FFRF urges bar on ministry access to students in Missouri schools

1screenThe Freedom From Religion Foundation urged Missouri public schools to prohibit an evangelical ministry from having access to students.

FFRF has learned that youth ministers have been allowed admittance to several public schools in the Branson area. KLIFE, which describes itself as a “Christian ministry to area youth,” is one evangelical group that visited students. Its website proclaims that the “heartbeat of KLIFE lies in the ability to build relationships with kids and bring the content of God’s word to bear on those relationships.”

A video circulated on social media that appears to show the local KLIFE chapter director, Pastor Robert Bruce, at Hollister Middle School leading all the students in prayer. Reportedly, adults led similar prayers several times previously during the preceding week. 

KLIFE has also apparently held programming in public schools in Branson, Bradleyville and Reeds Spring. In a KLIFE Tri-Lakes video from 2014, Branson Junior High School Principal Bryan Bronn said:

Somebody once told me that if you wanted to reach students and you wanted to be serious about being, as Jesus called us to be, fishers of men, then you need to be serious about where the fish are at. And we all know that fish travel in… schools.”

“It is well settled as a matter of established law that public schools may not advance, prefer or promote religion,” says FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott. “It is unconstitutional for a public school to allow an evangelical Christian organization to impose prayer on all students. Giving the group access to all students as part of school programming suggests that the school district has preference not only for religion over nonreligion, but also evangelical Christianity over other faiths. This sort of entanglement between religion and public education is inappropriate.”

Schools may not allow this sort of access to a religious organization seeking to proselytize. Moreover, it is inappropriate for public schools to offer KLIFE representatives unique access to a captive student audience on school property. When the school does this, it advances the organization’s mission of proselytizing. 

School officials must immediately stop KLIFE representatives from visiting district schools, FFRF said. Additionally, they need to halt organized prayer during the lunch period.

FFRF is a national church/state watchdog organization with an enrollment of 23,000 members, including nearly 300 individuals in Missouri.


Freedom From Religion Foundation

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