An Investigation of the Dark Gospel of Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Good News Clubs
Mr. Overholtzer’s Home Bible study classes (which would later be known as “Good News Clubs”) were initially concentrated in Northern California and Seattle, Washington.  In 1933, Mr. Overholtzer expanded his movement to Chicago, Illinois.  There, he secured the enthusiasm, support, and cooperation of leaders of the Moody Bible Institute, the Moody Church, and other ministries in the area.  Soon, leading evangelical publications of the day validated Mr. Overholtzer’s movement among evangelicals.  “No one can measure the leadership of the Christian periodicals of a nation,” wrote Mr. Overholtzer.  An editorial appearing in the Sunday School Times on Aug. 23, 1936, “turned the tide all over America….  Doors began to open and many invitations came to speak.”  Influential articles also appeared in the May 1936 issue of King’s Business, the official organ of what is now Biola University and the “Christianity Today” of its day.  Articles also appeared in the September 1936 issues of Moody Monthly and Revelation. The next year, in 1937, Mr. Overholtzer and leaders of Moody Bible Institute, The Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University), and Wheaton College — three of the most prominent Bible colleges in the country — formally organized Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) at a meeting in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Paul Rood, CEF’s President from 1937-1952, was a famous and highly energetic “old time revivalist.”  After the famous 1925 Scopes Trial and William Jennings Bryan’s subsequent death, Dr. Rood founded the “Bryan Bible League,” which advocated an anti-evolution amendment to the Constitution.  In 1929, Rood assumed the presidency of the World Christian Fundamentals Association (WCFA), which had been extremely influential in the 1920s in promoting anti-evolution laws, including the one famously tested in the Scopes trial.  By 1929, however, fundamentalist efforts to gain control of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., the Northern Baptists, and Princeton Theological Seminary had all failed, and most post- Scopes-trial anti-evolution legislative efforts had also failed.  Fundamentalists were in a dramatic retreat.  Paul Rood played a leading and highly effective role in refocusing fundamentalism on personal evangelism, helping fundamentalists regroup, build new evangelical organizations, thrive at the grassroots level, and missionize the developing world.  While president of both WCFA and CEF, Rood became famous for his “Back to the Bible” broadcasts over CBS and became a leader, along with the soon-to-become-world-famous Rev. Billy Graham, of Youth for Christ. By 1955, CEF’s board would be joined by Dr. Bob Jones Jr. of Bob Jones University and leaders of Northwestern Bible School, William Jennings Bryan University (founded 5 years after the Scopes trial), Winnipeg Bible Institute (now Providence University College), Prairie Bible Institute, and Dallas Theological Seminary. In his short biography of CEF, Mr. Overholtzer wrote: “By the grace of God the Child Evangelism Fellowship was gradually being built around the Bible institutes and Christian colleges of the United States and Canada….Nearly all the Bible Institutes of the United States are represented on the Fellowship Council.  How wonderful it has been to have the cooperation of these many institutions which stand squarely for the fundamentals of the Christian faith.”
History of the Good News Club Evangelical Mainstreaming
Early CEF Board Members
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The Good News Club: Endangering Children The Good News Club: Endangering Children Recovery Resources What You Can Do Contact Childhood Religious Trauma Documentaries Home page The Dark Gospel of the Wordless Book A review of Good News Club's lesson materials Milieu control History, growth, and mainstreaming of Child Evangelism Fellowship CEF's public school emphasis A review of equal access, child abuse statutes, facility use policies, and civil remedies