From the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF):
“Mount Ayr High School reportedly has scheduled an assembly by the Todd Becker Foundation during the school day on Wednesday, Jan. 9. The Todd Becker Foundation is a Christian ministry that travels throughout the Midwest putting on assemblies in public schools with the explicit purpose of converting students to its brand of evangelical Christianity.
According to the group’s website, its purpose is to “draw young people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ” and to “motivate high school students to discover their potentials and ultimately discover themselves by placing their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.”
The Todd Becker Foundation fulfills its mission by putting on an in-school program that uses a passage from the bible to impart a strong religious message on students. Immediately following the in-school presentation, students are approached by Todd Becker Foundation staff and local church representatives. Foundation members and church representatives ask students about their respective religious beliefs and “share with the student the gospel of Jesus Christ and point them to the hope of a new beginning found in Christ.” Not only do they discuss their religious beliefs with students, students are “brought to a decision to surrender their life to Christ or to walk away from Him.”
It is well-settled law that public schools may not advance or endorse religion, nor may they use instructional time to allow outside groups to proselytize to students.
“The Todd Becker Foundation is only focused on one thing, evangelizing,” FFRF Legal Fellow Christopher Line writes in his letter to district Superintendent Joe Drake. “When students are provoked through the assembly into talking with Foundation members about very serious issues in their lives, such as physical or emotional abuse, drug or alcohol use, or other serious concerns, the only solution offered by the Foundation is Christianity.”
Considering the Iowa legislature’s and the current governor’s stances on education in Iowa – basically choke it through low funding – you may wonder why having a Christian group in to a school to use valuable class time to promote religion is such a big deal. The basic answer is that it is simply unconstitutional.
If the Mount Ayr school district allows the assembly to take place they are rather blatantly promoting Christianity in their role as a governmental body. Most know the first amendment to the constitution which very clearly states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…..” By extension courts have ruled over the years that promoting one religion over another is also illegal.
Besides the very blatant breaking of establish laws, the school district is also teaching its students that they can pick and choose which laws to follow and which to simply ignore. This is a very powerful and very wrong message for a governmental body to send.
Finally at a time when school dollars are tough to come by and school time is precious the school board is sending a message that that precious time and money doesn’t mean that much to them when they can give over precious teacher time to a proselytizing group. Makes you wonder how deeply tied to actual education members of the school board are.
Let us hope that the Mount Ayr school board will do the right thing and stop this illegal waste of time.
The Todd Becker Foundation has announced its plans to bring their Brand New Day Tour to Mount Ayr High School on January 9, 2019.