In Madison, Wisconsin, a flyer was sent home with nearly 2,000 elementary school students that read: “Plant the Seeds of Faith in Jesus in Your Child at our Sunday school.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is, as usual, on top of things:
In response to Ginsberg’s complaint, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking the Madison district to change its policy and eliminate the distribution of non-school-related materials.
In a letter to Rainwater released Tuesday, Annie Laurie Gaylor of the foundation wrote: “The district should not act as a PR machine for non-school enterprises.”
FFRF has a request to make of you
No organization should benefit from free delivery of their advertisement at the expense of instructional or teacher preparation time.
Please send succinct and to the point e-mails or letters. Be firm but polite. We enjoy seeing your letters and responses, but for maximum effectiveness, write as an individual and send only “blind” copies of your e-mail to FFRF. Please use your name. “Local” taxpayers should identify themselves by mailing address as well. Thanks!
You can see a list of people to send your letters to over at You Made Me Say It.
Phillychief, at that site, sent the following letter to them — a good template for the rest of us!
To the attention of Madison Metropolitan School District and Members of the Madison, Wis. School Board
I have been following the news about the non school related flyers being distributed to homes via children who are students. I find this practice deeply disturbing on various levels, the worst of which is the exploitation of these children. These children, despite the fine print warnings on these flyers, simply are too young to know the difference between school related material and non school related material. These flyers with religious messages, confusing enough to a child not of that faith, come with the auspices of authority, school authority. Such confusion and influence goes well beyond the possible offense it may have to the parents or any adults at home who receive these flyers plus burdens them with having to address the confusions of the child carrying these loaded messages.
I understand there is an opt out policy for families but I question how well this is known amongst the parents. I also wonder if this opt out is all encompassing, meaning would the family not receive ANY flyers then, including valuable school related flyers? Furthermore, in a time of children’s lives where they are developing critical socialization skills, why would you want to create a situation that could potentially single out and ostracize them by being the ones not taking home flyers. Has it been so long that you’ve forgotten what it means to be different at such young ages?
There’s also an issue of only “appropriate” materials may be sent home with these kids. Who decides what’s “appropriate”? Any lawyer will tell you that having a subjective standard would invite criticism and undue problems. Judging by the media attention, the organizations now involved and the fact that sitting here almost 2,000 miles away I know about this and am forced to write to you expressing my distaste for this policy I think is a testament to the inherent problem with this policy and this arbitrary guideline of what’s “appropriate”.
Lastly, there’s a serious issue on how this policy unduly burdens the teachers and once again hurts the children because time that should be spent educating them is being wasted assembling these flyers, these potentially offensive flyers of propaganda.
So for the sake of the potential harm to the children through confusion, ostracizing, and robbing them of educational time, the potential burden placed on the families and the offense they may experience, and the potential (being realized now) of dealing with criticism and potential lawsuits, I urge you to abandon this policy of using children in the school district to distribute religious material or all non school related flyers.
I thank you for your time and careful consideration of the issue.
(via Deep Thoughts)