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The Good News Club: The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children Hardcover – January 24, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

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

Kirkus review in January 1 issue
“Solid reporting… [A}compelling investigative journalism about an undercovered phenomenon.”

Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism and The Means of Reproduction
“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.”

Sarah Posner, senior editor, Religion Dispatches
“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 exposes how, despite roiling communities and pitting neighbors against each other, their persistence has paid off, altering the relationship between public schools and religion.”

Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of education and history, New York University, and author of Whose America: Culture Wars in the Public Schools
“Do you think that our state-sponsored schools are free from religious indoctrination? If so, think again. As Katherine Stewart shows, evangelical organizations have cleverly insinuated themselves into the day-to-day operation of American public education. From history curricula to after-school clubs, our classrooms bear the mark of proselytizing by the so-called Christian Right. But this trend is under challenge from other Americans, including many devout Christians, who defend America’s noble but battered tradition of church-state separation. If you want to understand our impending culture war over faith and education, read this bracing little book. You might be shocked at what you find.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Stewart is a gracious narrator, respectful of the religious and nonreligious participants she came across during her quite vast research. In sum, the book is an important work that reveals a movement little discussed in the mainstream media, one Stewart worries is poised to damage "a society as open and pluralistic as ours.”
 
DBC reads
“The reason the world perked up and paid attention to Sinclair’s The Jungle in 1906 is the same reason that the world should now, 105 years later, snap to attention and read Katherine Stewart’s latest nonfiction book, The Good News Club: it awakens us to something we may previously have known nothing about, but which is under our noses every day, is active in our communities nonstop, and is potentially damaging to us all, and well into the future, too, if gone unnoticed. Stewart’s findings can’t afford to be ignored, for the same simple fact that made Sinclair’s expose crucial: whether the book calls you to action or not, you are inarguably worse off not knowing what’s detailed within it.”
 
The Friendly Atheist
“You need to read this book. Then you need to have all your friends read this book. Especially all your religious friends and all your religious and non-religious family and extended family members.”

Free Thoughts
“A must read piece of investigative journalism…read this book!”

Seattle Times
"A controversial book...masterfully told. Stewart treats all sides fairly."

“A must read piece of investigative journalism…read this book!”

Richard Dawkins
“Please read this book, talk about it, tweet about it, recommend it to friends, review it on Amazon…do everything possible to bring Katherine Stewart's shocking message to the attention of everyone in America."

About the Author

Katherine Stewart has written for The Guardian, the New York Times, and Religion Dispatches. She lives with her family in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (January 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586488430
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586488437
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #728,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 76 people found the following review helpful By C. Schink on April 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Katherine Stewart deserves so much praise for the hard work she has put into exposing a very troubling aspect of American society. I also have to congratulate her on taking this research and making it easily accessible and never trailing off into "Christian bashing," though I'm sure many people will naturally feel this is the case. She's factual and methodical in her recording of the details, and they dovetail well with other books such as "The Family."

From the beginning the reader gets acquainted with several Christian groups of an "alphabet soup" nature with questionable motives and alarming amounts of money. From the get-go there is a sense of something distinctly authoritarian about how these many groups operate.

The Good News Club, as one of these groups, "seeks to reach children who in many cases are not old enough to read," (p. 16) by using public schools as places to convince children to convert other children. This is often done with bribes such as candy and prizes! One reason for this is the so-called 4/14 window (children ages 4 to 14 are liable to convert and remain converted, according to these groups). However, a bigger reason is the need to "retake America," with an army of Christian believers. Unfortunately times are so bad that many people may believe this is a good idea.

"How's it going at that school you were telling me about? The one where the principal was...you know...uncooperative?' [the older man asked] 'We slaughtered 'em!' the younger man replies." (p. 39)

This exchange highlights the attitude taken by many of these Christian activists in the Good News Club. Public schooling, indeed the public at large, is an enemy, a war is being fought, and the prize is the hearts and minds of children.
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41 of 52 people found the following review helpful By SORiley on April 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Good News Club is the most shocking book I've read all year- it's explosive, like a bomb in your hand, this book will blow you away. The all too real plot is about conspiring Born Again fundamentalist dead set on taking over our public schools. The key words being "our" and "public"- as in public property and all of ours. It's a book that gets to the truth by pealing back the layers of an unbelievably well organized and heavily funded silent war that has been released on our kids, one school at a time. Katherine exposes this fiendish plot by somehow getting past the "secret handshakes" and insider codes of conduct that calls to mind a modern day William Stetson Kennedy outing the KKK.

At its core the book is really a plea to all of us, conservative, liberal both to take notice of our extremely vulnerable and taken for granted public school system and ask the question: do we believe our country should even have public schools open to all, regardless of personal beliefs(after all, not all children are born in Born Again households). If the answer is hell yeah, it's America after all, land of the free, then you need to read this book. I would even take it a step further and say that it should be required reading for all those working in education, parents or grandparents, sons and daughters... which after all includes all of us.
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88 of 115 people found the following review helpful By A. Muxika on February 3, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stewart concludes her book with a point, that we are more inclined to watch out for political and religious groups with special agendas "when they run for office," but not so much when they visit our communities. Unfortunately part of the problem is that groups like Good News Clubs introduce themselves under false pretenses (as "non-denominational bible-study groups") and have the legal and financial support system to undermine the separation of church and state--a necessary separation, Stewart states, for the betterment of sectarian and secular balance.

This is a well-organized text set up much like a thesis: key points summarized in an introduction, defined with quotable references in each chapter, an ending paragraph to wrap up her examples, and copious end notes. It is unfortunate that a book with so much careful consideration and heart has so many typos, though.

As the book starts, Stewart paints a very bleak picture of how pervasive Christian Nationalists, Dominionists, and Evangelical conservatives can be with their goals to develop their narrow-minded courses, events, and clubs on public property. Now I say "narrow-minded" because the goal is not just to present the Bible and Christian principles to young students, but to proselytize to them, convert them to a very strict, "Bible-believing" version of Christianity, promote student-to-student proselytizing in their stead, and demand that their way should be the only way to salvation. The students they're out to reach are not just in high school, though; the target demographic is students from four to fourteen (Google the "4/14 window").
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68 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Isaac B. Sloan on January 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In my opinion this book was well written. The idea's weren't exactly new to me but hopefully could serve as an eyeopener to moderate christians who don't see a problem with religious fundamentalists of the christian flavor.
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