From The Guardian last week comes this uplifting story of a group using school property to teach American children proper morals:
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.I assume there will be some instruction to help kids tell the difference between messages from God and other conditions with similar symptoms, such as psychosis; the important thing is that children learn to obey internal voices that command the genocide of any society that follows a different religion.
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.
Thank you, conservative court; this is one result of a Supreme Court ruling that schools could not discriminate against this organization when allowing others to use facilities after school hours. Bush I appointee Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion in which he argued that teaching kids to kill those of other faiths or no faith really has nothing to do with religion:
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"Again: the teaching of morals and character development from a particular viewpoint.
Someone needs to tell Judge Thomas that this particular Bible story is not a moral lesson, just the low-tech lynching of some uppity Amalekites.
But I suppose it will be good for the kids, after all; given the sorts of bizarre, arbitrary commands the god of the Old Testament is wont to give, children do need some preparation. We'll start with a little primer on what sort of commands they can expect. It will be helpful to take some of the surprise out of the equation, and since we're using a regular classroom, let's write it out on the chalkboard: