I knew it

Ok, so we were worried about Joel Osteen visiting a public elementary school.  Like Bradlee Dean, they said they were going to keep it secular.  However, for people who have a vested interest in converting children it’s just a difficult cheese to swallow that they’re going to the school just to pull weeds and read The Lorax.

I hate it when I’m right.

Here’s where we stand right now.  The school did invite Osteen of their own volition.  He and his wife are at the school right now.

What’s more, a parent returning a library book noticed books stacked up for giveaways in the school library at Amidon-Bowen Elementary.  The books were Gifts from the Heart, which says that it is dedicated “To a strong and mighty generation who will develop and use their gifts to inspire others, and be ushered into the greater things of Christ.”  The books are reportedly to be given away.  Here are some pics of the book, authored by Victoria Osteen.

I know also that the ACLU has emailed the school and that the school is, to use their words, “looking into it.”  Let’s give them a little extra incentive.

Here is the email I just wrote to the school’s VP.

Mr. Ham,

I am the author of a popular blog (##### unique readers last month).  I also work with high school students for my career, which makes me concerned over some of the things I’ve been hearing about the events today at Amidon-Bowen.

First, I have heard that you have invited Joel Osteen and his wife to your school today.  I trust you are aware of the baggage associated with inviting someone to your school, presumably in a role model capacity, who speaks against the very science the students are supposed to learn at Amidon-Bowen.

But while I think you could do better with who you invite, it is still your right to invite them so long as they do not proselytize sectarian religion.  You are undoubtedly aware that it is your job as an employee of the government to maintain religious neutrality at the hands of your school, its faculty, and any events you put on.  To do otherwise would be an open and shut establishment clause case, and your students deserve better than administrators who would knowingly break the law (and risk dollars earmarked for education in a potential lawsuit).  But, so long as the pastor and his wife are doing secular work in your school, nobody should take issue.

However, I have received word from two parents at the school now that there are stacks of giveaway books in the school library.  The title, as I have been told, is Gifts from the Heart, which says that it is dedicated “To a strong and mighty generation who will develop and use their gifts to inspire others, and be ushered into the greater things of Christ.”  This would be light years beyond the line.  It would be so transparently illegal that the only conclusion that any reasonable person could reach was that you and every staff/administrator involved would be knowingly breaking the law.  Included in this email are pictures of the book.

Perhaps these reports are untrue.  Admittedly, I have not been there to verify them.  If they are false, then simply ignore this email since you have nothing to worry about from me or anybody who reads me.

But if these reports are true, and you do know about this, know that I will find out.  If these books reach the hands of students through a public school, know also that I have the means to make this a very public issue and that I will not hesitate to do so.  There are organizations such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation that, like myself, take violations of the law like this very seriously; almost as seriously as the administrators of public schools should take them.

It is the dream of every lawbreaker to operate in the dark.  Please take a moment to assure Mr. Ham that there are lots of eyes watching.

Chancellor Kaya Henderson
1200 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Telephone: (202) 442-5885
Fax: (202) 442-5026
To e-mail: http://dcps.dc.gov/DCPS/About+DCPS/Contact+Us/Ask+the+Chancellor

Amidon-Bowen Vice Principal Dwayne Ham
dwayne.ham@dc.gov
401 I St. SW Washington, DC 20024.
Phone: 724-4867
Fax: 724-4868

Let them know that we can and will unleash hell if these reports are true.


Update:

From one of the people keeping tabs on the goings on at Amidon-Bowen.

I was lied to by the Vice principal.

He told me to my face when I asked, “What will be read?” that “The Lorax” would be the book.  Not so.  50ish K, 1st and 2nd graders were read Victoria Osteen’s book Gifts from the Heart.  No Lorax at all.  The school handed out “Gifts from the Heart” to the kids.

A few declined.  There were many adults- presumably Osteen entourage. Possibly a couple parents.

Joel Osteen smiled and said “Hi how are you” to the kids and patted a few heads.  It was his wife’s show.

One of the students in attendance at the reading explained of Mrs. Osteen that, ‘She didn’t read no Dr. Suess. She read this book!’ and held up a copy of “Gifts From the Heart.”

I have asked everybody on the ground to start collecting evidence.  Pics of kids with the book, recordings of them talking about it, etc.  Kind of ironic we immoral atheists must exert so much effort to prevent breaking the law in the presence of children by people claiming to have the moral high ground.  Thou shalt not lie, right?

We gave them fair warning.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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