization that aims not just to evangelize America's schoolchildren, but with the help of lawyers and policymakers, to dismantle the separation of church and state. From the playground to the courtroom, Stewart explores how, despite roiling communities and pitting neighbors against each other, their persistence has paid off, altering the relationship between public schools and religion.”

Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters

“From her reporting in Seattle, [Katherine] Stewart travels to other locales with Good News Clubs and related evangelical efforts aimed at children inside and outside school buildings. To her amazement, she learns that a 2001 ruling by a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court, agonizingly split as usual along philosophical divides, permits the melding of church and state. (The ruling is titled Good News Club v. Milford Central School, with justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas pushing to alter what seemed like settled law — the separation of church and state — to many citizens.) Stewart treats all sides fairly because she cares about factual and contextual accuracy. There is no doubt, however, that she is dismayed at the spread of the Good News Club movement. Each reader will need to decide whether the dismay is warranted.”

Seattle Times

“Stewart’s book is impressive in scope and painstakingly researched. These clubs should be of concern to everyone—not just atheists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, and liberal Christians, all of whom would be targeted by the CEF to be ‘counseled for Salvation’—but to anyone who values the idea that government and religion should be kept separate.”

Kansas City Star