A Christian club that meets after hours at an elementary school just outside Rochester, New York, is poised to receive some major competition from local atheists.
The Good News Club, a faith-based group that provides after-school activities to elementary school students, meets regularly at Fairbanks Road Elementary School in Churchville, New York, to teach children about the Bible.
"Your child has the opportunity to meet after school for singing, games, and fun ways to learn valuable lessons from the Bible," reads a permission slip for the Christian group posted on the Churchville Central School District.
But after some local atheists found out about the Good News Club's operations at the school — which are legal, as the meetings aimed at young kids are held after hours and with parental permission — they decided to launch a counter group of their own, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.
A screen shot from the Young Skeptics website
That group, called Young Skeptics, will not be an atheist organization, per se, but will encourage students to ask questions and explore the importance of evidence and the natural world.
Young Skeptics is being sponsored by a volunteer-run nonprofit called The Better News Club, Inc. — a group seemingly named to poke fun at the Good News Club.
"The organization was created first as an alternative to the Good News Club, a Christian evangelical group who enters public schools to prosthelytize to children and, according to their own materials, declares them all sinners in need of salvation," reads a description on the Young Skeptics' website.
Young Skeptics feels strongly about its mission, accusing the Good News Club of using an approach that it considers "a form of psychological abuse, akin to telling small children they're flawed or evil, and must subscribe to a dogma in order to avoid eternal punishment."
Now, nonbelievers and those opposed are hoping to offer a very different alternative.
"Young Skeptics is not on a mission to challenge the religious views of children attending the group," the description continues. "Instead, our goal is to provide children with an alternative, and scientifically based, view of the natural world around them."
Kevin Davis, a local resident and member of the Atheist Community of Rochester, reflected this sentiment in an interview with the Democrat and Chronicle.
"We felt it was harmful to children and we wanted to do something about it," he said. "We're trying to keep it light and fun. Our focus is on showing them they're allowed to ask questions about things."
Young Skeptics will hold its official meeting in a classroom at Fairbanks Road Elementary School on January 15, with the Good News Club meeting next on January 16 in the cafeteria.