UPPER NYACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Some parents in Rockland County are trying to keep an Evangelical Christian after-school program from meeting at area elementary schools.
They fear the “Good News Club” could spread negative messages about other religions. They say it pushes one faith, while dissing all others.
“We want them to just meet somewhere else,” Upper Nyack resident Alison Stone said.
Stone says classes teaching children Christian values usually don’t bother her, but the Good News Club, with a mission to “evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of Lord Jesus Christ,” is extreme.
“They do face painting and they have bouncy houses,” Stone said. “Kids and families come out, so they hide it. But Once the kids are in the meeting to get the burden of thinking ‘My family members are going to burn in hell forever if I don’t convert them’.”
Leaders of the Nyack School District approved the bible-centered organization of born again believers’ application, saying the group’s leaders won a Supreme Court ruling that upheld their constitutional rights.
“The Supreme Court ruling basically classifies this group as an organization that in fact provides character development,” Superintendent James Santamano said.
Santamano tells CBS2 parents complained that club volunteers were handing out candy and flowers to kids, so the district put a stop to that.
Still, the group’s meetings continue. Organizers of the Good News Club say there ate 75,000 clubs worldwide, and volunteers are trained and screened according to a rigorous child protection policy.
Some parents still say they want more information about the club.
“I would have to educate myself a little bit, perhaps sit in on a group or a meeting or whatever it is after school,” parent Amber Sacamano said. “I wouldn’t just let (my daughter) off to the group not knowing a little more info behind it.”
Santamano says if the Good News Club is demonstrating discriminatory practices, the district will fully investigated the matter. They’ll continue to watch the club, and all others like it.