Churches in schools debated on MSNBC

A Religious Right scheme to “plant a church in every school” was one of the topics covered in a Jan. 31 segment of MSNBC-TV’s “Melissa Harris-Perry Show,” featuring FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor and Katherine Harris, author of The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children.

FFRF’s complaint over such an entanglement at Apopka High School in Orlando, Fla., was reported by Harris in her Jan. 14 article in The Nation headlined “The movement to put a church in every school in growing.”

The Venue Church, which operates inside three public schools in Orange County, Fla., has as its goal “To plant a congregation in every Central Florida school zone in the next 10 years.” FFRF, which has an ongoing federal lawsuit over bible distribution in Orange County Public Schools, has repeatedly complained to the district about a number of problems.

The church vows it will never own its own building. Its motto is “Partnering with schools and communities to serve students and families to gain the privilege of sharing the love of Jesus for eternal impact.”

FFRF complained, among other things, about Todd Lamphere, Venue’s co-founder and pastor, being designated as the school football team’s “chaplain” (as well as chaplain of its bowling team!). The district subsequently renamed him “life coach” and continues to justify Lamphere’s active school presence, which includes organizing “mission trips” for students.

Harris and Gaylor debated the topic with a Methodist evangelist.

Freedom From Religion Foundation