CEF's version of caring for refugee children has nothing to do with food or shelter.

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Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is at it again, this time providing Ukrainian children with something they already have an abundance of—fear.

It’s no revelation that CEF, who runs the predatory Good News Clubs in schools and churches across the US and abroad, takes advantage of every opportunity to proselytize to children and convert them to fundamentalist Christianity through fear and candy bribes. I’ve observed it myself—the organization teaches kids that every word in the Bible is true and that they’ll be separated from their parents and families for eternity if they don’t accept Jesus Christ through CEF’s brand of fundamentalism. They teach little kids they’re inherently flawed through original sin, and the only cure is Jesus. It’s disgusting and psychologically abusive. And now they’re targeting Ukrainian children under the guise of refugee relief.

What they’re doing now, and celebrating through their recent announcement, is “caring for Ukrainian children” primarily by providing them with a booklet called, “Do You Wonder Why? Answers to Tough Questions.” I’m sure you can guess what that’s all about. But if you can’t, I did the research.

The booklet CEF is providing, translated to Ukrainian as well as the languages of bordering countries, tells children that God knows everything that’s happening in the world, including wars, and that he loves and cares about everyone. God is always good and never does anything bad.

Do You Wonder Why goes on to explain the origins of sin and evil—that it all started when the very first people (presumably Adam and Eve, since they are Biblical literalists) ignored God. Not only did this event ruin “God’s perfect creation,” but it also started natural disasters, like hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes. That’s right, kids, natural disasters occur because of our sins. CEF is literally planting the seed for these children to grow up and blame earthquakes on gay people.

Now onto the weirdest paragraph, and possibly the most telling of CEF’s brand of Christianity. I could be wrong, and I think this can be interpreted a few different ways, but I feel like it attempts to pulls kids’ parents into the blame game, seemingly nudging kids to blame their parents for bad things in the world in an effort to subconsciously suggest children should try to save them:

You are not to blame in any way for terrible storms or earthquakes. A child is not to blame if his parents divorce. It is not his fault.

Divorce? Who said anything about divorce? Is that equivalent to a natural disaster? This is literally the only mention of divorce in this booklet. As a writer, I think I’m most offended by the lack of logical flow. I want to get my red pen out, mark it up, and send it back to the author.

CEF goes on to explain more about how all the death and destruction in the world can be blamed on sin, and that God lets it all happen because sometimes all these terrible events bring some people closer to God. That makes total sense… if you’re 6. I mean, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs, am I right?

Then comes the “saved” talk.

If you, little boy or girl, accept God into your life, he’ll protect you from all of the bombs exploding and bullets flying. I know you’re super scared right now, and you probably need protection, so here’s some imaginary stuff to make you feel better. You should be all set now, you’re welcome.

Oh wait, I’m sorry, I forgot to tell you what happens if you don’t accept God and his son Jesus.

You’re going to die.

“Because God is holy He can’t ignore sin in the world. Sin has to be punished. The Bible tells us that the punishment for sin is death. Death means you are separated from God forever in a terrible place… To believe on Jesus is to trust completely that He died for you so you can be forgiven. If you trust Jesus as the only one who can save you from your sin, God will change you and make you His own child… When you have received Jesus as your Savior, your sins are forgiven and you are God’s child.”

What a wonderful choice CEF has presented to children: accept God and be forgiven of this curse you didn’t know you had until 10 minutes ago, or die and be separated in a terrible place for eternity. If that’s not strong-arming kids into Christianity, I don’t know what it is.

How about we leave the kids alone and let them be kids, especially the Ukrainian ones. It feels like they already have enough to worry about right now.

Shame on you, CEF (if I believed you could actually feel shame).

Kevin Davis is a columnist and activist focused on topics associated with life as a nonreligious American. He's a father of two boys in a predominantly Christian town in Western NY and writes about the...

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