Following suit with their response to the crisis in Ukraine, Child Evangelism Fellowship is distributing indoctrination booklets to already-traumatized kids in Uvalde, TX.

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Fundamentalist Christian opportunists and creators of the elementary school-infiltrating Good News Clubs are at it again. This time, Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is targeting the children of Texas in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting.

Back in March, I reported on the campaign that CEF launched in Ukraine and neighboring countries, where they distributed booklets to kids entitled, “Do You Wonder Why? Answers to Tough Questions.” In the booklets, CEF keeps consistent with their decades-old message that everything in the Bible is literally true (because God never lies), God has nothing to do with any of the bad stuff that happens in the world (but should be praised for all the good stuff), and anything bad that happens is a result of man’s sinful nature.

Also, you’re going to hell, children.

CEF feels their booklets about damning children to eternal torture will be especially helpful to those who watched their classmates gunned down in front of them. It seems to be lost on CEF leadership (or even more horrifically, maybe not) that these booklets are also indirectly letting kids know that the 19 child victims in the school shooting are currently burning in hell unless they previously committed their lives to following Jesus Christ.

So, yeah, more trauma to process.

Distribution has already begun in Uvalde, with CEF’s stated goal of “reaching every home in the town of Uvalde,” followed by infiltration of the surrounding area.

Is this really the message to be sending to traumatized households in a small town where 19 kids were murdered by a madman—that this happened because of our sinful nature, that despite being victims, Uvalde residents brought this on themselves because they don’t subscribe to fundamentalist Christianity?

This is just one more example of how removed from reality and incredibly insensitive this organization is.

And side note: why didn’t they do this in Buffalo too, after the Tops Supermarket shooting? I’m almost afraid to answer that question.

I won’t rehash the horrible attempt CEF makes in their literature to console traumatized and frightened children.

So what can be done about this? How do we prevent these wolves in sheep’s clothing from infiltrating our children’s lives and introducing them to a belief system that includes a 6,000-year-old earth and evolution denial? The simple answer is vigilance.

As parents, we should be keenly aware of what media our children are exposed to, including in our schools and churches (if attending), as well as through peers or online. Sure, at a certain age this becomes increasingly difficult. But in the age “4-14 window” where predatory indoctrinators like CEF operate, parents still have a significant ability to monitor what their kids are consuming.

Another crucial element in fighting indoctrination is critical thinking. In a society not only saturated with religious references and expectations, we also have other sources of misinformation to arm our children against, such as political propaganda, science denial, and disinformation, and worst of all, hate. Providing our kids with the tools to evaluate information, ask the right critical questions, and separate fact from fiction is essential in preventing the ever-growing sources of bad ideas, conspiracy theories, and blatant untruths from taking hold.

And really, the best thing we can do to understand our kids, help them through difficult times, and develop them into effective thinkers is to listen to what they have to say and ask them questions. We need to show that we respect them, and their thoughts and ideas. We’re not here to program them, but instead to guide them.

“What have you heard? What do you think about that? Why do you feel that way? What would you do about it if you were in charge? Does this make sense to you? Why or why not?”

It seems oversimplified, but this is how we create critical thinkers—by teaching them how to think, not what to think. Organizations with a clear agenda of sustainment and growth, like CEF, want to tell kids what they should think. They do this because they have to do it to survive.

Instead, we should be focused on empowering kids to make good decisions and evaluate evidence, because we know we’re not going to survive forever.

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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...