Christian group Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) has set its sights on bringing the children of Portland to Christianity. CEF’s Good News Club is targeting kids at typical summer locations such as pools and parks to join the group amidst harsh criticism.
Oregon is known as the least religious state in the nation from Gallup polls in 2008 and 2012 which is why CEF chose the location for its outreach. And as the current law stands, the Good News Club does not need parent consent forms to approach children in public spaces, as they do for schools.
According to the AP, some Portland residents have joined together to protest the CEF’s tactics. Protect Portland Children organizer Kay Schmitt said, “They pretend to be a mainstream Christian Bible study when in fact they’re a very old school fundamentalist sect.”
But CEF vice president Moises Esteves says that Protect Portland Children just wants to ban Christian outreach. “Children are easy to manipulate, we all know that. We don’t use any of the schemes and high-pressure tactics that we’re accused of. Nothing could be farther from the truth,” he said.
CEF’s Good News Club has been criticized for teaching young children that they are sinners and going to hell if they do not repent, but Esteves said that the group teaches children about sin in a gentle way. “We do teach that children are sinners, but we’re not nasty about it,” he said. “If we were nasty about it, the kid wouldn’t come back.”
Publication date: July 22, 2014