Reading, Writing, and Religious Propaganda?

March 07, 2012  |  permalink

Reading, writing, and religious propaganda? Sure is starting to look that way on public school campuses, thanks to The Life Book Movement, a project of the Gideons International. The Life Book Movement distributes evangelical tracts written with teens in mind to kids at school. They just hit the two million mark, and plan to distribute another 600,000 thousand evangelical tracts onto public school campuses this spring by drafting kids from evangelical church groups as “student missionaries.”

Since 2009, the movement has encouraged the distribution of “Life Books,” a summarized version of the Bible illustrated with annotations in “teenage” slang. When public school students hand out Life Books to their peers in order to convert them to evangelical Christianity, the Movement calls this a “successful saturation.”

It is yet another way that adults seek to use young people to do the work that they themselves cannot do—a “peer-to-peer evangelism loophole,” in the words of one life book movement leader.  LifeBook President and CEO Carl Blunt explains: “As I’m standing here today, my heart pounds for teenagers…And you know it’s illegal for you and I as adults to walk into a public high school and hand out God’s Word. Absolutely illegal. In mission speech we might call that a closed country. And for years we’ve whined and we’ve complained. We’ve filed lawsuits and all these sorts of things and yet it still remains a closed country. And walking those halls are an unreached people group.”

Life Book founders seem to delight in violating the spirit of the law, if not the letter: “IS IT LEGAL? No—not for adults. But it is completely legal for students! It is a God-given loophole!”

In fact, this peer-to-peer model relies on the funding, organization, and persuasion of adults. The website for Life Book asks adults to allow their houses of worship to function as “anchor churches,” and encourages them promote the movement to their youth pastors and congregants.

The Book
The Good News Club, by Katherine Stewart

The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children

About the Author
author Katherine Stewart Katherine Stewart has written for The New York Times, the Atlantic, and the Guardian. She lives in New York City. Contact her. More →


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