My Conversation With an Evangelical Pastor and Good News Club Leader About Damning Kids to Hell

Justin Likens is the senior pastor for Westlake Baptist Church in Moneta, VA. Aside from his work at the church, he is also the teacher at the Word of Truth Bible Institute (which doesn’t seem to be an actual school, but rather a weekly class at the church’s fellowship hall), described on the church’s website as a “three year intensive study of the Bible and its major doctrines.”  Mr. Likens also happens to be a leader for his local Good News Club.  I found this out when I saw a tweet from him yesterday.

If you know anything about me and my activism, you know I’m not going to let that go unanswered.

Surprisingly, Justin responded. Unsurprisingly, he attempted to defend the Good News Club and its message.


Justin didn’t respond after that. Read into that however you want.  Either he didn’t want to argue about the Good News Club’s message any longer, or he didn’t want to dig a hole he couldn’t get out of, or maybe he started to realize the Good News Club is threatening kids and didn’t have a defense for that.  It surely wasn’t because he left Twitter, since he tweeted scripture an hour later.

Telling children they’re sinners, inherently flawed, and doomed to an eternal punishment (regardless of whether you call it hell or “separation”) is emotional abuse.  And I’m damn certain this tactic isn’t called out on Justin’s GNC permission slip, despite his claim of it being “honest.”

The Good News Club and its sponsoring churches do nothing but sell snake oil to little kids who are too naive to separate fact from fiction when delivered by an adult in their school, with an end game of growing their congregations and ultimately their income and community influence.  If it wasn’t for organizations like these, organized religion would be on a steeper decline that it already is, resulting in better education and social & scientific progress.  The uber-religious will always hold us back unless we stand up, speak out, and bring awareness to the abuses they’ve been getting away with for centuries.

Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and author of Understanding an Atheist. He is known for local and national secular activism and has spoken at conferences and events such as Reason Rally 2016 and the Ark Encounter Protest and Rally.

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15 thoughts on “My Conversation With an Evangelical Pastor and Good News Club Leader About Damning Kids to Hell

  1. IIRC from reading Kathering Stewart’s book about GNC a couple of years ago, don’t they also teach some kind of weird authoritarianism? Like, leaders are chosen by god and kids have to follow w/out question (hello abuse!). That, and they cause strife with other kids because they are taught to harrang their ‘unsaved’ schoolmates.

    1. Doesn’t that mean that their parents should be strong supporters of President Obama? Oh NOES, cognitive disconnect!!!

      1. They don’t claim that that was some sort of conspiracy driven by Satan? Of course, I doubt there is much of a way they will claim that Satan is influencing Trump’s election.

  2. I know this is probably small consolation; but I came to be an atheist at about age 8, because I saw through the nonsense being peddled in Sunday School.

    So…while I agree that it is damaging to children to indoctrinate them with this mindless message of hate, maybe some kids will see through the baloney and come out the other side as atheists.

    Worked for me.

    1. Meanwhile, they are turning our public schools into ideological battlegrounds where our children and their fragile feelings are the casualties.

  3. They are lying liars. The told my 1st grader it’s a party with snacks and treats and he cried when I said no. I told him why but he was still upset that his friends might go without him. It’s the only club in the school available to students under grade 3. And they kill the freaking pick-up circle in the afternoons. Bloody parasites.

    1. That’s horrible. My oldest is in kindergarten. His elementary school next year does not have a GNC but another school in the district does, so it’s only a matter of time. I plan to be on a first name basis with the superintendent and principal.

        1. No thanks. I’m the Executive Director of Young Skeptics, an afterschool program that teaches critical thinking. I’m not big on the ST’s tactics in this arena. We ran our pilot group last year and are in the midst of national expansion. Check us out.

  4. Thank you for standing up for the kids in this! I was one of those terrible, no good, atheist kids and got told that I was going to Hell pretty consistently by classmates and their parents. Teachers refrained from doing so, but many of them only barely. I was lucky in that I had parents who told me that was ridiculous and cruel, and I’d not been raised within the tradition, so I didn’t believe it, but it was really infuriating.

    …and that was well before GNC was in the picture.

  5. Did they ever come back with a response?

    ISTM a good idea would be a standard explanation of the GNC actions/positions in case the school tries to promote it to parents. It could be added to any newsletter etc.

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