Ohio Mentoring Plan Requires Religion in Schools

Gov. John Kasich of Ohio announced a $10 million program to put mentors in schools for at-risk students and said nothing at all about religion, but it has now been revealed in the implementation of the program that a student can’t get the mentoring unless a religious group is involved.

Gov. John Kasich’s $10 million plan to bring mentors into Ohio’s schools for students now has a surprise religious requirement – one that goes beyond what is spelled out in the legislation authorizing it.

Any school district that wants a piece of that state money must partner with both a church and a business – or a faith-based organization and a non-profit set up by a business to do community service.

No business and no faith-based partner means no state dollars.

“You must include a faith-based partner,” United Way of Greater Cleveland President Bill Kitson, told potential applicants at an information session the United Way hosted Thursday here in Cleveland.

Kitson sits on Kasich’s advisory panel for the program, called “Community Connectors,” which is taking applications for grants now.

Buddy Harris, a senior policy analyst for the Ohio Department of Education, told the gathering of church and non-profit representatives that each application must include a school district (or charter school) plus a business and a place of worship or faith-based organization in its partnership.

Other non-profits can be involved, he said, only if they involve all three of the other groups. Partnerships between just schools, business and a community non-profit won’t qualify.

“The faith-based organization is clearly at the heart of the vision of the governor,” Harris said after the session.

Kasich can’t seriously think this is legal, can he? There isn’t a chance in hell this survives a legal challenge. And it’s absurd on its face, based on the ridiculous idea that in order to be a good mentor you have to be religious.

"We're slipping in the polls. Time to kills some foreigners in their own homes."

Republicans Refuse to Defend Trump on ..."
"Issuing trading stamps?! I'd like to know the story behind that one.Raise your hand if ..."

USCIRF Releases Report on Blasphemy Laws
"It wasn't completely meaningless. We're not exclusively talking about how Trump loves Nazis. So Mission ..."

Trump’s Meaningless ‘Shift’ in Afghanistan Policy
Follow Us!
POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Sastra

    It would be interesting to ask Kasich and other supporters of this program a question: if you could choose between having an at-risk student become well-behaved and successful in school but atheist — or an at-risk student still getting into trouble but Christian — which would you choose?

    And no, you don’t get to mix up the criteria and change the topic, Mr. Politician-Apologist.

  • dingojack

    Does Ohio have a chapter of The Temple of Satan?

    Dingo

  • http://composer99.blogspot.ca composer99

    Ought not the mentors be assigned according to the needs of/preferences of the student, rather than whether they happen to be from a for-profit business or religious organisation?

  • raven

    There is a huge amount wrong with this plan.

    1. A lot of ministers, priests, and pastors are pedophiles and/or sexual predators. The cliche that the “Youth Pastor” likes young children is a cliche for good reason. It is most common in cults with authoritarian style organization, i.e. Catholics, Mormons, JW’s, fundies.

    It is a matter of time before this happens in that program.

    2. They say that they “won’t prosyletize”. That is we know already, a lie. That is what they do. That is all they know how to do. That is what they will do!!!

    3. It assumes religion is a positive force in society and faith is a virture. Both demonstrably wrong. Faith isn’t a virtue. Faith flies planes into skyscrapers and leads to warped minds like Michele Bachmann, Bryan Fischer, Dick Cheney, and governor Kasich.

    4. The legality here is dubious. That is the least of this programs problems.

    If I was a school district head, I’d take one look at it and pass like it was an IED waiting to explode.

  • Michael Heath

    composer99 writes:

    Ought not the mentors be assigned according to the needs of/preferences of the student, rather than whether they happen to be from a for-profit business or religious organisation?

    I’m skeptical that a credible and constitutional argument exists where the needs of a student justifies a religious organization mentoring them; that’s paid for by taxpayers.

  • Sastra

    raven #4 wrote:

    They say that they “won’t prosyletize”. That is we know already, a lie. That is what they do. That is all they know how to do. That is what they will do!!!

    Even if they don’t openly prosyletize, the more moderate and liberal faith-based communities are masters at what I call passive-aggressive conversion techniques, where you act as a benevolent, happy role model which the needy children will hopefully want to follow in order to be more like you. Then the kids find Christ themselves.

    The faithful kid themselves that this isn’t prosyletizing. It’s not explicit and there’s no coercion or telling anyone their beliefs are wrong. You might not even mention religion — except in passing or if they bring it up and ask questions and then nothing but sweetness, light, acceptance, tolerance. and love. The religion is love — do you need anything like that in your life? It’s passive … but carefully practiced within a controlled context where it’s likely to be very effective. Passive-aggressive, in other words.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Thank God people will finally have somewhere to go to get religious advice.

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    It doesn’t matter whether it’s legal or not. It’s a winner for Kasich and the fundies no matter what happens. Kasich gets credit with the fundies for doing something to inject religion into schools. If it is successfully challenged then he and the fundies get martyr points.

  • wscott

    The whole “faith-based organization” terminology is just a barely-veiled attempt to exclude secular charities from the table. It used to be that religion had a near-monopoly on charitable works, and let’s be honest, they still account for probably 90% of charities. But apparantly admitting that secular 10% even exists is too much of a threat, so they change the terminology to talk about being faith-based. It’s ,almost like they care more about marketing their religion than they do actually helping people.

  • wscott

    @ Sastra #6: I actually don’t have a problem with that sort of “prosletyzing by example.” Honestly, I wish more secular organizations would do more of that.

  • raven

    they still account for probably 90% of charities.

    That 90% looks way too high to me.

    In my area the main charities that actually do anything worthwhile are the food banks which distribute millions of pounds of food every year, the homeless shelters for a growing street population, and shelters for abused women and children. All secular.

    The chuches do something amazingly enough. They run a soup kitchen to feed the homeless that is reasonably popular.

  • eric

    “The faith-based organization is clearly at the heart of the vision of the governor,” Harris said after the session

    The phrase ‘won’t somebody think of the children’ gets used as hyperbole a lot, but here it’s actually valid. Shouldn’t the kids who need mentoring be at the heart of the vision of the governor?

  • eric

    It used to be that religion had a near-monopoly on charitable works, and let’s be honest, they still account for probably 90% of charities.

    Is that number meaningful though? Googling the largest charities in the US, it looks like four of the top five are bascially secular/nonreligious (the five are: United Way, Salvation Army, Feeding America, Task for Global Health, and the Red Cross. Of those five, only the Salvation Army is explicitly religous, though some of the others may have started out religious in nature). If you go out to the top 10, it looks like 7/10 are secular/nonreligious.

    I’m not sure because someone would have to total up the contributions of the many smaller charities and compare that to the big ones, but there may be a good case to be made that most of the ‘dollars used to help people’ are not coming from explicitly religous or religion-motivated charities, but rather charities that don’t have anything much to do with religion the way or the other.

  • Sastra

    wscott #10 wrote:

    @ Sastra #6: I actually don’t have a problem with that sort of “prosletyzing by example.” Honestly, I wish more secular organizations would do more of that.

    Within the context of a mentoring program for at-risk children set up exclusively for faith-based organizations, the ‘prosylitizing by example” is still a clear attempt to convert a receptive, captive audience of other people’s children (or impressionable teenagers.)

    Beyond that I still do have a problem because religious beliefs are fact claims which ought to be weighed and analyzed on their own merit, not adopted as part of a package deal involving warm fuzzies and values which aren’t inherently connected to the dubious metaphysics — or the idea that a failure to believe in God is a problem.

    A secular organization of atheists doing charity work are I hope only attempting to help others while destigmatizing atheists and atheism, not gathering converts who want to reject the existence of God in order to be nice and happy like atheists are.

    There’s a significant difference between rational persuasion and passive-aggressive conversion. I like to illustrate the distinction by using something nonreligious, like ‘global warming.’ If you were trying to rationally persuade a group of students that global warming was taking place, you’d be polite and friendly but rely on a power-point presentation which defined the difference between climate and weather, described what climatologists do, and walked through the many lines of evidence leading to the current consensus. If students come up with objections, they are addressed and answered.

    If you were trying to use passive-aggressive conversion for the same topic, you’d encourage the students to talk about what they loved to do in nature and then tell your own story, about how when you heard about global warming you loved nature so much you wanted to protect Her. Your power-point presentation would contain photos of cuddly polar bears and seals who are going to die. If students come up with objections, you’d reassure them that they have the right to believe whatever they want, you’re not forcing your view on anyone, you’re just telling your story. When the heart is ready it opens, so it’s okay if they make a different choice.

    Aggressive conversion would just announce that global warming is true and if you say you don’t believe it then you must hate Nature. It’s actually the same as the first way, just more obvious. Note how in ‘conversion’ it’s easy to change the position to a denial of global warming simply by flipping the claim. It’s all comes down to faith and what kind of person you’re going to choose to be.

    Rational persuasion would require a total rewrite. Facts matter more than the role model.

  • vereverum

    Are there any Mosques in Ohio?

  • colnago80

    Re raven @ #4

    I’m not sure we can blame religion for Dick Cheney. It is my information that he is not particularly religious.

  • LightningRose

    It’s like they’re double-dog-daring the ACLU to give them a good smack-down in court.

  • raven

    I’m not sure we can blame religion for Dick Cheney. It is my information that he is not particularly religious.

    Maybe.

    A lot of people think he is either a True Satanist or a demon from hell on surface duty.

    The fundie xian connection comes in because they elected him and his sockpuppet, George Bush, seemingly not caring that they wrecked the USA and killed a lot of people unnecessarily in Iraq.

  • http://www.facebook.com/den.wilson d.c.wilson

    Kasich can’t seriously think this is legal, can he? There isn’t a chance in hell this survives a legal challenge.

    But we all know that really depends on whether we get another republican on the SCOTUS before this makes its way through the appeals process.

  • Crimson Clupeidae

    Add another note to the list of reasons supporting the United Way is one of the worst ways to contribute to charity. It’s already a big scam, now add the religious angle, and it is even worse.