Katherine Stewart, journalist and author of The Good News Club, has been warning that there is an effort to include extreme, fundamentalist Christian indoctrination in American schools. In the May 30, 2012, issue of The Guardian, she noted that one of the after-school Biblical studies to be taught to over 100,000 American schoolchildren is the story of Saul and the Amalekites:
In the book of 1 Samuel (15:3), God said to Saul:
"Now go, attack the Amalekites, and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys."
Saul dutifully exterminated the women, the children, the babies and all of the men – but then he spared the king. He also saved some of the tastier looking calves and lambs. God was furious with him for his failure to finish the job.
The story of the Amalekites has been used to justify genocide throughout the ages.[...]
This fall, more than 100,000 American public school children, ranging in age from four to 12, are scheduled to receive instruction in the lessons of Saul and the Amalekites in the comfort of their own public school classrooms. The instruction, which features in the second week of a weekly "Bible study" course, will come from the Good News Club, an after-school program sponsored by a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). The aim of the CEF is to convert young children to a fundamentalist form of the Christian faith and recruit their peers to the club.
Ana Kasparian and Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks commented on this story, noting that it calls into question what can be taught in after-school programs and what the Bible is about.
"I always say, read the Bible," Uygur remarked, "and if you read this and say, 'Oh, yeah, you know what, God is awesome because He wanted you to wipe out that entire race, including their fricking donkeys' … okay, all right. And I know everybody's got a lot of excuses — 'Oh no, that's in the Old Testament, the New Testament takes out the Old Testament except for Genesis and the Garden of Eden and except for all the parts that we like and except for hating the gays.'"
Stewart, in her article published at The Guardian, notes that the teaching materials emphasize absolute obedience to God and that non-believers deserved punishment:
The Amalekites had heard about Israel's true and living God many years before, but they refused to believe in him. The Amalekites refused to believe in God and God had promised punishment.