School Assembly Goes Off the Rails

Former Conservative ran across this story, and mentions that it hasn’t gotten enough attention. I agree, so here’s my part. From HuffPo Education:

Students and staff at a high school in Dunkerton, Ia., were shocked when an assembly intended to address drug and bullying issues instead featured anti-gay messages that offended many students, staff and parents, the Lacrosse Tribune reports.

“They told these kids that anyone who was gay was going to die at the age of 42,” parent Jennifer Littlefield told the Lacrosse Tribune. “It just blows me away that no one stopped this.”

The group also told students that girls who aren’t virgins at their weddings will have mud on their dresses, according to the paper.

I went to school in a little fly-speck town in North Carolina. I clearly remember the fledgling garage bands that would come through and do concerts in the gymnasium. Each one would pause in between covers of Van Halen and Bon Jovi to announce that they were Christian and hoped that we were to.

My guess is that the administration thought that this group would be more of the same. Someone didn’t do their homework:

Junkyard Prophet, the Minnesota-based traveling band that was brought to Dunkerton High School to discuss practices for good decision making, is part of the You Can Run But You Cannot Hide Christian youth ministry that holds assemblies in public schools.

[...]

Superintendent Jim Stanton told the Lacrosse Tribune that the group received good feedback when they performed at the school in the past, and that they must have changed their message since then.

Here’s a portion of the assembly, where they engage in some bashing of Sir Elton:

  • Custador

    I would very much like to punch that bigotted, hate-spewing bully in his head.

    • Jabster

      With a baseball bat I hope …

  • Mahousniper

    I always hated these conferences, though mine were generally just anti-drug stupidity. I hate when people just talk nonsense at me and can’t respond and have no choice in the matter.

    I don’t need life advice from a man who’s career aspirations were apparently high school motivational speaker.

    • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

      The inability to respond or be flexible bothered me as well. They have their message, which is usually incredibly simplistic, and they tend to have very little information to back it up. Our anti-drugs talks were generally pointless because the majority of students knew more about the drugs than those delivering the speech, and knew they were being lied to, which shut most of them off to any talk about the negative consequences. Fortunately we had one RE teacher who was smart enough to realise this and was willing to have a more frank discussion and admit that not everything about every drug was bad and deadly. This actually got the students engaged, but that wasn’t even her job. Those whose job it was to give us these kind of pep-talks just couldn’t communicate anything beyond their strict script and when asked probing questions would actually giggle uncomfortably and dismiss it with something like “I don’t know about that”.

      Sometimes these groups did manage to do something decent, though. I remember one traveling group (I believe they were secular) who put on shows about how terrible domestic violence is. I went into it presuming it was going to be more of the same “Don’t do it, even though you’re 17 and should know by now that hitting your spouse is not ok”. I figured it was going to be tired moralising from people who were pretending they were making a difference even though it was completely obvious that what they were saying to not do was something that people should not do, but actually they were more interested in discussing the reasons domestic violence happen, how common it is, and how often people fail to react to it out of a mixture of apathy, fear and a sense that it’s not their place to get involved. It actually got the students talking about the issue in more depth than “hitting is bad” and seemed to make them more thoughtful about their response and the culture of silence that had been built around the issue in many communities.

      • aishoka

        New handle, people, it’s “kholdom”. Anyway, I really wish I’d seen something like that at my school. My last three years of high school were spent trying desperately to make a relationship work with a young man whom I now realise was showing sociopathic tendencies. I wasn’t hit, but generally made to feel inadequate, (he kept cheating on me) whiny (my valid concerns about said cheating were trivialised) and selfish (how dare you leave me to go on exchange to Japan and do something smart for your future!). A presentation like that, even about physical abuse rather than emotional, would have been very welcome. I often wonder now how many teachers and others at schools see students in ill-informed, destructive relationships but cannot or do not take any action.

  • Bertrand T Russell

    It should be legal to shoot bigoted Conservative assholes………. in the ass, or the reproductive area!

    • FO

      It should not.

      • aishoka

        No, it should not… what on earth would that accomplish?

        • http://yaboiksar.com Yabo

          Well they wouldn’t be able to sit. Duh.

          =)

  • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

    Who calls their ministry “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide”? How incredibly sinister, especially when turning up in schools and getting children handed into their clutches.

    I remember when my Catholic school made a similar mistake that kind of blew up in their faces. They brought in a group to tell us about how important seat belts were, which was cute since it was after the year 2000 and everybody had been wearing them habitually for a decade because even my classmates were not complete morons. I am not sure what they hoped to achieve, but it was quite the surprise when their little play started with “So a seat-belt is a safety device, just like a condom…”

    They proceeded to demonstrate the use of the latter. Don’t think they were invited back for some reason…

    • Elemenope

      I think it’s the sentiment captured commonly enough in gospel songs like this one. Which, ironically enough, I’m only familiar with because of this. If I’m not completely mistaken, it’s a reference to Revelation 6:15-17, which is creepy enough. Which I only know the reference for because of this.

  • vasaroti

    Staff was shocked? Oh, puhleeze. It took exactly 27 seconds on YouTube to learn that they were assholes and a supremely bad band. Any teacher or administrator too stupid to check out what they’re buying should be fired. No, staff wanted to offend a portion of their students, and they chose to hide behind these morons.

    • Noelle

      sounds like they’d had them there before. I bet a lot of it was laziness and they just keep calling all the same people to come back in a rotation. Not everyone knows how to navigate Google and YouTube.

      • Elemenope

        Not everyone knows how to navigate Google and YouTube.

        And such people are frequently found in school administration. It is as though there is a rule, if you’re going to work with kids you have to be as excruciatingly out of touch as possible.

  • Noelle

    Huh. Well that certainly makes for a WTF just happened in assembly this afternoon moment. My elementary schools had visiting groups, but always for drugs or safety. My favorite was the assembly devoted to why you don’t get on a moving train, complete with pics of lots of kids without legs. I tell you what, I sure as hell never tried to get on a moving train after that, or before.

    My HS never had these. Our assemblies were pep rallies, or previews of plays and orchestra concerts. I liked the performing arts ones. Real nice way to break up the day.

    Take home message: don’t schedule groups with a religious focus to a public school.

  • Zinn

    There is a rich irony in this puritanical white bigot adopting the hip hop garb and mannerisms, that originated in the African American urban ghettos, to appeal to this Iowa demographic. Tuck in your two-sizes-too-big t-shirt and take your damn hat off when you’re indoors, punk!

    • T

      Well, it’s okay to be black, because you can’t help it after all. Of course you’d never CHOOSE it if you could help it. But being gay is a choice, man, and you better choose wisely.

      Ugh.

      • Addie

        Obviously! Who WOULDN’T choose to be a member of a marginalized group? Gosh, just this morning, I woke up and thought “Hey…there aren’t enough people who irrationally hate me. I bet I could fix that by becoming a lesbian!”

        So much hate towards people who have so much love…I will never understand it.

  • Sue Blue

    I think it’s extremely suspicious that school administrators only acted after they got complaints from kids and parents about the assembly later on. I think they knew very well that this was a Christian group out to push religious propaganda, billed it as an anti-drug, anti-bullying assembly so it could fly under the 1st Amendment radar, and only got worried when they realized that someone might call them on it. Really, how in the hell can this be at all legal? This isn’t just a case of religious groups using the school after hours – this is religion forced on a captive audience during school hours, paid for with tax dollars intended for education, at the request of school administrators. This should be a huge lawsuit. It should be the most expensive mistake those administrators have ever made.

  • Ty

    If you find yourself, as an adult, playing bad covers of other people’s songs and ranting about homosexuality to high school kids, I think it’s safe to say your life has gone horribly wrong.

    Hey, ranting douche, remember when you first picked up the guitar and dreamed of being a rock star? Yeah. I hope that memory causes you do die a little inside.

  • http://patheos.com RickRay1

    Stats show that per capita, catholics and evangelicals have the highest rate of divorce. Put that in your bigoted pipe and smoke it asshole! Stop preaching a religion that has copied its dogma and ideologies from pagan religions that were around before Christianity even came into being! Godlodyte creatards, make me sick!

    • Tiffany

      I would love to see the study/stats this statement is based on! I don’t think it’s surprising in the least, but it would be good to have documentation for my own purposes.

      • vasaroti

        Just google ” religions divorce rates,” you’ll find several studies.

  • joe

    The amazing part is Christians say we are attacking them because we don’t want their hate filled nonsense in our public schools. The principle of this school is either responsible for what happens in his school or not. If he is responsible he should be fired immediately. If he is not responsible he should be removed from his post and his boss should be fired and the school district sued. Schools operate under laws that must be obeyed under penalty of fine or imprisonment. Churches operate on moral codes and taboos that are followed or avoided on a voluntary basis by members who have agreed to them. The imposition of Christian codes on the general public is a straight up attack on our civil rights.

  • Diablo

    I got sent to a Catholic High School as a kid for two years. We had an assembly that was supposed to be a motivational speaker. The dude seemed just weird as shit to me. Even as a teenager, I had a pretty decent BS screen and the dude went off about how he turned his life around. The total extent of his story was just insane…like into the occult, heavy drug abuse, shit like that.

    Well after his show, he is signing his book that he is giving away and tells kids that he is having some sort of meet and greet down at the local National Guard Armory (where they have dances and stuff in my home town). A bunch of kids show up and it turns out the dude is this insane hardcore Evangelical nutbag that has his followers basically keep the kids there until they pledge their souls to god and turn away from their Catholic (or as he called it “Satanic”) ways.

    The school flipped their shit, panicking in trying to keep families from suing or pulling their kids out. Granted this was in ’97 so the internet wasn’t so common, but it took me like 1o minutes after I heard about this to google the dude and find out that he was a major nutbag.

    Its easy to look back as wonder what these administrators were thinking but you got to remember that these nuts are pretty good at selling themselves. Schools are usually just happy if they can find someone willing to work for cheap…which ends up attracting the crazies.

  • T

    I’m thankful I never had to sit through an assembly like this in high school, though at the time I would have been nodding in agreement with everything he says. (cringe)
    Any exposure to religion in our motivational speaker assemblies was limited to the speaker expressing their thankfulness at “finding God” in an incredibly difficult time. That at least is personal and only mildly suggests the idea that a person’s life could be better with god or a higher power involved. This guy’s nonsense is just blatant preaching. I really can’t believe he’s getting away with it.

  • Addie

    Oh my….

    I would have walked out. Actually, I probably would have stood up, flipped him off, called him a neanderthal, and then walked out. One way ticket to suspension-land!

    And totally worth it.

    • Yoav

      I know they’ve all been dead for a while now but it’s still not a reason to insult neanderthals by comparing them to these a*sholes.

      • Addie

        ^ win


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