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Portland Parents Furious Creationist Sect is Evangelizing to Kids in Public Park

A public park is no place for aggressive proselytizing, according to a group of concerned Portland parents.

To fight back against a fundamentalist group evangelizing their kids at the playground, concerned moms and dads are getting the word out that the so-called Christian group is up to no good.

“They pretend to be a mainstream Christian Bible study when in fact they’re a very old school fundamentalist sect,” said Kaye Schmitt, an organizer with Protect Portland Children said about the Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Good News Club, the group targeting kids at the park.

The parent group has also taken out a full-page ad in a local alternative paper to make it clear – kids and their grown-ups should be leery of the group offering Good News.

According to the religious group’s website, the organization does indeed target children because they believe that is the age most people become Christians for life.

A spokesperson disputed that any high-pressure sales tactics are being used to get the little kids to find the Lord though.

“Children are easy to manipulate, we all know that,” said Moises Esteves, the group’s vice president. “We don’t use any of the schemes and high-pressure tactics that we’re accused of. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Journalist Katherine Stewart, however, said that the Good News Club, which is associated with Ken Ham’s creationist views, are in fact fundamentalist bullies who routinely use public places like schools and parks to attract kids.

“I started to hear about how kids attending the clubs were targeting their peers for what I can only describe as faith-based bullying and bigotry,” said Stewart, adding that the group also uses public school spaces to ‘trick’ kids into thinking what they learned must be true (since they learned it in school).

Although talking with kids in a public school space requires a permission slip, at a public park kids can just walk right up to a volunteer and find themselves joining in some fundy fun, which is what irks the Portland parents so much.

Esteves acknowledged that kids are taught sons like ‘my heart was dark with sin’ but said that they are not bullies, just evangelists of God’s true word.

“We do teach that children are sinners, but we’re not nasty about it,” Esteves said. “If we were nasty about it, the kids wouldn’t come back.”

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk

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Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.