Reviews

“Reporting from communities nationwide, Stewart chronicles just how divisive the infusion of religion - in the form of proselytizing Good News Clubs, school building rentals to church groups, and axe-grinding school textbook committees - can be. And although many of these activities are represented as emerging from grass-roots community demand, Stewart exposes a much more coordinated effort, much of it springing from national evangelical organizations and affiliated legal strategy networks.”—The Boston Globe

“The author is a great digger for facts and a respectful narrator as she brings to light a group’s efforts to bring fundamental Christianity to U.S. public schools….In this fascinating exposé, investigative journalist Katherine Stewart uncovers what she asserts to be the hard truth about the Christian right’s “stealth assault on America’s children.” In “The Good News Club” (Public Affairs, 304 pages, $25.99), she investigates crusading evangelical religious missions disguised as innocuous after-school programs, beginning with one at the public elementary school where her children were enrolled in Santa Barbara, Calif.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“From her reporting in Seattle, [Katherine] Stewart travels to other locales with Good News Clubs and related evangelical efforts aimed at children inside and outside school buildings. To her amazement, she learns that a 2001 ruling by a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court, agonizingly split as usual along philosophical divides, permits the melding of church and state. (The ruling is titled Good News Club v. Milford Central School, with justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas pushing to alter what seemed like settled law — the separation of church and state — to many citizens.) Stewart treats all sides fairly because she cares about factual and contextual accuracy. There is no doubt, however, that she is dismayed at the spread of the Good News Club movement. Each reader will need to decide whether the dismay is warranted.”—Seattle Times

“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.”—Michelle Goldberg, author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism

“Deep reporting and a keen sense of the larger picture…”—Kathryn Joyce, author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement

“In January 2009, Katherine Stewart, a novelist, journalist and mother, learned that her children’s school in Santa Barbara, California, had added a Bible-study class to its list of afterschool programs. The afterschool group was called, innocuously enough, the ‘Good News Club.’ Curious as to what this ‘Good News Club’ was about, Stewart investigated and discovered that it was part of a nationwide effort sponsored by a conservative evangelical organization called the Child Evangelism Fellowship, a group aiming to ‘take back’ America’s public schools. Backing this effort, she found, are three long-term Christian Right-founded and funded legal enterprises: the Alliance Defense Fund, the Liberty Counsel and the American Center for Law and Justice.”—The Huffington Post

“Please read this book, talk about it, tweet about it, recommend it to friends, review it on Amazon, name and shame the culprits, do everything possible to bring Katherine Stewart’s shocking message to the attention of everyone in America.”—Richard Dawkins

“Ms. Stewart’s investigative reporting and stylish writing makes for a gripping and frightening read.”—Elisabeth Cornwell

“Without doubt this is one of the most important books to appear this year. In it investigative reporter Katherine Stewart exposes the staggeringly serious under-the-radar tsunami of attacks on American children, public education, and church-state separation.”—Edd Doerr, Free Inquiry Magazine

“Katherine Stewart uncovers a right-wing conspiracy to infiltrate and destroy the nation’s public school system, using recent Supreme Court decisions as a lever. It’s a must-read for anyone who’s seen public school kids, perhaps their own, targeted for proselytizing by peers, teachers and adult volunteers. And for those who haven’t, it’s a wake-up call.”—AlterNet

“Solid reporting…[A] compelling investigative journalism about an undercovered phenomenon.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Journalist and novelist Katherine Stewart has written a powerful exposé about the innocuously named Good News Club, a ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) that has nearly 3,500 branches in public K-6 schools around the country. In 2001, the Supreme Court, in Good News Club v. Milford Central School, ruled that an outside organization may proselytize after hours in public schools. In his dissenting opinion, Justice Souter wrote that “it is beyond question that Good News intends to use the public school premises… for an evangelical service of worship calling children to commit themselves in an act of Christian conversion.”—Shelf Awareness

“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.”—Sarah Posner, author of God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters

“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.”—DCB Reads

“If you want to understand the impending culture war over faith and education, read this bracing little book. You may be shocked at what you find.”—Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of education and history at New York University

“When an after-school “Bible study” program called the Good News Club showed up at the Santa Barbara public school where journalist Katherine Stewart sent her children, she decided to take a closer look at its sponsoring organization, the Child Evangelism Fellowship, and other groups like it. Stewart was surprised to learn that there is more religion in public education today than there has been in the past 100 years.”—TruthOut

“According to [Katherine] Stewart’s research, the [Child Evangelism Fellowship’s] fundamentalism follows the pattern established by other Christian Nationalist groups, such as Coral Ridge Ministries (now Truth in Action Ministries), Focus on the Family, and Concerned Women for America.”—Eric Alterman

“[Katherine] Stewart…interviewed kids who’ve been encouraged to proselytize to their friends at school, and attended a conference where members of the Good News Club and its governing organization, the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), vowed to ‘reclaim’ public schools for Christ.”—Starshine Roshell

“[Katherine] Stewart first notices these odd little happy Christian clubs popping up in her child’s schools, and then she digs deeper: she talks to their representatives. She attends their conventions. She takes their training courses. She sees precisely what they’re doing, and gets the words straight from their mouths: they’re out to convert every child in the world to their hateful, narrow, “Bible-believing” dogma, even while in public they claim to be ecumenical and kind and loving.”—PZ Myers

“While the Supreme Court’s 1962 decision banning prayer in public schools may have removed God from the classroom, Bible study programs (aka sectarian training sessions) are alive and well in thousands of afterschool programs in public schools across the country, [according to Katherine Stewart].”—Z Magazine

“As [Stewart] has ably documented, the movement by militant fundamentalists to compromise the religious neutrality of our schools, and to disrespect and disparage other faiths, has gained steam and threatens the religious liberty of us all.”—Al Menendez, Americans for Religious Liberty

“The most refreshing thing about this book is it doesn’t end with the expected doomsday scenario describing what horrible things will happen if we don’t all spring into action to stop this threat immediately. Instead, the author says she believes this movement will ultimately fail, as its true nature is revealed and it runs up against the more moderate majority of citizens. May this be God’s will.” - Twin Cities Jewfolk

“Good News Clubs aren’t good news for everyone, as Katherine Stewart makes clear in an exposé of how some evangelical groups are using public schools to — as they might put it — reclaim America for Christ.” - The American Jewish World

“Indeed, it seems to have happened so fast that I somehow missed all the church/state opinions that have permitted the evangelical right to claim legality as it invades the public school. Hence, my gratitude to Katherine Stewart even if I come late to the party. The Good News Club offers a wealth of information and insight, written clearly and responsibly. My confession of ignorance is further grounds for recommending it, since I suspect that I am not alone.” - The Humanist

The Good News Club, by Katherine Stewart