The Freedom From Religion Foundation is joining in a protest this Tuesday against a Christian-organized "Jesus Lunch" at Middleton High School in Middleton, Wis.
For the past couple of years, a parents' group has held weekly lunches at Fireman's Memorial Park, adjacent to the high school, in which organizers have handed out bibles, engaged in proselytization and given out free food—all contrary to the wishes of the Middleton-Cross Plains School District. In doing so, the parents are violating a city agreement that gives the district the right to decide use of the park.
"FFRF strongly supports—and actively fights for—the rights of free speech and free assembly as embodied in the First Amendment," writes FFRF Legal Fellow Ryan Jayne in a letter to Don Johnson, superintendent of the Middleton-Cross Plains School District. "However, these basic rights have reasonable limits when applied to school campuses. The district is well within its right to regulate large groups targeting district students, especially when those groups violate district rules and regulations."
FFRF has been invited by a student leading a protest Tuesday against the weekly event and plans to be there to offer some support—and a little fuel—to the protesting students and any students who drop by. FFRF will offer dessert to students: chocolate cookies, brownies and cupcakes.
The organization will have copies of the guidelines for FFRF's essay contest for college-bound seniors (offering more than $7,500 in prizes), its brochure about the top ten state/church violations in public schools, and various FFRF publications, including "What's Wrong with the Ten Commandments" and "Why Women Need Freedom From Religion."
"We don't think any adults, whether missionaries or atheists or those purveying commercial enterprises, should be allowed to move in opportunistically like this upon what is essentially a captive audience of students," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "But if the 'Jesus Lunches' aren't going to be stopped, the Freedom From Religion Foundation plans to be there too, providing some desserts and some freethinking balance."
The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is an organization dedicated to the separation of state and church with 23,700 nonreligious members nationwide, including more than 1,300 in Wisconsin.