Portland Child Evangelism Fellowship Under Fire for Preaching to Kids About Sin


Profile photo from Protect  Portland Children's Facebook page.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A chapter of a nationally-recognized Christian group that seeks to reach children with the gospel of Jesus Christ is under fire for teaching kids the biblical doctrine of sin and eternal judgment, in addition to sharing about the love and mercy of God.

The Portland chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is facing resistance from some area residents as they conduct voluntary summer camps in the area and plan on hosting after-school Bible studies in local public schools. The problem? CEF teaches children that each person is a sinner in need of the Savior.

Those who oppose the group assert that because of this, CEF does not present “Jesus loves you” mainstream Christianity, and claim that the organization is “hardcore evangelical fundamental.”

“They pretend to be a mainstream Christian Bible study when in fact they’re a very old school fundamentalist sect,” resident Kaye Schmitt told local television station KATU.

Robert Aughenbaugh also told reporters this week that preaching to children about sin might give them feelings of fear and shame.

Aughenbaugh, Schmitt and others have organized a group called Protect Portland Children, which seeks to speak out against CEF’s message and influence parents not to allow their children to attend its events. It has set up a Facebook page that has so far generated over 800 likes. It’s profile photograph is of a child holding a sign that reads “I am not a sinner.”

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“[The] curriculum teaches young children that they’re born sinners, bound for eternity in hell unless they obey the club’s teachings,” the group asserts.

“Before the Portland public schools allow ‘The Good News Club’ to use school facilities or to promote their activities on campus it would seem appropriate to allow mental health professionals to further investigate the activities of this group,” wrote Chuck Currie of the United Church of Christ in a recent blog post about the matter.

CEF logoBut CEF says that it is not teaching anything outside of the basic and fundamental truths of the gospel—and that mankind must understand the bad news to know why the good news is so good.

“Listen, the message of the gospel the teaching of the core Christian tenets of the Christian faith that have been taught for 2,000 years in the Bible is what we’re teaching,” CEF Vice President of Ministries Moises Esteves told local television station KOIN. “There’s nothing new here.”

The group has partnered with over 30 area churches to present its evangelical outreach to youth in Portland.

“We do teach about sin,” Esteves stated, “[But] we’re not nasty. We’re not high pressure. We’re not negative, but we teach what the Bible teaches that every human being is a sinner in need of a savior.”

Reporters observed the group in action on Wednesday, singing John 3:16 with the children in attendance, which reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Child Evangelism Fellowship, founded in 1937, is headquartered in Warrenton, Missouri, and has approximately 400 offices nationwide. It offers several Bible-based clubs for children, which according the ministry website, are “fast-paced, one-hour programs [that] are designed to bring the gospel of Christ to children on their level in their environment.”

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  • Chuck

    Matthew 19:14 “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

  • doowhit

    Children rarely have a problem hearing they break God’s laws by lying, cheating, hating others and stealing, not honoring their parents, which is what sin is. Adults seem to have a problem with this. But, God does warn us that His judgment is coming and that every mouth will be stopped and all the world held guilty before Him. The good news? Jesus took the punishment I deserve for my sins. He is my defense attorney :) I will be declared “not guilty” on that day because of Jesus. Love Him.
    He does the same for anyone who “will believe in Him.”

  • Amber

    Religious teachings of any kind should be left in the discretion of the child’s parents. Not everyone is of the same religious sect, and the differences in beliefs between each group is so huge, that no one should be teaching a blanket belief system to all children. That will only serve to pull these kids, who are so easily molded, away from the religious beliefs of their family. Whether we believe the same as others or not, you have to respect the beliefs of each and every individual person. To try and teach ALL children one way, is to say that your way is the only right way, believe it is all you want but give children the chance to believe for themselves and form their own opinions. Religious teaching should always begin all home. It expands from there. It’s like thinking you have the right to tell someone else’s child where babies come from. It’s wrong and it’s not up to you to decide when they are ready, and what they should learn and when. Leave these touchy subjects to the children’s families. Don’t get your nose in where it doesn’t belong.

    • crackedlenses

      The doctrine of sin is foundational to Christian teaching. If you can’t teach it to kids for fear of offending others you might as well give up evangelizing altogether.

    • http://www.thegoodtest.com Jason S

      Amber, do you have any children? If so, do you ever correct them or discipline them? If so, why? Why don’t you give them a chance to believe what they want? The truth is there is only one right Way and it is right to teach that Way. You wouldn’t allow your child to believe it is right to lie, so why would you let them believe in a false religion? It’s the same with religion as with morality or mathematics. There is only one right Way. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father, but by Him.

  • Texan

    For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
    (Acts 20:27 KJV)

    That’s the whole message, not just a part of it. While learning John 3:16, we would expect the learning of: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23 KJV)

    The Bible is not a buffet from which we pick and choose. It is to be studied.

  • http://facebook.com Sandra Phillips

    Michael Long,we all have souls you just choose to ignore yours.Sun is real whether committed innocently of not and God is certainly real.I have felt the Holy Spirits prescience within me and it is calming a.d peaceful like nothing else I have ever experienced.As a matter of fact the Holy Spirit helps me write poetry and pray better prayers.