Texas school refuses to call off evangelizers

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked Northwest Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Rue to halt an evangelical "Seven Project" assembly in Trophy Club, Texas.

FFRF, a state/church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., is the nation's largest association of atheists and agnostics with more than 17,000 members, including over 800 in Texas. FFRF wrote on behalf of concerned district residents.

FFRF tried by letter and phone call to halt the assembly, which took place today at Byron Nelson High School in Trophy Club. The topics included abstinence. It's FFRF's information and understanding that Seven Project will be holding an evening faith meeting in the same school tonight. FFRF has made an open records request about rental or any district honoraria or other payments to Seven Project.

Seven Project is directly affiliated with the Assemblies of God National Youth Ministries, whose goal is to “win, build, and send students to the cause of Jesus Christ.”

"It is clear that the group is a pervasively sectarian religious organization, wrote FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott. "The group’s stated goal is '[connecting] your community to share Jesus.' Their website also states that the project 'serves as a catalyst to mobilize and equip Christian communities to reach out to schools.' In fact, the website blatantly states that the 'Seven Project is not merely a school assembly or evening rally' but is 'a comprehensive outreach strategy that equips and trains leaders and students in effective evangelism and discipleship.'”

The NWISD Attorney Charles Crawford in a reply wrote,"This is not a religious program that gives the appearance that NWISD is endorsing or promoting a religious message. Simply because a presenter at a curriculum – based program has sincerely held religious beliefs is, in the District's view, insufficient to cancel the assembly and/or bar the presenter."

The assembly takes advantage of the captive audience of impressionable students in attendance, charges FFRF. Allowing a Christian organization access to a student body gives the impermissible appearance that the school endorses the program’s message.

"This arrangement is opportunistic, parasitical and unacceptable. Groups with an overt religious agenda should not be allowed access to public school students," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. 

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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