Public schools across the country are facing budget issues — good luck finding a teaching job for next year — and they’re looking for any way to cut costs without having to fire staff.
Out of desperation, they will also try to raise money in questionable ways.
Like this school in Florida:
When his budget for pencils, paper, and other essential supplies was cut by a third this school year, the principal of Combee Elementary School worried children would suffer.
Then, a local church stepped in and “adopted” the school. The First Baptist Church at the Mall stocked a resource room with $5,000 worth of supplies. It now caters spaghetti dinners at evening school events, buys sneakers for poor students, and sends in math and English tutors.
The principal is delighted. So are church pastors. “We have inroads into public schools that we had not had before,” says Pastor Dave McClamma. “By befriending the students, we have the opportunity to visit homes to talk to parents about Jesus Christ.”
Not. Even. Subtle.
This is the classic Christian bait-and-switch: become someone’s friend and use that relationship specifically to convert the other person.
This church is paying the school for new members.
While Combee gained resources, the church gained access to families. At Christmas, the school connected the church with parents who said they wouldn’t mind being visited at home by First Baptist. The church brought gifts, food and the gospel. Of about 30 families visited over two weekends in December, 13 “came to the Lord,” says Mr. McClamma, a 58-year-old motorcycle buff who drives a black sports-utility vehicle with the bumper sticker “Christ First.”
Mr. McClamma says adopting Combee goes far beyond providing resources like school supplies. “The purpose is to show them the church cares, and that there is hope, and hope is found in Jesus Christ.”
“If they want to come in and help, who am I to say no?” says Mr. Comparato, the principal.
He says he would welcome congregations of any faith as sponsors, but adds of his students, “My personal conviction is that I hope through this they’ll know Jesus and they’ll get saved.”
How is this principal still in his position? You think he’d have his job if Jesus were replaced with Allah in his comment?
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is threatening a lawsuit:
The entire situation is outrageous and shows why it’s so important that the government fully and adequately fund our public schools. Students from all different faith backgrounds attend public schools and need to feel welcome. While the church’s help may make things a bit easier financially, Comparato’s actions are blasting away at the religious liberty rights of all students, not to mention violating church-state separation.
It’s not Comparato’s business whether students and their families “get saved,” and no public school anywhere should be helping a church fill up its membership roll. Officials at Combee Elementary need to discontinue this arrangement now -– before a federal court makes them.
I hope that’s not just an empty threat. This is ridiculous.
That’s not even the only church/state violation taking place — here’s one in which the government is directly involved:
Short of funds to provide homeless services, the Florida Department of Children and Families recently gave nearly $260,000 to the First Baptist Church Leesburg, an hour from Orlando, to buy and renovate the old Big Bass Motel in Leesburg. The church will open it this month as a shelter for homeless families. Residents will be required to attend church, though it doesn’t have to be First Baptist, says Chester Wood, director of the inn.
Will a Humanist congregation count? I’d love to know.