Awana Abandons Its First Love for ‘Woke Religion’

There’s been no shortage of parachurch ministries that have gone ‘woke’ in the last several years. Most notably, organizations for young adults like Cru (formerly Campus Crusades for Christ) and InterVarsity have traded the real Gospel for the Popularity Gospel. But agonizingly, the leftists have even set their eyes on children. Awana is the latest organization to abandon its first love for ‘woke religion.’

AWANA was founded in 1941 and its name is an acronym for “approved workmen are not ashamed,” taken from 2 Timothy 2:15. With its central focus being the memorization of Scripture verses and a rewards system with badges, swag, and “Awana cash” to purchase toys and candy from the club’s store, Awana has grown to the largest children’s ministry in the world and is in 61 thousand churches in more than 120 nations.

Awana, in fact, has been used in my own church for over a decade. But no more.

It’s hard to mess up a mission as simple as teaching kids Scripture memorization. The mission is so pure and simple it’s hard to go wrong. Like the Gideons, who give out Bibles, or Wycliffe, which translates Scripture, one wonders how it could possibly be messed up. How can these simple missions become controversial?

Well, in the plainest of terms, Woke Religion ruins everything. And I do mean, everything.

Awana first got people’s attention when it tweeted out a pandering, virtue-signaling and entirely unnecessary Facebook post about a topic irrelevant to their mission (see below).

The post from Awana made some broad assumptions about several of the Woke Religion’s sacred martyrs, including the names of both Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin. In both cases, the “victims” were determined by courts and juries to be the victimizers. Trayvon Martin used the sidewalk as a weapon, as he bashed in George Zimmerman’s head into it, earning himself a taste of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Michael Brown was a violent criminal who was attacking police officers.

Why would Awana not accept the decision of courts and juries? Why would Awana side against law enforcement when fair trials didn’t not convict them? Why would Awana lump all of the names of dead black people together – most, but not all of whom, died committing criminal acts – and presume they were killed by “racist roots” in our culture?

For Awana, it seems that all that is required to prove “racism” in these incidents is that a black person lay dead, irrespective of how they got there.

But then, just a few days later, Awana forgot that 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 was one of their memory verses and threatened to sue the Christians over at Babylon Bee. What was the offense that would cause one Christian organization to threaten a lawsuit against another? The Babylon Bee posted a clearly photoshopped and satirical image depicting President Donald Trump in an Awana vest.

Awana didn’t want any association with the Commander in Chief, even if it was clearly satirical. Not only did Awana prove themselves to be without a sense of humor, but their freak-out over President Trump donning a Sparkies vest betrayed their political leanings. They acted as though it was Adolf Hitler who was wearing their colors.

Later, Awana told the Christian Post they weren’t planning to pursue a lawsuit. Apparently, the legal threat was just idle intimidation.

But a closer look at Awana’s material demonstrates that they’ve been on the Woke Religion bandwagon for some time.

In 2019, Awana posted an article on “How to talk with your kids about racial equality.” Unsurprisingly, it lauded Dr. Martin Luther King as a role model for kids, despite the fact he was a whoremongering Communist, sex-trafficker, and serial adulterer (not to mention he denied the deity of Christ and inspiration of Scripture).

The article then makes some claims about the United States that are dubious at best and not substantiated by empirical data…

Racism is alive and well in the United States of America. All too often this evil takes the form of hate and violence, but more often racism is invisible, undergirding social inequalities all the way to our foundations. From income levels to education, to housing, to health care, to our justice system, whether you are white, brown, or black can significantly impact your access, power, and privilege.

Awana’s article mirrors the language of Critical Race Theory, alleging that racism is “invisible” and can’t be documented or quantified but still ever-so-present in things called “micro-aggressions.”

Awana’s article presumes matter-of-factly that racism is the reason for disparities in education, housing, health care, and presumably incarceration. No attempt was made whatsoever to take into consideration that lots of variables factor in well before racism including general godlessness, illegitimate births, fatherlessness, and social programs that reward laziness rather than work ethic. No, sir. For Awana, the cause of these disparities is a secret, unobservable, invisible “racism.”

Awana provides for us a demonstration of what Woke Religion does; it steals the profoundly simple mission of the church – making disciples and spreading the Gospel – and replaces it with leftist political rhetoric cloaked in a clerical collar. Woke Religion creates such unbelievable mission drift in the organizations that embrace it that in short order they rarely stay on target and keep to the tasks originally set before them.

If your church is planning on doing Awana this Fall, parents and church leaders need to very carefully comb through their material to find and mark the very subtle aspects of Woke Religion propaganda that will no doubt be hidden there.