There’s a really deceptive way some evangelical Christian groups proselytize to public school students. They are well aware they can’t just waltz into a school and tell kids about Jesus, so they enter the school under false pretenses — like saying they’re going to give a purely secular presentation. And instead of preaching then and there, they invite the kids to a different presentation. One that takes place outside of school hours. With pizza! And that presentation concludes the bait and switch.
While an assembly that includes Christian preaching would obviously be illegal in a public school, allowing those groups to advertise their religious out-of-school events is equally problematic. It’s no different than a guest lecturer handing out flyers for church services during English class.
That’s why the Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling out some Texas schools that allowed the advertising to take place.
FFRF says that Go Tell Ministries was invited to Glenda Dawson High School in Pearland — and several other schools — to deliver a secular message. (Why anyone would invite a Christian ministry to deliver a secular message, I have no idea. Talk about a Trojan Horse…)
While the in-school assemblies focused on secular inspirational messaging, the evangelical group was permitted to heavily promote its April 8 evangelical event, the “Bay Area Go Tell Crusade,” which it deceptively described to students as a “pizza night.” District employees apparently helped Go Tell Ministries distribute tickets for the religious event to students.
“It is well settled that public schools may not advance or promote religion,” FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover writes to Superintendent John Kelly. “In United States v. Lee, the Supreme Court extended the prohibition of school-sponsored religious activities beyond the classroom to all school functions, holding prayers at public high school graduations an impermissible establishment of religion. Thus, promotion of Go Tell Ministries’ ‘crusade’ event as part of an in-school assembly violates the Establishment Clause.”
As with so many of these cases, Christians would flip out if a Muslim group did anything like this. It’s telling that so many Christian adults in these schools were willing participants in this whole charade. It needs to stop, and FFRF is demanding both an apology and assurances that it’ll never happen again.