My Response to CEF President Reese Kauffman

June 12, 2012  |  permalink

In response to the piece I published in the Guardian on the CEF’s lesson on the Amalekites, Reese Kauffman, President of the CEF, wrote a letter to the Guardian in which he denies that the CEF teaches genocide. Here’s my response, which has been appended to the original piece:

Though I welcome Mr. Kauffman’s comments, I regret to note that he seems to be unfamiliar with his group’s teaching materials. Nowhere in the lesson plan on the Amalekites does the CEF mention the “New Covenant” and its prohibition on genocide. Mr. Kauffman claims the CEF “would never teach children that God would instruct them, or anyone today, to commit genocide.” And yet the CEF’s lesson plan on the Amalekites tells children that God wanted Saul “to go and completely destroy the Amalekites – people, animals, every living thing.” It also repeatedly tells children that the Amalekites deserved punishment for their “sinful unbelief.”

To be precise, the thrust of the CEF’s lesson is to teach obedience – that if God tells you to kill unbelievers, or do anything else for that matter, you must do exactly as he says. “King Saul should have been willing to seek God for strength to obey completely,” the lesson plan on the Amalekites reads, and in three separate places it instructs teachers, “Have children shout ‘God will help you obey!’”

There are many ways to teach the Christian faith to young children, many of which do not involve teaching obedience through the tale of the genocide of the Amalekites. Readers of the Guardian and parents of American school children are entitled to know which variety of the Christian religion the CEF is promoting in its public school clubs. 

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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