How evangelicals are making children their missionaries in public schools

I saw this article on Diaspora today and decided to share it here.  This is not news to most of us in the south who often see the 'Flag Pole Prayer Events,' but it is high time we paid more attention to the problem.


Katherine Stewart, Tuesday 25 September 2012 12.07 ED

Adults can't proselytise in schools – but kids can. Hence a new scam by fundamentalists to circumvent church-state separation

When he was 15, Jim ran drugs for a cult group. When I first heard his story, I was shocked – not just that the group was running drugs, but that they had directed one of their youngest recruits to do the dirty work for them. Then I learned why it made sense in a technical sort of way: the cult leaders reasoned that the older members, if caught, would face serious sentences and lifetime records, whereas the kids could get away with an unpleasant but not life-altering juvenile detention. It was a matter of using kids to do what the grown-ups didn't want to risk doing themselves.

In a tactical sense, religious fundamentalists in America appear to have taken a page from the same book. The constitution and the law prohibits adults from, say, establishing ministries within public schools aimed at proselytizing to the children during school hours. But a growing number of religious activists have come to realize that it's technically legal if they get the kids to do their work for them. OK, so religious proselytizing is not the same thing as running drugs – but manipulating kids to exploit legal loopholes isn't pretty wherever it happens.

Read the rest of the story here:

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Yeah - aren't you glad you did just that booklover!

I actually knew a progressive woman who was homeschooling her son; she had mentioned that families like theirs were a distinct minority in the local homeschooling association, among all the Christian fundamentalists.

Anyway, the article points out that many fundamentalists have no qualms about undermining secular public schools:

The goal of such initiatives, quite clearly, is to normalize the idea that public schools should be venues for religious activity....

... largely what they seek are special privileges for their religion alone.... Mainline Christian denominations, to give just one example, are largely excluded....

Such mixing of church and school is sure to cause conflict and division – especially among parents who are not represented by the school-churches.... But the groups involved in these efforts won't be deterred by that division. In fact, many of them welcome it. Many fundamentalists simply do not accept public schools as legitimate enterprises in the first place. They see public education as secular education, and therefore intrinsically hostile to their religion.

At their core, they do not accept that we live in a diverse society with a secular form of government. If their activities degrade support for the public schools or even destroy them, they will not be sorry to see them go.

No kidding! I just wrote FFRF because one of the churches here keeps sending their pastors to the county commissioner's meetings, they're trying to freaking legislate from the pulpit constantly around here. Just last year the Mayor tried to send people who were offended by prayer, out of the meeting to wait until the prayers were over!!! WTF? Anyhoo... that's my town... ain't it grand!

Hi from Texas. The state where Satan is responsible for the Separation of Church and State. -- Rick Perry

Also WTF is spiritual warfare?

LOL Michael, they think that they can pray 'to spirit, in spirit' and affect change... they actually have this whole 'Christian Soldiers/Spirit Warriors' vision questy thingie goin' on... it's a, gay bashin', woman hatin', fundie flag wavin', good time, where they wishful think the things they don't like away in the name of gawd! How quaint...

But what makes it dangerous, is that they honestly think that what they 'pray' for is made 'manifest' by gawd, so they set upon those things with zeal to see that they do become manifest in the real world. Scary mental....

This is exactly the case here in Terre Haute, Indiana.  The recent flag pole to-do at one school was moved due to rain.  From the flag pole to the main entrance.  One of the children interviewed stated that it was great to be able to minister to children as they entered the school.  This forces children to be exposed to that - either go into school through a prayer crowd, walk 5 minutes through the rain to another entrance, or break rules.  While the speech and the activity are constitutionally protected, I challenge that by allowing the activity to take place at the main entrance, school officials were negligent in that they failed to maintain a neutral environment.  No other club would be allowed to conduct a gathering in a place where every student would have to pass through.

Wow, there is no excuse for that behavior. One wonders if they would allow a group of neo-pagan children to gather for a prayer to the goddess in the same doorway? I highly doubt it, perhaps it should be tested...

There's a word for an arrangement like that: it's called a GAUNTLET.

Hello, FFRF?  We got another one for you....

The "Every Student Every School" website indicates that one of the ways to adopt a school is simply to pray for them. The fundamentalists' activities are of concern because they go far beyond talking to themselves.



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