Freethought Today · April 2015

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

FFRF objects to evangelist’s speech at Mich. school

FFRF sent a letter of complaint and records request March 30 to Iron Mountain Public Schools in Iron Mountain, Mich., after the school district allowed speaker Bob Lenz to use a presentation during school hours to recruit students to attend a later religious event at a church.

Lenz is part of Life Promotions, which is based in Appleton, Wis. He employs a common evangelical method to recruit public school students to religious programming, giving a supposedly secular presentation during the school day where he passes out fliers advertising pizza, prize drawings or other incentives to attend a religious event later that evening.

At an auditorium event during the school day March 2, Lenz gave a talk touted as "a positive message of hope and encouragement," accompanied by an illusionist. Lenz says he has been speaking to public schools for over 30 years.

"Students are a vulnerable and captive audience, and Iron Mountain High School allowed Lenz to take advantage of the students' captivity to recruit them to come to a Christian event later that night," wrote Senior Staff Attorney Rebecca Markert.

Lenz brags on Facebook about the percent of students who returned for the religious program and the number who "received Jesus" after a March 9 presentation in public schools in Girard, Kan.

A promotional video for Life Promotions claims that America's youth are experiencing a "spiritual poverty," lamenting that less than 18% of youth attend church regularly. The video also takes a tone-deaf attitude toward poverty, asking viewers, "Did you know many of America's youth are among the poorest in the world?" with a graphic of a person holding out a bowl. The hungry person is then "painted" over, as the narrator announces, "Not a physical poverty, a spiritual poverty!"

"This is very callous, given that 16 million U.S. children live below the actual poverty line," noted FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.

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