This article was published in the UK paper, The Guardian; I haven't seen anything regarding this published anywhere else but in Alternet (certainly not mainstream big media in the US). I could not believe my eyes while I was reading: this fall, >100,000 American 5-12 year old public school children, will receive biblical instruction in public school classrooms. The instruction will come from the Good News Club, an after-school program sponsored by a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). There are now over 3,200 clubs in public elementary schools, a number that stems from a 2001 supreme court decision, Good News Club v Milford Central School, which effectively required schools to include such clubs in their after-school programing. WHERE IS THE SEPARATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE HERE? And the instruction includes clear mentions of genocide as something GOOD.
From the article:
The CEF has been teaching the story of the Amalekites at least since 1973. In its earlier curriculum materials, CEF was euphemistic about the bloodshed, saying simply that "the Amalekites were completely defeated." In the most recent version of the curriculum, however, the group is quite eager to drive the message home to its elementary school students. The first thing the curriculum makes clear is that if God gives instructions to kill a group of people, you must kill every last one:
"You are to go and completely destroy the Amalekites (AM-uh-leck-ites) – people, animals, every living thing. Nothing shall be left."
"That was pretty clear, wasn't it?" the manual tells the teachers to say to the kids.
Even more important, the Good News Club wants the children to know, the Amalakites were targeted for destruction on account of their religion, or lack of it. The instruction manual reads:
"The Amalekites had heard about Israel's true and living God many years before, but they refused to believe in him. The Amalekites refused to believe in God and God had promised punishment."
The instruction manual goes on to champion obedience in all things. In fact, pretty much every lesson that the Good News Club gives involves reminding children that they must, at all costs, obey. If God tells you to kill nonbelievers, he really wants you to kill them all. No questions asked, no exceptions allowed.
Asking if Saul would "pass the test" of obedience, the text points to Saul's failure to annihilate every last Amalekite, posing the rhetorical question:
"If you are asked to do something, how much of it do you need to do before you can say, 'I did it!'?"
"If only Saul had been willing to seek God for strength to obey!" the lesson concludes.
This is absolute insanity. If it was the Muslims teaching this to their children, American would be calling them terrorists and child abusers. But because these are "good Christians" teaching them the "good moral values" in the Bible, not a peep.
Read the whole article at The Guardian. Not too long, and very good.
Not a nice story from the Bible but even worse to teach it know, I found this on Wiki
It is not clear if the historical Amalekites were exterminated or not. 1 Samuel 15:7-8 seems to imply ("He took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword.") that - after Agag was also killed - the people of Agag were extinct, but in a later story in the time of Hezekiah, the Simeonites annihilated some Amalekites on Mount Seir, and settled in their place: "And five hundred of these Simeonites, led by Pelatiah, Neariah, Rephaiah and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi, invaded the hill country of Seir. They killed the remaining Amalekites who had escaped, and they have lived there to this day." (1 Chr. 4:42-43).
In the Book of Esther, the arch villain is Haman, an Amalekite (his origin is evident from the epithet the Agagite—i.e., descendant of the agags, Amalekite kings) that led the plot to kill the Jews. Because the Lord promised to "blot out the name" of Amalek (Exodus 17:14), it is customary when the book of Esther is read at the Purim festival, for the audience to make noise whenever "Haman" is mentioned, so that his name is not heard.
Some commentators have discussed the ethics of the commandment to exterminate all the Amalekites, including the command to kill all the women, children, teenagers, little girls, little boys and the notion of collective punishment.
Maimonides explains that the commandment of killing out the nation of Amalek requires the Jewish people to peacefully request of them to accept upon themselves the Noachide laws and pay a tax to the Jewish kingdom. Only if they refuse must they be physically killed.
Some commentators, such as Rabbi Hayim Palaggi (1788–1869) argued that Jews had lost the tradition of distinguishing Amalekites from other people, and therefore the commandment of killing them could not practically be applied ("...We can rely on the maxim that in ancient times, Sennacherib confused the lineage of many nations." [Eynei Kol Ḥai, 73, on Sanhedrin 96b])
Of the 613 mitzvot (commandments) followed by Orthodox Jews, three refer to the Amalek: to remember what the Amalekites did to Jews, to not forget what the Amalekites did to Jews, and to destroy the Amalekites utterly. The rabbis derived these from Deuteronomy 25:17-18, Exodus 17:14 and 1 Sam. 15:3. Rashi explains the third commandment:
I had a shortened version in the planet, thanks for elaborating on the thought. I think there is no separation of church and state issue here since it is after school and voluntary, but haven't read up on all the details yet.
Sorry i missed it on the planet. Yes, it is after school and voluntary BUT it's in a school classroom and if it's the only afterschool program available in most schools, working parents would have no choice but to enroll their kids in the program. I totally oppose after-school programs that teach religion within school classrooms; it's all too easy to confuse just a rented room with a school-endorsed activity. New York State just revoked the rights of religious institutions to use public schools for this purpose, for exactly the reasons I just mentioned.
"It's too bad we don't have a transportable worship area," Storck told Grace Fellowship Church, during a sermon about the superiority of faith and grace over bricks, mortar and other worldly attachments.
The Catholic clergy (at least in Québec) have always had a portable kit to celebrate mass anywhere. Convenient when your sheep are all over the place. Dates back from the Colonies. Once they managed to cover the land with (ridiculously) big churches it became obsolete.
In fact there are so many parish churches here that to survive they have to rent out their facilities to secular concerns looking for cheap rent.
Churches renting space to secular organizations: now that brings a big smile to my lips :-)
Thanks for the clarification, I thought it would be one of many after school activities that could be used by students, not the only. =(
Ophelia Benson did not like this story one bit either:
And this is an after-school program – which means it’s done on school property, in the school building – which means children are going to think of it as part of school, and true.
The CEF and the legal advocacy groups that have been responsible for its tremendous success over the past ten years are determined to “Knock down all doors, all the barriers, to all 65,000 public elementary schools in America and take the Gospel to this open mission field now! Not later, now!” in the words of a keynote speaker at the CEF’s national convention in 2010. The CEF wants to operate in the public schools, rather than in churches, because they know that young children associate the public schools with authority and are unable to distinguish between activities that take place in a school and those that are sponsored by the school.
In the majority opinion that opened the door to Good News Clubs, supreme court Justice Clarence Thomas reasoned that the activities of the CEF were not really religious, after all. He said that they could be characterized, for legal purposes, “as the teaching of morals and character development from a particular viewpoint”.
As Justices Souter and Stevens pointed out in their dissents, however, the claim is preposterous: the CEF plainly aims to teach religious doctrines and conduct services of worship. Thomas’s claim is particularly ironic in view of the fact that the CEF makes quite clear its intent to teach that no amount of moral or ethical behavior (pdf) can spare a nonbeliever from an eternity in hell.
It makes me so sick and so furious I can’t even deal with it. You fix it; I’m going to go smell the flowers.