Ministry Purposely Lied to Get Access to Public School Children

From the Minnesota Monitor, a Christian ministry called “When You Can Run But You Cannot Hide” has been doing anything it can to get in front of a group of public school students, at which point they unleash condemnations on homosexuality and evolution.

A lot of administrators haven’t caught on and continue inviting the group to speak to their schools:

[Group founder Bradlee] Dean’s ministry may not believe in the separation of church and state, but they seem well aware that public school administrators do. And they have repeatedly run afoul of school officials and students in recent years for promising to run a program on abstinence and drug abuse, and mentioning God only when in front of students. And by doing so, they’ve been able to earn thousands of dollars per event from public schools that later express surprise about the group’s brand of hardline Christianity.

In addition to gloating about the 100,000+ religious tracts his group has passed out in public high schools, Dean also made this comment at a recent ministry fundraiser:

His speech compared the teaching of evolution to the ideology of Hitler, claimed that drugs to treat depression and ADD were “more potent than cocaine” and called the pope “a devil disguised as a minister of righteousness.”

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, the guy who refused to remove the Ten Commandments monument from his state courthouse, was a speaker at the fundraiser.

What’s the reaction like after they perform their duplicitous show?

Here’s one principal who made the mistake of inviting them and now regrets it:

“They had a captive audience for their message, and that wasn’t right,” said Benton Principal Gary Neis… Neis later would call an assembly to apologize to students for the group’s decision to stray into religion.

“They talked about influencing and brainwashing people. Be wise to the fact that is what they were doing. They were using the same tactics,” Neis told the students.

Another principal:

According to the [Tennessee] Oak Ridger, “[Roane County High School] Principal Jody McLoud apologized for any controversy or heartache the assembly generated. In addition to homosexuality, race and obesity, the materials reportedly also included such topics as suicide, drugs and premarital sex.”

“They encouraged bigotry and hate-mongering toward children that may not share their religious beliefs or who are struggling to find an identity or self-esteem,” said Laura Dailey, a parent of a Roane County High student… The school district was forced to deal with the controversy by reiterating its policy that “forbids religious statements in schools.”

Just to clarify, students can be religious all they want. They just can’t have religion forced upon them by an authority figure.

Yet another principal:

“I can tell you, I wasn’t happy.” [one unnamed principal] said, according to the Pantagraph. “I’m extremely disappointed,” he told the students. “Not in you, but that I allowed this.”

He added, “I felt like the kids got cheated.”

And, what the heck, here’s one more person who sat through their presentation:

“It seemed like total propaganda. It was like a cult. They were trying to get kids who can’t think for themselves to think like them,” said Amy Deitcher, then a high school junior, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

According to Deitcher, girls and boys were segregated during the presentation, and the girls were “presented with a ‘treasure chest’ theory in which they were told that any sort of physical contact with a man before marriage would result in a woman becoming ‘leftovers’ for her husband.

How much taxpayer money does the group get for this seminar on Christian fundamentalism?

In 2005, they were “paid $2500 to perform for three school districts.”

Reporter Jeff Fecke concludes with these wonderfully-worded paragraphs:

While Dean and his followers may not believe in the separation of church and state, the vast majority of Americans, including the vast majority of American Christians, do. We may not always agree on where the line should be drawn, but most of us agree that we don’t want our schools pushing a religious message; as parents, that’s our responsibility, in accord with our own religious views and our church, if we have one.

That’s not just to protect a small minority of liberal atheists, either. While Dean feels he is justified in using public money to bring the gospel into the school, he may be forgetting that when the public pays your bills, it gets get a veto on your message.

(Thanks to Bjorn for the link!)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Christian, fundamentalist, homosexuality, Jesus[/tags]

  • PrimateInRepose

    Wow! This has made me angrier than anything I’ve seen in a long time. It seems to me that you have a case for fraud here.

  • Kate

    Go after the group…AND the principals. Shame on them for not doing a sufficiently thorough check before letting a group into the school. I hope these parents are outraged.

  • http://aboutkitty.blogspot.com/ Cat’s Staff

    There is a solution in our society…unfortunately, school districts need to start getting sued. Apologizing after the fact is nice, but it doesn’t protect them. That’s what the Dover trial was about. It said to schools “Teach ID as science and you will get sued for millions of dollars”. If I were a company insuring schools I’d send out a message saying “if you allow this group to give a presentation in your school, we might not cover the tab when a parent sues.” It would be nice to see a parent sue for a symbolic $1000, just to make sure other school districts see that there is a precedent for consequences.

  • Karen

    That’s disgusting. I hope they do get their asses sued and their ministry goes bankrupt as a result.

    I have to wonder why the principals didn’t shut these programs down as soon as the hate-mongering began and it was obvious that the message violated the law. I would have cut this guy’s mike, and stopped payment on his check!

  • Maria

    this is insane. that group needs to be stopped

  • http://atheistrevolution.blogspot.com/ vjack

    And why does it always seem like it falls on we few atheists to do something about this sort of idiocy? Where are the so-called moderate Christians on this one? Is it that they see no problem with spreading hate among their children or that they are so terrified of questioning religion that they stay silent?

  • LeAnn

    As a “moderate” Christian middle school teacher, I have to say that I am outraged as well as you about this group. There is no place for this type of group to be in a school giving a presentation about such things. It is one thing to have an opinion about something…it is completely different to “preach” that opinion to a group of captive children. And on top of that….why was this group allowed to give a presentation to groups of students without a teacher or administrator being present? Whenever we have assemblies at my school, there are always teachers and administrators present. If this group had been presenting in my school, I would have asked them to stop or at least called the administrators to have them stop. This is completely outrageous.

  • Maria

    As a “moderate” Christian middle school teacher, I have to say that I am outraged as well as you about this group. There is no place for this type of group to be in a school giving a presentation about such things. It is one thing to have an opinion about something…it is completely different to “preach” that opinion to a group of captive children. And on top of that….why was this group allowed to give a presentation to groups of students without a teacher or administrator being present? Whenever we have assemblies at my school, there are always teachers and administrators present. If this group had been presenting in my school, I would have asked them to stop or at least called the administrators to have them stop. This is completely outrageous.

    I agree. Please encourage others like you to speak out and do something about it

  • Denise

    In response to vjack, like LeAnn, I too seek to follow Christ’s example, though I would identify myself politically as left-leaning more than moderate on most issues. Unlike many folks who claim the name Christian, I strongly support the US constitution’s establishment clause, as do most of my friends and many of those with whom I worship.

    This group is worse than an embarassment to the tradition. As if Christ would’ve wanted anyone to be decietful in an attempt to speak to an audience that was not completely free to walk away! Since I’m awake, I will attempt to admonish this bunch with another post, if a google search turns anything up. I’m not activist enough to put pen to paper. Not that either would do any good. I hope they don’t require an email; that will stop me in my tracks. I’ve dealt with enough religious legalists to know better than to argue with one and leave a trail. It chaps my hide to no end the extent to which they have dominated folks’ view of the Christian tradition. To say nothing of the way they tormented Christ when he was here.

    One question I do have for atheists is, whence the calls for outrage and punitive economic measures? It is rude, ineffective, stupid and dishonest for a religious group to behave in such a fashion. It is naive, sloppy and (judging from the calls for swift lawsuits -presumably or specifically against the public schools), dangerous for school adminstrators to not identify this for what it was, and act accordingly.

    But if diligent clear thinking will rightly lead an intelligent person to non-theism, what is the danger in this dude’s talking to a gymnasium full of people? You know, give a fool enough rope and all that. I have a 3-year-old; youth doesn’t make one incapable of diligent clear thinking. And if it’s the less intelligent members of the crowd you’re concerned for, they will surely get a more compelling bit of persuasion elsewhere.

    If it’s coercion that is outrageous, the information presented here (which is all I know of the matter) doesn’t indicate that the doors were locked and students who wished to leave forbidden to do so. It’s one thing for a school administrator to be duped into giving a fool a stage, panic when she realizes she’s made a mistake that is likely to invite litigation or workplace discipline and not think to unplug a mike. It’s another thing entirely to refuse a person’s request to exit the whole nasty presentation. If I were the parent of a student who wanted to stop listening to this fool and was forbidden, I’d be having at least a really tense conversation with the person holding the keys.

    If it’s disrespect for those who hold a non-theistic position that is outrageous, several of the school personnel responsible for being hoodwinked by this group have expressed regret and embarassment over the incident and offered an apology.

    If it’s the waste of taxpayer money, well this is clearly neither the largest nor the most egregious example one could find. Although, I do begrudge them the 2500 bucks. Hopefully the school districts have taken measures to recover the funds. If not, they should.

    I expect I’m missing something obvious here, as I am still choosing to place my faith in one of the theistic traditions and had to completely drop a college logic course when I found both the instructor and the text bewildering. Plus it’s late, even though insomnia is my boon companion. I will check back to see what it is.

    Peace to you all.

  • Denise

    Well, their website is down. Hopefully it means they’ve gone bankrupt!

  • Mriana

    Just another reason why we can’t trust Fundamgelicals.

    BTW, I am not including the moderates and liberals, but the Religious Reich.


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