Last week a controversy erupted near where I live after the Michigan Association of Civil Rights Activists sent a letter to two schools demanding that they stop allowing a local pastor to come in during lunches and proselytize the students in a classroom. Both schools immediately agreed to end the practice (for now; stay tuned once the rubes get fired up over it).
Kahle said he became aware of the alleged violations after receiving complaints from parents at both middle schools and has had preliminary discussions with legal counsel.
“We hope that there’s no reason to get attorneys involved, but that’s completely up to the schools,” he said. “If we receive assurance from the superintendents that this practice has stopped and will not continue, then litigation will not be necessary.”
Kahle got that assurance late Thursday, when he received email responses from both Konarska and Szymoniak stating that they planned to suspend the practice of having the pastor visit during school hours.
“What we’re going to do is, he is going to move the program to either before or after school,” Szymoniak said. “He’ll pay a facility fee and he can use our facility just like any other community organization.”
So far, so good. Much more interesting to me is that the Pastor Russ Gabel of Freewater Experience ministries flat out lied about the situation:
Gabel said it’s the 230 students who attend his club each week who will lose out if his visits are prohibited.
The Grand Haven resident said he used to say prayers at the gatherings and his Facebook page talks about praying in the schools.
“We don’t have faith-based content,” Gabel said. “We don’t read Bible verses. We don’t pray at the clubs. We are very conscious to not cross lines. We teach character and challenge the kids to serve and make a difference in the world around them.”
Gabel denied handing out candy in hallways to lure children into the classroom gatherings, as Kahle asserts.
“No, that makes me the creepy, candy guy,” Gabel said. “The candy is prizes we give away in the club itself. It’s been a really powerful club. This is something very near and dear to me. I want to help create good kids.”
I just got home from our first day of Freewater Club at White Pines Middle School, and I was SO EXCITED, I just had to tell you guys how it went!!!
In A lunch, we had 23 kids, with only a few empty seats in the classroom. We played trivia games, did some skits, I told a story, and we ended the meeting with a quick prayer…that’s right…A PRAYER The kids had a blast, and I think it will keep growing after spring break.
In B lunch, I had…zero kids. I’m not sure what happened here, but I had to choose one of two hallways to stand in to remind kids. I think I chose the wrong one Many kids that I know from our lunchroom ministry are in the other hallway, so I’ll try that next time around. I am not easily discouraged.
In C lunch, we had 27 kids, and packed the room that we met in. We did the same stuff as A-lunch, and the kids said that had an awesome time. I think we’re going to outgrow this room in no time.
We had full-blow youth group style meeting with games, a lesson, and prayer…FOR 50 KIDS IN SCHOOL TODAY!
I am beyond excited about this. I’m going to start developing a team of people to do these meetings with me, and keep growing them. Praise God for an awesome Freewater Club kick-off!!!
So when he’s talking to his followers, he’s incredibly excited about holding a youth group style meeting with kids in school, including prayer — in all capital letters, he’s so damn excited! When he’s talking to the newspaper, he lies and claims it’s not at all a religious meeting and there was no prayer. But he’s lying for Jesus, so it’s all okay.