The Wall Street Journal weekend edition reported that after-school Bible study clubs are soaring after two recent court rulings allowed them to take place. The total number of after school Good News clubs is up to about 2,500 nationally since 2001, when the first ruling took place. Many of the clubs are founded by evangelist Pat Robertson.
Parents have to give permission for their children to attend such clubs. I’m unsure whether I would give my kids permission or not.
For the legally minded, in “Good News Club v. Milford Central School,” the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 2001 that religious groups are entitled to meet in elementary-school buildings. It was unclear whether teachers could lead those classes. Then, in 2004, an appeals court said school teachers could lead after-school Bible study groups. The WSJ article profiles some teachers who teach school during the day and lead once-a-week Bible Study classes after school. Most of them are conservative evangelicals.
Such a club is not currently available at my kids’ Florida elementary school. But if it were, and my kids wanted to go, I would have a dilemma. On the one hand, my kids’ knowledge of the Bible is stronger than most of their peers, and I have no qualms about an evangelical filling their heads with anti-Mormon nonsense. We have scripture reading at my home nearly every night, and their knowledge of the scriptures is very, very deep, and if anything they might spend some time correcting the teacher regarding some of his or her misinterpretations. So, attending such a club could do no harm.
On the other, I don’t want them to be exposed to what would inevitably end up being anti-Mormon nonsense once the teacher found out they were the children of Mormons.
I guess I would have to decide based on my impressions of the teacher and the curriculum. Over the years, some non-Mormon classes they have attended in various places have been quite good and educational. Others have been ridiculous (at Catholic school in Brazil they were taught to chant “God is a Spirit, He doesn’t have a body” over and over again).
All in all, I think it’s great for society that the Supreme Court has found its way to provide some religious instruction on school property. I’m just not sure it’s great for my family in particular. But remember it’s all voluntary, so my kids won’t be exposed to anything I don’t want them to see and hear. I wish I could say that for all things taught in public schools.