Should Five-Year-Olds Be Taught That They're Hellbound Sinners?

OK, for anyone but zealots and sadists, this should be a rhetorical question, but sadly for Portlanders this summer, it wasn’t. The Child Evangelism Fellowship moved in on Portland with their Good News Clubs (sic), partnering with local churches to host summer bible clubs in the hope of establishing themselves as after school programs in local K-12 schools throughout the year.


More details here:


The lessons they teach include the notion that everyone is a sinner and will go to hell if they don’t accept Jesus, etc. etc. blah blah blah, and the clubs are open to children as young as five. They are also taught they have a duty to recruit their friends to the club. Fortunately this is Portland we’re talking about, and a group called Protect Portland’s Children was already 400 strong by mid-July. The article linked above noted that one of the co-founders, Robert Aughenbaugh, “. . . finds calling a population of children a ‘harvest field’ worrisome and creepy.”  Ya think??


 For anyone interested, journalist Katherine Stewart has written a book about this group, which has been operating for about 75 years and currently has such clubs in 4,300 schools across the nation.  The title is The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on American Children.


My personal view is that any religious upbringing beyond pointing out that there are a lot of different religions out there and everyone has a choice ranging from all to none is one of the most heinous forms of child abuse.

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Oh, I know. It always seemed silly to me that dice were gambling but another device that delivered a more or less random result was ok. It's just another example of the complete lack of critical thinking.

Good News Clubs allowed to recruit on public school property. Absolutely not! If I had children still in school I would fight this to the end. You wanna tell 5 year olds that they are a "sinner" and I just remain silent and let you do this. Then some minister comes in to say that atheists like Penn Jillette are keeping children from knowing that they can have eternal life. How about telling children about Peter Pan and Wendy? We could tell them that they can go to Neverland too. What the hell is wrong with people? My take on it is that they want to make sure they get them young because the "believers" appear to be losing and they are afraid.

If you are 5 years old you should be told about cookies and milk, how much I love you, and how I will do my best to guide you and protect you. This would be a parent talking to a child. Not some invisible man in the sky that the parent appears to be shoving down the child's throat. Proselytizing children is wrong in the first place, and now they are going to allow it on public school grounds. Thankfully someone is fighting this idea.

I was going to say "Hell No!", then I saw the word rhetorical.  I agree that it's one of the most heinous forms of child abuse.

I was raised in a religion that didn't preach hellfire as much as some, but I still had fear of satan getting a hold on me until I was 55.

As a younger man I had a dream one time where I heard crazy laughter and the floor opened up to reveal hell. It was so real! I took this to a minister who explained it all and it would scare anyone to death. Of course, my wife and children were in the same bed with me, and I was the only one who woke up to this. Forget the minister. That fact should pretty much tell you what was going on.


I just cannot get away from this post. The believers are out there recruiting and some minister says that atheists have no right to try and deprive this kid of eternal life. He's 5 years old. He's confused enough all ready. Most likely he is worried about monsters under his bed at night. How can the minister even call himself moral?

The minister can probably call himself moral because he believes what he is saying 100%. He is backward, to be sure, and those who recognize that he is trapped in a fantasyland know it is a terrible thing that he is doing. But not likely than not, the minister believes he is actually saving little kids from burning in hell forever. If that were true, he would be doing a tough but very loving thing by talking to them.

Likely he himself has never critically about it all himself and is blindly following the dogma he has been taught.

What  bothers me  is the power  religious  leaders have over our  children....We seem to agree that  what  they preach is detrimental  to children but there is  little  we can do  about it.....I keep thinking of the trust parents had  with their Priests leaving  their precious  children  with them  only to find  much later  that  those trusted  Priests  abused  said  children.........Just another reason why Theism    needs  to  be  reevaluated......

Perhaps the best thing we can do about it is establish a society in which people can be free from theism with the same legal protections that we all theoretically enjoy in the US.

Yes  Dan  that would  be  helpful....Not in our lifetime I don't think..

Probably not. Until then maybe the best thing to do is educate kids as best as possible.

An interesting follow-up.

The shocking discovery about evangelical Christianity that I made after becoming a father

I used to be a staunch evangelical. Then I adopted a child and realized how much I had suffered

Evangelical Christianity employs the Stockholm Syndrome to full effect. God gains obedience and worship by reminding humans of their utter unworthiness, dangling them over hell, and then “saving” them, in exchange for submission, from the very torments he threatens.

I pondered these dogmas with the newly acquired insight and sensitivity of a father. As a vulnerable child, these dogmas had repeatedly attacked, and ultimately destroyed, my self-image and sense of intrinsic value. As early as my pre-teen years, I struggled with low self-image, depression and suicidal ideation. Now it was unmistakably clear: my religious upbringing was the cause.



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