On Monday, January 28 at 2:15 pm all students at Powell High School were removed from their fourth period classes to attend a general assembly for the purpose of learning about a 4-day event now underway at Grace Baptist Church. At the end of the assembly and before school dismissal, representatives of the church distributed tickets to the event, which runs from January 27 through January 31, according to the tickets my daughter brought home.

The event underway at Grace Baptist this week is a series of evening programs being presented by the Grace Student Ministries ((link...), according to the tickets) and featuring Ken Freeman, whom my daughter described as being a "motivational speaker." Students attending will have the chance to win "free stuff," acording to the tickets, including "iPods, a flat screen TV, an X-Box 360, portable DVD players, and iTunes gift cards."

It was Mr. Freeman who spoke to students during the school assembly. When I questioned my daughter about his remarks during the assembly, she replied that it did not appear to her that they were evangelical in any way, nor did she recall his making any reference to religion. It was her impression that Mr. Freeman was more intent on encouraging youth to "make good choices" generally.

However, when I asked a Powell High administrator this morning whether the Grace Baptist event underway is of a more evangelical and/or religious nature, he replied "Oh, it is."

Given that confirmation, I asked the administrator why this invitation from Grace Baptist was not extended through some before or after school channel, rather than through a general assembly during school hours. He indicated that it was because "nobody would come." He added that the general assembly was approved by school system personnel.

With the information I have right now, I am thinking that Grace Baptist inappropriately marketed a captive audience of Powell High students during school hours and that the administrative decision to extend this invitation through a general assembly of students constitutes an abuse of the authority adult school employees have over these youth.

What are your thoughts?

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bizgrrl's picture

I think this was a very

I think this was a very inappropriate event. Are there not rules to prevent religious solicitation at public schools? Will all other religions get equal time?

Opinari's picture

I would guess that, had this

I would guess that, had this "motivational speaker" been a Muslim, and the venue had been the local mosque, a lot of locals would be asking a lot of pointed questions.

Lisa Starbuck's picture

Assembly

It would be one thing if they had an announcement about free tickets to the event, but it doesn't seem right that they would take them out of class to attend a presentation.

I guess the thing is, if they let Grace Baptist do it, why not everyone else? If I were hosting some kind of event targeted at teens, would the school let me come and pitch it to the students? I doubt it.

KC's picture

The best way is to have

The best way is to have competent and experienced career civil servants, not
partisan appointments nor elected officers.

gonzone

He added that the general assembly was approved by school system personnel.

You mean experienced career civil servants did this? Surely not!

Having the assembly during school hours was a mistake. Before school or after school, probably OK. Handing stuff out is problematic because it brings up the question Lisa did, which is if you don't let any and every church do it, are you violating the Establishment clause?

And during school? That just seems like a no-brainer.

gonzone's picture

Please Note

Please note that my quote included the word competent.

Do you think this was done by competent career civil servants Gary?

If not, why use my quote at all?

Sounds like grounds to dismiss some INcompetent persons myself. Don't know if you agree.

Ennui's picture

Agreed on the necessity for

Agreed on the necessity for after school hours on events like these...the complaints that "no one would come" is as telling about the motives here ....as it is an ineffective response to the question.

Christian's picture

The constitutional

The constitutional separation of church and state, which protects religions from the state, must only apply at Powell High School if a Mosque or Synagogue seeks to indoctrinate our children at the public school. It's amazing what bearing a few gifts does to a public school administrator's view of the constitution.

Christian's picture

Tamara, this is more than

Tamara, this is more than "an abuse of the authority adult school employees have over these youth." If your account is accurate, this is a blatant violation of you and your daughter's rights under the United States Constitution. Those rights protect people for the state, and more importantly protect religions from the state. When the state, through the public school system, decided which religions can and cannot appear before a captive audeince o children, the state is promoting one religion over another, and that's bad for religion. It sure is good for one religion, though, and that's why we have a constitution.

SammySkull's picture

Sounds like someone wasn't

Sounds like someone wasn't thinking very deeply or clearly about this. It sounds like not only a violation of Constitutional church/state separation but also likely an illegal violation of students rights. When will these people learn?

Oh, and this is yet another reason my wife and I chose to homeschool, to avoid the proselytizing that happens in our local schools.

smalc's picture

I have noticed that many

I have noticed that many evangelicals have a warped view of "freedom of religion." They really, really believe it means they have the freedom to bring their religion into the classroom, and to exclude other religions. To try to convince them otherwise is as productive as beating your head against a wall.

Donna Maxwell's picture

This church as well as the

This church as well as the school officials know better. They are just seeing how far they can push the evelope. Let's let them know they've pushed too far.

Paul Witt's picture

I got ticked when my boys

I got ticked when my boys came home with Upwards sports flyers in their bags and was told that the school system's policy was to allow for handouts from religious groups if the handouts weren't overtly religious.

One of my oldest son's teachers gave everyone in the class bracelets with crosses on them on the last day of school. This was several years ago. She was pregnant and not coming back in the fall and, I assume, thought it was ok. My wife, wisely, kept this from me for a few months or else our principal would've gotten an earful. Just the other day we heard about a teacher at their school that read the Bible to her class last year.

Both of these were at Rocky Hill Elementary. It looks like there needs to be an inservice day about keeping religion out of the classroom.

R. Neal's picture

It looks like there needs to

It looks like there needs to be an inservice day about keeping religion out of the classroom.

Yeah, and maybe you could get Rep. Stacy Campfield to give it.

metulj's picture

In order to do that, he'd

In order to do that, he'd have to teach. In order to teach, he'd have to read. Not. Gonna. Happen.

Anyhow, I am going to give some advice as the son of a mother who went to war against this crap in Virginia. (My elementary school was, for all intents and purposes, an evangelical reeducation center.) You need to be prepared for your kids to bear the brunt of the opprobrium and hate that these folks can muster at a moment's notice. I was called 'heathen' for years because my mom simply said "You are not allowed to force my child to read from the Bible, nor are you allowed to beat him for refusing." Yep. My third grade teacher beat me down for saying, "My mommmy told me that I was only supposed to read the Bible at home or at Sunday School." It only got worse when they discovered that Bible in my house meant both ends of the book and Sunday School was at that building with a picture of the pope in it. Just be ready for it. Your sons will become "gay" or your daughters will become "harlots." Fair warning.

True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

Pam Strickland's picture

I am, frankly, appalled.

I am, frankly, appalled. This simply is not right, period.

pgs

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

gonzone's picture

Current reading

I'm currently reading Religious Literacy by Stephen Prothero and it would be instructional for those who would like to examine these type issues further.

Tamara,

Interested in a little civil disobedience? I see possibilities for having these events disrupted as reward for Grace taking up valuable instruction time at Powell. I'm certain there would be many kids at Powell up to the challenge and creative enough to do it in an amusing way. Of course some media might need invited to record the event. Heh.

Toad In The Hole's picture

Put a little God/Moral Authority in the Classroom

The teachers union and the local school boards have all acquiessed and bent over to allow God and all references to any moral authority to be removed from the classroom, the school, and public education in general.

They have replaced moral authority in the classroom with metal detectors, regular sweeps by the drug task force, hundreds of cameras and video surveillence, armed resource officers and armed sheriff's department officers and armed city police officers in our county schools.

Sorry Knox County School Board, as Howie Mandell is forced to say from time to time, I'm sorry, you made a very bad deal.

gonzone's picture

Which one?

If we're gonna have God in the classroom bucko, then it better be mine, the FSM. Else surely chaos and lawlessness will ensue.

SammySkull's picture

And don't forget my god,

And don't forget my god, this award I got from . . . oops, sorry, that was someone else.

My god is Eris Discordia, queen of all chaos and pretty things.

Hail Eris! All hail Discordia!

And yes, chaos and lawlessness will certainly ensue, but then that's the whole point.

Praise to the Golden Apple Corp, holder and uplifter of the sacred Wholly Chao!

Hildegard's picture

When conservative family

When conservative family members or friends ask me "how" I could be a member of the ACLU, I tell them I was raised Catholic in the South.

R. Neal's picture

When conservative family

When conservative family members or friends ask me "how" I could be a member of the ACLU, I tell them I was raised Catholic in the South.

Quote of the day, so far...

Tamara Shepherd's picture

A second question for school board members

Indya (or other school board members), I would also like to ask what oversight and/or policy, if any, the school system has over the activities of after school clubs, in particular Powell High's Y-Teens chapter, a subsidiary of the Young Women's Christian Association.

It is my understanding that school sponsors for the Powell High Y-Teens are extending service hour credit to youth distributing brochures for Fred Sisk's political campaign at school sports events. I am told that it was Mr. Sisk who approached the school sponsors and that he is "signing off" on the forms students must turn in to receive service hour credit (a related matter of littered school grounds has ensued since this practice began...).

Would it then be the policy of the Y-Teens to extend service hour credit to youth working on any political campaign? Is this perhaps the case? Or does the school system possibly lack any oversight/policy in a question such as this?

Whichever the policy applicable, I would hope to find that the school system and/or the Y-Teens make every effort to inform ALL candidates of this ready pool of youthful volunteers motivated by a need to earn service hours.

Indya's picture

I asked about this and was

I asked about this and was told the following: Ken Freeman has been a speaker for our Character Counts curriculum for years. Yesterday's assembly was about making good choices and avoiding alcohol and other substance abuse. He's given this talk at other schools before and it's not religious in content. Apparently at the end of his talk he told the audience that he would be speaking again the next evening and said information about that talk was available at the back of the auditorium.

Tamara's initial post said "When I questioned my daughter about his remarks during the assembly, she replied that it did not appear to her that they were evangelical in any way, nor did she recall his making any reference to religion. It was her impression that Mr. Freeman was more intent on encouraging youth to "make good choices" generally."

Board policy IKCC 'Religious Expression' says the following:

Knox County Schools complies with existing state and federal law regarding religion and religious expression in public schools. Students and employees can engage in expression of personal religious views or beliefs within the parameters of current law. Knox County Schools neither advances nor inhibits religion.

Knox County Schools will take reasonable steps to protect students from religious coercion or harassment in schools promptly, equitably, and with civility. If a student or a student's parent or guardian believes that the student's rights with regard to personal religious beliefs have been violated, they shall state their complaint to the school principal. If their concerns are not addressed, then the student or a student's parent or guardian shall make a complaint in writing to the Superintendent. It shall be the duty of the Superintendent, within thirty (30) days of receiving the complaint, to ensure that the rights of the student are protected.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

stop advertising during school hours

I don't care if my children bring home fliers for VBS, some mom selling Pampered Chef or anything else. I do care when academics are interrupted for somebody's tent revival, infomercials or coupon book pep rallies.

gonzone's picture

Channel One

Required viewing in many classrooms, Channel One, complete with advertisements.
How's that useful?
No Child's Behind Left?
Helps with math?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Thoughts on "purpose"

Thanks for your comments. In reference to an assertion I made earlier:

"...all students at Powell High School were removed from their fourth period classes to attend a general assembly for the purpose of learning about a 4-day event now underway at Grace Baptist Church

...I would expect to hear from school officials and/or school system officials that this was not their "purpose" at all. Again, the program delivered by the speaker at the in-school event apparently took a more secular bent and it is certainly possible that these officials did not authorize the distribution of tickets to the Grace Baptist event during the in-school assembly.

However, the "purpose" of Grace Baptist representatives who attended seems clear. Their intent appears to have been to promote their own event of a very different nature featuring this same speaker.

It may be, then, that school system officials are themselves the victims of Grace Baptist's "bait and switch" tactic.

If that is the case, I suppose a question arises of how school system officials may avoid being compromised by such churches in the future.

With regard to the school-level administrator's motive, it is also perfectly clear to me from the conversation I had with him that it was his intent to cause students to attend the Grace Baptist event hosted at that church this week. He said to me, quite explicitly, that he "didn't want them to miss it."

If my understanding of his motive is correct, a question also arises of how school officials may avoid being compromised by the desires of such school-level administrators.

Justin's picture

However, the "purpose" of

However, the "purpose" of Grace Baptist representatives who attended seems clear. Their intent appears to have been to promote their own event of a very different nature featuring this same speaker.

I like how they try to lure the kids in by promising a chance to win an Xbox/Ipod or tv. Pathetic. What are Ken Freeman's credentials?

*edit...found it (link...)

Looks like your typical Baptist fluff piece... Does he have a degree in social work?, education? Outside of him "loving him some Jesus" and helping to "save" over 200,000 people (rolls eyes) what the hell makes him so qualified to tell students "dont do drugs, drugs bad, drinking and driving kills...." blah blah blah...

gonzone's picture

WWJD?

Would Jesus entice with "free prizes?"

Would Jesus do a "bait and switch" to "spread the gospel?"

In Biblical terms, the ends never justifies the means. It's all about the journey (or means.)

rocketsquirrel's picture

two thoughts: 1. When you

two thoughts:

1. When you read Freeman's bio, it is clear that he intends to evangelize, even in "school auditoriums," in a "fresh, easy to understand manner that roots itself in God's word."

Ken’s approach to evangelism allows him to grab the attention of his audience through humor and his down to earth personality. His message, then, is always delivered in a fresh, easy to understand manner that roots itself in God’s word. Ken’s ability to be versatile allows him to communicate well in any setting, traditional or contemporary, school auditorium or church staff meeting, a large convention or an intimate retreat.

2. If indeed a school administrator said he "didn't want them to miss it (the 4 day event at Grace Baptist)" then that may rise to the level of coercion, which Indya indicates is in violation of KCS policy. "Knox County Schools will take reasonable steps to protect students from religious coercion or harassment in schools promptly, equitably, and with civility."

Justin's picture

Now you kids are probably

Now you kids are probably asking yourselves 'Hey Matt how can we get back on the right track!?'

Rachel's picture

Geez, he looked like Lumpy

Geez, he looked like Lumpy Lambert.

redmondkr's picture

Recovering Baptist

rant

My mother was a member of Grace since the late forties. Once, while she was suffering from Alzheimer's, we had visitors from there. They had been next door to her house looking for her and a neighbor had told them she had moved in with me. They rang the bell and announced that they had been assigned to visit her and see if she had all her Sunday school lesson books and her tithe envelopes. This was before we had the solicitor-discouraging Gino.

Mama was at the stage where she could not complete an intelligible sentence and they kept looking at me as if a translation of her words was imminent. There was never any encouragement or even the standard, "If we can do anything to help, just call." They had apparently just wondered why her tithe had dried up. This was a long time after I had become her conservator and was desperately searching for ways to pay for her care while I had to be away at work. As politely as I could I asked them to leave my house.

My last encounter with that bunch was just before Mama's funeral. Somebody called me and asked if it would be permissible for a group from the church to visit the funeral home (in faraway Wartburg) on Tuesday night since I had done the blasphemous deed of scheduling the receiving of friends on Wednesday, a time when all good Baptists are at church.

As if they needed my permission. I stood properly admonished and told the gentleman to go ahead, she's not there anyway.

Until I was eighteen, I was 'encouraged' to attend that church and, under threat of the gaping jaws of hell, even joined it when I was twelve. Since a person can enter no other legally binding agreement at that tender age, I trust that God has forgiven me for that youthful indiscretion.

As a result of my experiences I have been known to tell proselytizers from their bigot factory that it is my firm belief that a true Southern Baptist and a Christian cannot exist in the same body.

Somewhere I still have a T shirt that says "Recovering Baptist" on the back. I bet it's too small to get into now.

/rant


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KC's picture

bigot factory that it is my

bigot factory that it is my firm belief that a true Southern Baptist and a Christian cannot exist in the same body.

I can understand your disillusionment with the pastoral care that the church failed to offer, but I think your belief is a vast generalisation.

Consider the churches, of all denominations, that deliver food to the needy, reach out to the needy and sick on a regular basis, and support causes like the Mission of Hope, and most people would agree that these churches, including Southern Baptist ones, are following Christ's teachings.

Following it perfectly? No. But then churches are made up of people, and nobody's perfect.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Distribution of tickets

Indya: "Apparently at the end of his talk he told the audience that he would be speaking again the next evening and said information about that talk was available at the back of the auditorium."

Thanks for looking into this, Indya, but please be aware that these tickets to the Grace Baptist event were not "available at the back of the auditorium." My daughter indicates that they were distributed by hand by a number of adults from Grace Baptist to all Powell High students attending the in-school assembly.

My son at Powell Middle now indicates that adults from Grace Baptist were also at his school today, handing out the same tickets. These tickets were distributed to students after school, as they waited for their parents in the "car riders line."

Carole Borges's picture

It might sound a bit narrow,

It might sound a bit narrow, but I think any group with any religious affiliations at all should be barred from entering our public schools to speak to our children, no matter what trinkets they bring, and no matter how helpful their message might be. There are plenty of secular organizations out there with fantastic motivational speakers, and kids themselves have proven to do a very effective job.

Anonymous's picture

I think way too much was

I think way too much was made out of this. This was a motivational speaker and GOD or attending Grace Baptist Church was not the purpose of this assembly by any means. He was there to tell his story and to tell us about how our choices and how they affect our lives. I'm pretty sure if a student didn't feel comfortable taking a ticket and politley refused they wouldn't have been punished in anyway. I attended this assembly and I personally enjoyed it and thought he was there with good intent and not how you have portrayed it. I never once felt any pressure and I think some people like to take things and blow them out of proportion to get a rise out of people.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Active solicitation by adults

"I'm pretty sure if a student didn't feel comfortable taking a ticket and politley refused..."

I feel that my children should not have to "politely refuse" such solicitation by adults in a public school, particularly at a general assembly during school hours.

I feel that no such active solicitation by adults should be allowed in a public school, either during or after school hours.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Y-Teens?

By the way, Anonymous, if you are a Powell person, can you possibly answer that second question I posed above?

Is the Powell High Young Women's Christian Association offering service hours to students working on any political campaign, and have they notified all candidates of their pool of student volunteers, or are these service hours available only to Sisk's student volunteers?

reform4's picture

Service Hours?

What are "service hours"? An excuse to get out of school?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Community Service Hours

Steve, many school clubs require their student members to generate a certain number of hours on community service work. My daughter, who is a member of Beta Club (honor society) has to earn so many hours per semester to retain her membership.

The clubs' school sponsors usually "sign off" on some form used to track hours, particularly if the student's service is in support of some school-centered event for which the teacher can easily verify the student's participation.

When the student's service is in support of some off-campus activity, as in the Y-Teens' work on Sisk's campaign, clubs usually ask that the adult supervising the non-school activity "sign off" on the form.

I spoke to 6th District commission candidate Kathy Bryant last night to ask if she knew that the Y-Teens are offering student campaign volunteers. She didn't know that.

I also spoke to one of Sisk's opponents, Robert Bratton last night. He wasn't aware, either.

rocketsquirrel's picture

would the folks who think

would the folks who think this is no big deal think the same if it was a group of atheist parents handing out flyers? would that be ok too?

How about someone from Nature's Path, the leading manufacturer of hemp foods in North America, speaking on the nutritional value of hemp-based foods, and having authority figures handing out flyers to all the students asking them to attend an off-campus hemp food fair?

that's ok too, right?

the reason I think Tamara and other's think this might be a big deal is that folks don't want their kids aggressively solicited by outside organizations in a captive assembly. Especially religious organizations, where the establishment clause comes into play.

Our forebears came to this continent to flee religious persecution, to worship (or not) as they saw fit. How quickly we have forgotten.

George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Ethan Allen were Deists, not Christians. Deists believed in the supremacy of human reason over faith and revelation, and disdained the supernatural. They opposed both government suppression and government establishment of religion.

Freedom to worship, freedom from the government imposing religious doctrine on anyone.

reform4's picture

Do I have to go through Y-teens?

Can I just sign out 100 students to stuff envelopes?

(just kidding....)

Carole Borges's picture

Agree. Why burden kids with this?

It's so easy for those of you who have strong church ties to think this is a very small and maybe even trite issue, but let me assure you that as a child raised without any church affliation (yet a strong and lasting spiritual connection to God) this can indeed embarass kids who, at the very age they want to feel part of their peer group, can feel torn by loyalties, not to mention anger because many times these kids do know that the Church by law is not supposed to pushing its way into their classrooms in public school.

Schools should be a safe place for children. A place free from discussions about religion and religious beliefs. If you were a Muslim child in that assembly how would you feel? If all your friends were happily discussing the fact they were buying tickets and you did not want to join them isn't it likely they would ask why not? What would you do? Admit your didn't go to any Christian functions because you were a Muslim? You'd stand out like a dumb sore-thumb in your friends eyes. Making kids feel less-than or left out of their peer group or weird because they are not indoctrinated or supportive of any religion is thoughtless and cruel.

In my fifth grade class some stupid teacher decided to talk about percentages by asking us students to get into groups according to religions. She thought this was innocent enough. She even included Jews (not Muslims or Hindus or Pagans of course). Wow! Very liberal for those days. After the other kids had all moved into a group, I was the only one left seated. When I told her I wasn't anything, she proceeded to quiz me with questions like "Well do you know what religion your parents were baptised?" When I told her my mother started out Catholic but hated that church after she had married my dad because when he refused to have his children grow up catholic the priest said we'd all be born in sin then and burn in Hell forever, she looked very exasperated. When I said my father had never been baptised anything because he was part Native American and didn't like the white people's churches very much, she rolled her eyes. Her comment, delivered with a look that was strangely similar to the one teachers gave kids with nits was, "Well I guess you're really a nothing then, Carole." She ended the conversation by saying I could form a group of my own then.

"The nothing group," I thought just before I put my hand up to ask to go to the bathroom to throw up.

It's hard enough for adults to face issues like religious affiliation, please don't advocate forcing our tender young people into that arena.

Seperation of Church and State is critical to our democracy.

Religion is not always as benign as you those of you who are members of sects think. What a person believes should be private business. To protect the many Americans like myself who feel that dividing God up into divisions does not help our global attitudes or our spiritual evolution, that they are in fact "cults" no matter how positive their message, it is imperative to maintain seperation of Church and State.

Our forefathers who wrote this into our constitution really knew what they were doing.

Faith is wonderful. Churches often do very good things, but having a rich spiritual life does not mean you have to be a Christian or even belong to a church. That's what we really ought to be teaching our children.

Anonymous's picture

I'm not a member of Y-Teens

I'm not a member of Y-Teens so I can't answer your question. Now answer this question. Why should we not have a speaker like Ken Freeman be able to come in and talk to us about choices. Let me remind I don't recall hearing Grace Baptist but once and it wasn't even in a way that was to pressure us to attend their church like you make it sound. Because if it was then trust me I would be upset because I have a church and I don't like to be pressured to attend another one.

Hildegard's picture

Anonymous, I wish you would

Anonymous, I wish you would sign your name to this post because I think you make a good point. If churches are not proselytizing I see nothing wrong with allowing their representatives to speak in schools about personal responsibility.

KC's picture

I see nothing wrong with

I see nothing wrong with allowing their representatives to speak in schools about personal responsibility.

It's unnecessary because teachers promote personal reponsibility on an hourly and daily basis.

Using phrases like "do your own work," "pay attention," "complete this assignment," and "wake up," is how most teachers do it.

I'm a believer and a regular church goer, but this seems like an attempt to "fly under the radar," by the promoters of this church event. It would be better if they promoted it through word-of-mouth.

I don't think high schoolers would let them down using that tactic.

metulj's picture

It's funny. I hadn't thought

It's funny. I hadn't thought of it that way. I tossed a kid from class today for talking, non stop, with his buddy in the back of class. For me it was a practical matter as it was simply distracting, but I guess you can make a moral case for why I needed to tell him to get out.

True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

Pam Strickland's picture

I think for teachers it is

I think for teachers it is frequently practical, but in reality it is teaching them how to be responsible. Of course, my teaching is primarily with first semester freshmen at a community college so when doing this I spent a lot of time teaching them how to be students.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

redmondkr's picture

What's the deal with giving

What's the deal with giving away chances on goodies? I figured a Baptist would consider that gambling which is almost as bad as dancing. When I was growing up in a Baptist household, we were not even allowed a deck of cards.

I guess there are those who believe that the ends justify the means if the church is more like a business than a real church.


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Tamara Shepherd's picture

Passive vs. agressive marketing

Please understand this distinction, Anonymous:

I DON'T take exception to the program Mr. Freeman delivered at the school assembly, and I said so in my initial post.

I DO take exception to Mr. Freeman and/or representatives of Grace Baptist placing tickets to an evangelical event directly in the hands of my high school child during school hours at a school-called assembly.

I also DO take exception to these or other affiliated adults placing those same tickets directly in the hands of my middle school child as he waited in the "car riders line" after school.

DON'T mind tickets on a countertop, DON'T mind posters on a wall.

DO mind in-your-face active solicitation by adults to children, such that my children's refusal is required, in either of these in-school or after-school settings.

The issue is passive vs. aggressive marketing of my children.

volzfan59's picture

Tamara, I have an idea......

First, my son went to the assembly too. He said that he enjoyed it quite a bit, but didn't take the ticket as we have a church home. By the way, the tickets were given out at the back of the auditorium and to my knowledge, nothing out of the way was said to any of the kids that refused the tickets. He said that there was no preaching, religious promoting or any arm twisting to attend the program at Grace. The guy really did talk about making good choices and mentioned that they could hear more at the Grace event.

I don't mind for one minute the kids going to the occasional assembly during class time, it's probably a good break for them. Plus, I appreciate any help I can get when it comes to positive influences for today's kids. I guess I'll call the school in the morning to counter your complaining and to encourage more Charater Counts, personal responsibility or any other POSITIVE motivational asseblies. Indya, I hope your reading this.

On to my idea, as you have such strong feelings concerning this, why don't you run for the school board instead of beating your chest in a blog? I bet your kids regret ever telling you anything that goes on. You are attempting to make a mountian out of a mole hill.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Thick

Volz: "By the way, the tickets were given out at the back of the auditorium and to my knowledge, nothing out of the way was said to any of the kids that refused the tickets."

This says to me that you don't get it.

Of course the tickets were given out at the back of the auditorium. It's the location of the only exit.

Pam Strickland's picture

and mentioned that they

and mentioned that they could hear more at the Grace event.

This is promoting a religious event. Out of bounds.

Also, kids get enough peer pressure. They shouldn't have to make the decision that they don't want the tickets that everyone else is taking to be polite. Again out of bounds.

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

KC's picture

mentioned that they could

mentioned that they could hear more at the Grace event.

How is this not promoting a religious event in the confines of an institution of public education? Especially if the school system gave the speaker the authority to speak? Looks to me like a violation of the Establishment clause.

StaceyDiamond's picture

church

Beaver Dam Baptist has done stuff like this at Hall Middle and High for years. You couldn't get away with it in a less isolated area. But the school board says their annual "crusade" is legal.

Shannon's picture

There's a difference between

There's a difference between the crusade in Halls and what appears to have gone on at PHS. The crusade requires a parental release to attend. I don't necessarily agree with the crusade's tactics, but it requires parental notification and permission to be released from school. From what Tamara said, her only notification of the event at PHS was after the fact, and the students were not given the option to sit it out.

Also, I'm more than a bit offended that you think Halls is isolated. It most certainly is not. Last I checked, we were surrounded by several other thriving communities and had highway access to downtown Knoxville. You make us sound like some backwoods hinterland with no phones, televisions, computers or cars.

Bbeanster's picture

Yeah, Shannon, plus, Halls

Yeah, Shannon, plus, Halls has given the rest of us Scoobie and R. Larry!
(just trying to help;-)

R. Neal's picture

Halls has it!

Halls has it!

scottfrith's picture

LOL Darn it, Randy, you

LOL Darn it, Randy, you beat me to it!

Shannon's picture

Bean, you are ever so

Bean, you are ever so helpful. :-P

volzfan59's picture

The rest of the story.........

What no one is being told here is this program, and any other NON-school related program was VOLUNTARY. The kids could have opted out and done something else. My child has opted out of several programs in the past. But hey, don't let that stand in your way of chest thumping.

Tamara, I "get it" more then you think. The reason I said what you quoted was, in your many posts you made it sound as if the kids were forced to take the tickets (my words, not yours). This just simply was not the case, they were OFFERED the tickets. My son, who I believe shares forth period with your daughter, politely refused the ticket as did many others. Nothing out of the way was said to any of them. If the kids were in any way made to feel bad or guilty for not taking te tickets, I would have been at the school the next morning.

Again, you are attempting to make something out of absolutely nothing.

Oh, this program was offered at more schools other than Powell. Wonder why no one else is whinning about it? HHhhmmmmmmm.

Justin's picture

Oh, this program was offered

Oh, this program was offered at more schools other than Powell. Wonder why no one else is whinning about it? HHhhmmmmmmm.

I didnt know Knox County had a habit of inviting evangelists...oops..umm..."life coaches"... to speak to students...and then pass out "tickets" promising ipods, xbox's and a free tv if they go get'em some Jesus later on that evening at the local Baptist church. Don't pray in my school, and I won't think in your church.

SammySkull's picture

freakin' awesome

Don't pray in my school, and I won't think in your church.
This deserves a medal!

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Volz: "Wonder why no one

Volz: "Wonder why no one else is whinning about it? HHhhmmmmmmm."

Sigh. Maybe they have complained previously (as I have), more discretely than on a blog (as I have), and really didn't affect any change?

Or maybe they've stopped complaining very publicly, because they just don't relish receiving needling respones like the posts you are making here? Let's make a pact to talk like adults, if you care to talk.

Dunno if you are right or wrong on this question of the assembly being voluntary. Just asked my daughter if she was *told* it was voluntary, and she said "no." Said the teacher just herded everyone into the hallway, and no students stayed behind.

But again, it didn't sound to me like the program itself was objectionable, just the in-your-face tactics of the adults from Grace. Don't know if their promotional efforts that day were approved by those school officials approving the program, either.

I've spoken with all our school board members about this incident and some others prior, and Rex tells me he expects the board will want to examine the existing policy for any weaknesses. I'm sure your thoughts will be welcome at that work session, too, but you'll need to express them more maturely.

KC's picture

and really didn't affect

and really didn't affect any change?

You mean all those competent career civil servants up in the AJ building have been ignoring you?

Surprise, surprise.

I've spoken with all our school board members about this incident and some others prior

It comes in handy sometimes to have all those pandering polticians around, doesn't it?

Anonymous's picture

Did you know Mr.Freeman also

Did you know Mr.Freeman also spoke at a Powell Middle School assembly? And I never once recall them twisting my arm to go to anything or take any tickets. This is my opinion you have yours and if you feel like this is a big enough issue to take to our school board members then go ahead but just know this was an approved assembly and your daughter did not have to attend if she didn't want to. I know I was informed of the speaker and what he was there to talk about if your daughter would have asked her teacher I'm sure they would have gladly explained the assembly to her as they did with me. You have taken this and blown it up to be more than it should be.

Jeff's picture

Mr. Freeman at Powell

So it appears these students were offered a ticket. If they WANTED to take one, they could. If they WANTED to stay out of the assembly, they could. These adults obviously cared enough about our children to bring in Mr. Freeman. His credentials? I do not know. As for me, if I am drowning and someone cares enough to try to rescue me, I think I will just wait until someone swims out that I feel is "qualified" to try to rescue me.

Also, regarding the reference to gambling; for something to be considered a gamble, you have to put up something that you risk losing. The tickets were free.

Hopefully, most of us are teaching our children to stand up for what they believe in. Is that a life-lesson or just something we tell them because it sounds "parental"? What about when they are adults? The adults that were offering (not forcing) the tickets were doing just that, doing something with what they believe because they care about these kids. This assembly and the tickets that were offered to the students (who wanted to take one) did no harm to any of them...and no, I was not one of the adults there from Grace.

I believe school campuses have been used in rural areas for churches to bring in coats and clothing during school hours. In short, of course there are different religious views and that is part of our rights as Americans. We express ours, you express yours. Meanwhile we have pregnant middle schoolers, drugs in schools, and it seems more and more of our kids are either becoming or are victims of drunk drivers. And yet we spend this much time and resource complaining because some people came and offered our kids and invitation to hear a man speak at a church.

Regarding the prizes being "bait". I attended the event with my daughter. None of the students (even assuming a few came solely for the chance of winning something) arrived and felt tricked because they realized they were at a church, and after the prizes were awarded (at the beginning, before Mr. Freeman spoke) there was not a mass Exodus of students from the room.

Again, were the students harmed? Ask the over 130 that came to know Jesus Christ as their savior last night, as did many of their parents.

R. Neal's picture

Again, were the students

Again, were the students harmed? Ask the over 130 that came to know Jesus Christ as their savior last night, as did many of their parents.

Seems like that puts to rest any questions regarding what this was all about.

Average Guy's picture

Amen means so be it

The truth shall set you free! Preach on brother R!

Carole Borges's picture

If the product is good why a need to push it so hard?

I used to go to a Hindu ashram every week. It was located on a remote road outside Boston by some yoga guy from India in the early 1900s. Beautiful. No long sermon, no hellfire or brimstone, just a big wooden-walled room with a stone fireplace and screen doors opening onto the forest. The singing there by a few talented members surpassed any organ or large chorus. The most moving part of the service though was the 20 minutes of complete silence they included, so people could actually have a chance to deeply savor the feeling of being in a spiritual space. It was a powerful experience. After that, if I went to a Christian Church I'd be so annoyed at the noise, at the fear being sold, at the angry lecturing. This church did no recruiting. They didn't have a radio show, thousands of members, or even a minister, but people were so drawn to it, so the little Temple was always full. I really miss that place. I can't imagine them tripping into some school selling tickets that offered prizes and a god experience to young kids.

I bet if they did they'd never be let in the school though. Christians seem to always feel their message is so worthwhile that it's no holds barred when it comes to getting souls saved.

Where does that egotistical illusion come from?

Pam Strickland's picture

There's this thing called

There's this thing called the constitution. A lot of people died in order for it to become the law of the land. It says church and state are separate. The harm is to the constitution, and as my fellow poster says, what would happen if someone from the local Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan or other religious community did the same. How would you feel then?

pgs

Pam Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

Average Guy's picture

Are the kids in this movie

Are the kids in this movie trailer (link...) saved from the evil world?

The kid in the clip says he was saved at age 5. What age do you advise?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

STOP!

Grown ups, please freeze frame.

Dear, I did not know that you were a student, but if you are, I know full well that your parents would not appreciate me, an adult stranger, trying to impose my religious beliefs on you, and I have absolutely no intention of doing that.

I'll ask that no other adults here should do that, either.

This issue is at the very heart of my/our concern.

We should now end this conversation or, Randy, I'll ask that this youthful poster be removed from the blog, as a matter of propriety.

Bbeanster's picture

Tamara, you are being silly.

Tamara, you are being silly. This kid is obviously here by choice and can obviously hold his/her own.

Average Guy's picture

You point out a problem and

You point out a problem and wait to be a martyr - I point one out and I'm a kid? This is not an argument you can only dip your toe in.

This is the problem. Why are the radicals always in someone else's religion? I hope you took the time to watch the clip. If you did, some glaring things should have stood out. In fact, if you watch all of Jesus Camp, you will see the instructors directing the children to pray to a cardboard cutout of George Bush. For me, that's child abuse.

Bush has taken "kids" from a religious kinder college of a law school and put them in charge of the justice department (link...) . If you think this issue begins and ends with what happens at Powell High, maybe your the one that needs to grow up.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Misunderstanding

No, Average Guy, you were not the "kid" who concerned me.

The "youthful poster" I referred to was a student, s/he said, who popped up briefly and with whom it seemed we adults should not be arguing.

It appears that the student's post has been removed, and s/he has been tucked in bed and kissed goodnight, which is as it should be.

Think I'll turn in, myself.

KC's picture

So it appears these students

So it appears these students were offered a ticket. If they WANTED to take one, they could. If they WANTED to stay out of the assembly, they could.

I've heard different stories as to whether going to the assembly was mandatory or not. That makes a big difference. In fact, it may make all the difference, legally.

Poltically, it's probably a different story. The question that Christians need to ask themselves is if the Muslim Community of Knoxville ever wanted to do something like this, would it be allowed? Or would the public want to allow it?

Probably not.

Anonymous's picture

What I don't think alot of

What I don't think alot of people realize this wasn't about religion it was about choices and if a muslim wanted to come talk about choices and teach how to be positive in life then so be it. I don't think some of you guys realize what the assembly really was.

metulj's picture

Right. Let's say that a

Right. Let's say that a Wahabist Muslim shows up at Powell High and schedules an assembly. I can guarantee that the reaction/drooling mob would make at least one major media outlet.

True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

Nelle's picture

Getting to know Jesus

Ask the over 130 that came to know Jesus Christ as their savior last night, as did many of their parents.

I met him at one of the candidate forums. Nice fella. Good Democrat.

Killer abs.

redmondkr's picture

In the experience of my

In the experience of my youth with this same church, it's pretty easy to get a kid to 'come to know Jesus' when several adults repeatedly offer the gaping jaws of hell as the alternative.

Fortunately I don't believe that God holds a grudge against me for signing on with that bunch when I was twelve, after all I was just a minor. In my adult life I abandoned the Baptists and became a Christian.

Lenny Bruce once said the people were leaving the churches in droves . . . . . . and going back to God.

BTW the tickets were not free. Somebody paid for those tickets and they expected a return on their investment. Looks like they got it, too.


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redmondkr's picture

Can you imagine the uproar

Can you imagine the uproar if somebody managed to get Tom Cruise to give a little motivational talk at Powell and, just in passing, he mentioned Scientology?


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KC's picture

Between some peoples'

Between some peoples' disdain for the church, and organized religion, and others' support for it, I haven't seen answers to the fundamental question about this assmembly.

Was it mandatory, were kids given a choice whether to go or not, and if not, did it violate the Constitution?

Everything else is pretty much irrelevant.

Average Guy's picture

Was it mandatory, were kids

Was it mandatory, were kids given a choice whether to go or not, and if not, did it violate the Constitution?

That's your fundamental question. Mine is; Does anything from any church belong in a government owned building?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

KCS Solicitation Policy

I'm not sure if this is the pivotal policy in this question, but I'll go ahead and share it. I'll share anything else that might guide, if I should find anything more.

(link...)

Tamara Shepherd's picture

KCS Harassment Policy

This policy could possibly be related, as well.

(link...)

Tamara Shepherd's picture

All Other KCS Policies Specific to Religion

Recognition of Religious Beliefs, Customs, and Holidays:
(link...)
(Excerpt: "No religious belief or nonbelief shall be promoted by the school system or its employees, and none shall be belittled.")

Religion in the Curriculum:
(link...)

Religious Expression (shared by Indya previously):
(link...)

Prayer and Period of Silence:
(link...)

Is it the case, then, that these tickets were not to have been "left on a countertop," as I suggested earlier, either?

Anonymous's picture

The assembly wasn't

The assembly wasn't mandatory.

KC's picture

assmembly No, that wasn't a

assmembly

No, that wasn't a Freudian Slip typo.

KC's picture

That's your fundamental

That's your fundamental question. Mine is; Does anything from any church belong in a government owned building?

That depends on what the policies are concerning who can use a building when it is not being used by the government, or when school is in session. The government can't ban religious organizations, but let every other group use the building.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Reality Check Finale

Having now reviewed the KCS Policy Manual and posted any policies than may be related to this incident, I think I see two clear infractions, as follows:

Recognition of Religious Beliefs, Customs and Holidays (Policy IKCA, first sentence):
"No religious belief or nonbelief shall be promoted by the school system or its employees, and none shall be belittled."

Student Solicitations (Policy JKA, first sentence):
"The schools shall avoid exploiting students, whether by advertising or otherwise promoting products or services, soliciting funds or information, or securing participation in non-school related activities and functions."

To my neighbors who are recently visiting here, my apologies that this conversation grew so raucous. I certainly mean no disrespect to either your religious beliefs or your parenting choices in raising my concern, and I hope you'll find I didn't disrespect you in my comments here.

I don't doubt the sincerity of your position, as I hope you don't doubt mine in insisting that this important line of division be observed in our school. I'm heartened to think that KCS policy is supportive of that division.

Without malice, then, I intend to write Superintendent Mullins and our board members to report this incident and to ask that in the future we do a better job of observing these existing policies.

Thanks,
Tamara

Pam Strickland's picture

I love it. There are rules,

I love it. There are rules, so what do they say. Good idea. And, clearly, the ones you cite were violated no matter what else did or did not happen. pgs

Strickland

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." ~Kurt Vonnegut

Anonymous's picture

No disrespect to you Mrs.

No disrespect to you Mrs. Shepard but I think you have way too much time on your hands and not much of a life to worry about something so trivial. I mean I wish you could put this effort to something that would be positive and not something like the speaker at Powell High School. I think there are alot worse things that go on in our world everyday. I don't find a speaker coming in to speak to a group of high school students one of them. Be thankful the school system cares enough about your children to want them to make positive choices in life.

metulj's picture

Yeah, Tamara, you should be

Yeah, Tamara, you should be at home cooking, cleaning and cleaving. Criminy.

True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

Anonymous's picture

Actually what I was saying

Actually what I was saying is I think she finds something and has a passion to get it fixed but what she needs to do is put it to something more worth her while.

metulj's picture

Like being barefoot and

Like being barefoot and pregnant, right Hornback?

True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

Carole Borges's picture

What could be more important than our Constitutional rights?

If you think this is trivial you're missing the whole point. You should read Arthur Millar's play "The Crucible", or rent the movie, in order to understand what happens when religion, politics, and kids get all wound up and confused with feelings of rapture. Also realize there is way too little difference between the people that burned witches at the stake so they could maintain their erroneous religious beliefs and steal their land and those in our modern world who somehow think we'd all be better off if only we believed as they do.

History is rampant with examples of horror when the Church and State mix it up. Today we have the Taliban and shira law. Religious males gone amok, but believing they are only passing on the Word as they see it.

Just because it's religious don't make it right. Nothing is more important than preserving our constitutional rights and this incident in this school represents a dangerous edge of shifting sand that could threaten our right not to be exposed to religious coersion of any kind.

Tamara should be applauded for being a strong supporter and a watchdog over our Constitutional rights. In my book that makes her a patriot, not a demon.

Anonymous's picture

What I'm trying to get

What I'm trying to get across is that this wasn't about religion at all. This was about a man's story (which was very interesting). I think if there was something truly wrong with this she would have her right to try to do something about it but in this case nothing wrong was done or said to make this religious except the ticket said that the event was at Grace.

Carole Borges's picture

As my father used to say: "A

As my father used to say: "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

I think we've all had our say on this. I think neither perspective can be understood by the other.

Average Guy's picture

The impression of Giles Corey

I think what needs spoken out loud here is something we all already understand. Even if we didn't know what Tamara posted here;

Recognition of Religious Beliefs, Customs and Holidays (Policy IKCA, first sentence):
"No religious belief or nonbelief shall be promoted by the school system or its employees, and none shall be belittled." ,

we know what the Constitution says about government and religion. There really is no debate. The question is why is this tolerated? Unless you call in the ACLU in an effort that will most likely make you your communities Michael Newdow - it will remain something that's wrong, but tolerated.

For those parents and children uncertain of what's the big deal about mixing government and religion, remember, we tried that once (link...)

Our founding fathers were less than 100 years from these trials. I think they understood the need for separation of church and state; (link...)

redmondkr's picture

. . . a Wahabist Muslim

. . . a Wahabist Muslim shows up at Powell High and schedules an assembly.

This person would be invited to speak because:

. . . school system cares enough about your children to want them to make positive choices in life.

Yeah, right.


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Sibyl's picture

And don't forget, the Muslim

And don't forget, the Muslim not only speaks to the children about making positive life choices, he mentions that he's going to be speaking at the local mosque for the next three nights. On their way out, the children are offered information about the sermon at the mosque and fliers promising the chance to win an iPod if they come. Over 100 show up and convert to Islam. And everyone in Knox County would think this was just hunky dory and anyone who complained is just an alarmist with too much time on her hands. Right?

Bbeanster's picture

Nobody there was asked to

Nobody there was asked to convert to any religion.

So how did it happen that 130 people were converted?

metulj's picture

THE POWER OF CHRIST

THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELLED THEM.

True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

SammySkull's picture

true

But in all honesty it was those awesome abs alluded to earlier.

Justin's picture

LMAO! good one.

LMAO! good one.

SammySkull's picture

the point

Student or not, the point here, and the truth here, is that our Constitution requires that there be a separation of church and state. Our local law says that what happened here is illegal. The event seems to have been an attempt to get children to attend church services, and those children were a captive audience. This is not right, not okay, not moral.

If it was not mandatory then what options were the students given if they did not want to attend? Were they alerted that it was optional and not mandatory?

Would I as an atheist be allowed to set up a day that I could come into the schools and teach children about making good choices without the need for an imaginary interstellar entity? Because I should have as much right to do that as any church, yet I seriously doubt our anonymous commenters would be fine with this, essentially demanding special rights for their brand of how to live.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Birth of a Notion

An in-depth review of our American history reveals the paradox of how our shared national vision for “religious freedom” evolved by jerks and sputters.

It’s certainly true that William Brewster and his fellow Separatists rejected the confines of the Church of England, and that they settled Virginia in 1620 to live their collective faith with greater independence. How ironic, then, that these same settlers accepted delivery of the nation’s first Negro slaves, born to America from England on the ship Jesus of Lubeck, just twelve years later. Through the lens of history, we wonder at the gaps in Puritan theology that allowed this culture to arise.

Similarly, John Winthrop’s Puritans settled in nearby Massachusetts in 1630 to reform, but not reject, the Church of England. The government these settlers established “selected” candidates for citizenship and voting rights, and soon began a practice of physically branding and even killing those of emerging faiths, including early Baptists and Quakers.

A century and a half of cult-like exiles, murders, and great discord followed these earliest attempts at planting a civilization on this new frontier. Ultimately, a widespread general belief in God survived the chaos and came to be expressed by many colonists, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, as Deism. The percentage of colonists affiliated with specific churches, though, declined to just ten percent.

This was the cultural and religious context, then, in which delegates to the Constitutional Convention arrived in Philadelphia in 1787. Southern delegates were especially vocal that the new government should not impose religious requirements for voting or holding office. When Patrick Henry proposed a tax to support a national Christian church, his motion was defeated, and James Madison wrote of that debate that “The same authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects.”

This concern still weighed on Madison when he worked to pen our Bill of Rights just three years later. His original text of the First Amendment read: “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience in any manner or on any pretext be infringed.”

Madison’s peers, however, believed that this enumeration of government powers might actually limit their scope and invite abuse. The "Establishment Clause,” they reasoned, was broad enough to cover unforeseeable threats. In the end, the text we know was given greater import, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

This nation’s road to fostering a culture of religious freedom that does not sacrifice our national unity has been no less bumpy in recent times. Amid much contention, the U. S. Supreme Court delivered its landmark decision on religion in schools in the 1962 case Engel vs. Vitale. Although the court spoke specifically to the unconstitutionality of government-led prayer in public schools, its 6-1 vote that such activity violates the Establishment Clause is understood more generally to prohibit the promotion of a religion in schools, even if that promotion is not coercive.

In his prevailing opinion, Justice Hugo Black summarized thusly: “A union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion.”

Justin's picture

Lets not forget Jefferson's

Lets not forget Jefferson's Bible. He took out all the voodoo magic tricks.

your momma's picture

okay so you all say that

okay so you all say that "halls has it?" but let me remind you that powell is top ranked on education level, and of course, powell beat halls 20 points in basketball, so if i may... POWELL HAS IT.

As a teenager, and a faithful church goer, I love listening to Ken Freeman preach. He has alot of good points and has helped me stay faithful to God. Are you listening to what your saying? take religion out of schools? it absolutely blows my mind at the thought of that. Ken is only trying to help save the world. And I personally think if you are against him, you're trying your best just to get attention and add one more thing to powell's "bad list." I absolutley love the community of Powell, and I think you people are just tring to cause trouble and drama.

redmondkr's picture

Separation Clause 101

The last time I looked, not verified momma, Powell was a few hundred miles east of the smack dab middle of a land that is ruled by the United States Constitution. That is until the pseudo-Christian occupant of the oval office started tinkering with it.

That document assures you that my religion will not be marketed to your kids in a school that is paid for by your tax dollars even if it were the dominant religion in Powell.

But you know what, it also assures me that your religion will not be marketed to my kids in that same school.

Now is that so difficult to understand?

Let us review:

1) My religion not pushed at your kids.

2) Your religion not pushed at my kids.


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Jeff's picture

To Repeat

I agree with Tamara on this. Let us not turn this into anything more than a discussion of our individual beliefs and opinions and not a raucous free-for-all. We all have the right to stand by and state our beliefs, which we have done. Yes, I am a Christian, and as such I believe Jesus spent more time loving people than screaming at them. Come to think of it, I do not recall reading where he took part in arguments, just discussions. That is what I choose to do as well.:o)

Average Guy's picture

Read the him going to the temple part

I do not recall reading where he took part in arguments, just discussions.

Tell that to the money changers. I guess that's how you get so many denominations - everyone has their own take on what the Bible says.

Jeff's picture

Mathew 21:12

Jesus ran the money changers out of the temple.He was not in a verbal exchange with them. :o)Okay, I'm moving on. Bye All.

Average Guy's picture

Nice verse - did you read it?

He overturned the tables

I would hate to see what discussions at your house look like.

"It is written," he said to them, " 'My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a 'den of robbers."

Like enticing people to convert with iPods, X-Boxes and Flatscreens? Oh, that's right, you weren't in your house of prayer.

It will all be better tomorrow. Everyone there will agree that you're right in regards to this subject.

From the Book of KnoxViews, 14th reply, tag line of metulj, last verse; True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

Arturo Fuente's picture

1st Amendment nonsense

THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

How in the world you geniuses came to interpret that as meaning no religious activities in any government funded property is beyond me. Congress can't tell you what religion you have to be and they can't tell you what religion NOT to be. PERIOD. All the rest of the "separation of church and state" stuff is a bunch of bull. I find it absolutely amazing that in this age of rampant sexualization of children, teen pregnancies, murder and assaults in schools and all manner of other attacks on our children (physical and moral) you people are actually COMPLAINING about someone trying to be a positive influence.

Keep on railing bitterly at organized religion while your children go to school and learn that it's ok for Johnny to have two daddies, man came from apes, there are no moral absolutes, it's ok to kill your baby as long as it hasn't been born yet and christians are bigoted, homophobic, superstitious idiots. Look around you! That way of thinking is working so well isn't it! Keep that in mind the next time some kid goes on a shooting rampage in his school or some teacher gets busted for having sex with a student. There is a reason our society is going down the moral toilet and people with attitudes like most of yours are the ones doing the flushing.

Carole Borges's picture

No look around you

With all due respect, your post certainly did not seem to relect the attitude of a spiritually advanced person of good morale character.

It is this kind of narrow vision and negative view of the world that makes me even more convinced churches tend to create too many judgemental people with moral values that are not shining examples of brotherly love or forgiveness or even sane thinking.

Are there good Christians in the world. Absolutely!

There are also many, many evil ones. Thay have and continue to prey upon our young. The priests in the Catholic Church turned out to be a lot more dangerous to kids than sex education in kindergarten, and Christian homosexuals too terrified to admit they were gay because they thought their church would reject them created way too many bad television spots this year.

The whole point is individuals are individuals. Church does not necessarily make you better. Being an Atheist does not necessarily make you better either.

I believe that trying to get to know the religious spirit within yourself is much easier when you have NOT been heavily indoctrinated into a faith based on GOOD and EVIL.

It is entirely possible to be a wonderfully spiritual person without ever having read one word of the Bible. Faith and Grace are within every person, seeds waiting to be watered by desire and need. They are things that do not come from outside, and no one needs a Bible thumping intermediary to know the divinity dwelling within.

My god, what do think? That all the bad people doing the "bad things" mentioned in your post were non-Christians?

redmondkr's picture

I can easily see why you

I can easily see why you would be amazed.


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Rachel's picture

Maybe I'm amazed at the way

Maybe I'm amazed at the way you love me all the time
Maybe I'm afraid of the way I love you
Maybe I'm amazed at the way you pulled me out of time
Hung me on a line
Maybe I'm amazed at the way I really need you

I dunno, it just popped into my head.

Arturo Fuente's picture

More Debate I Suppose

"It is this kind of narrow vision and negative view of the world that makes me even more convinced churches tend to create too many judgemental people with moral values that are not shining examples of brotherly love or forgiveness or even sane thinking."

Narrow vision? Negative? It's called being realistic. You may want to fiddle while Rome burns but others have open eyes to see the degradation that's going on every day in American society. If you call recognizing that degradation being judgemental then you're just fooling yourself. Anyway, as usual you've blown right by my point about the first amendment and simply attacked Christians and organized religion. I don't know why I keep beating my head against the brick wall of liberal thought. I must be a masochist or something.

"I believe that trying to get to know the religious spirit within yourself is much easier when you have NOT been heavily indoctrinated into a faith based on GOOD and EVIL."

So you're saying there are no moral absolutes? Everyone should just do whatever "feels" right without regard to those outdated concepts of good and evil? Great! That'll work...

"It is entirely possible to be a wonderfully spiritual person without ever having read one word of the Bible. Faith and Grace are within every person, seeds waiting to be watered by desire and need. They are things that do not come from outside, and no one needs a Bible thumping intermediary to know God."

That sounds really pretty and new-agey and I'm sure your heart swells with self-righteous pride when you say it, but "spirituality" in and of itself, without a faith-based point of reference (organized religion) is nothing but a good way to make yourself feel good about wasting time. This word "faith" gets thrown around like it's mutually exclusive to itself. How can you have faith when you have no concept of what you're supposed to have faith in? There are a heck of a lot of "spiritual" people running around who are simply doing the religious equivalent of stumbling around in the dark while making themselves believe that they're making progress.

You're right about one thing. Church does not necessarily make you better. It's also not necessarily a bad thing and there are quite a few kids in our society these days that could use more church and less militantly anti-religious parents.

"My god, what do think? That all the bad people doing the "bad things" mentioned in your post were non-Christians?"

No, not at all. There are way too many folks who call themselves Christians yet do horrible things that belie their supposed faith. That is however no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are a lot of people who have gone to years of therapy and are still maladjusted psychopaths. Does that mean therapy is a load of crap too?

Carole Borges's picture

The God behind ALL the religions is the only one true God.

If you don't believe this is true, you are not communicating with God. You are listening to and attuned to dogma. The spiritual source within us all needs no "rules". It is ALL and it is all GOOD, and it can be revealed at any time. This isomething devil obsessed people cannot understand. They need evil and the devil in order to understand God. I do not believe in the devil. I give him no power. There is evil in the world. It does not stem from the Devil. It comes from an individual's turning away from the innate goodness in us all or by warped thinking due to some unbearable unhappiness in life. There is good in this world, but it does not just stem from religious teaching. It is as prevelant and accessible as air.

If your religion makes you happy and blessed, I applaud you, but please don't try to act like you own a special discompensation because you are a Christian. The Christians are just like everyone else. Some good. Some bad. Any other belief is in my estimation delusional.

No more arguing from me. I quit. Namaste. Have a nice day.

redmondkr's picture

We can all be extremely

We can all be extremely grateful that we have a good Christian President who strives daily not only to protect and defend us from enemies foreign and domestic, but to deliver us from the mistakes committed by the Founding Fathers who produced that piece of paper.

If only he had a little more time so he could complete his work.


Visit us at

Wearybottom Associates

redmondkr's picture

Thank you, Carole

Nuff said from here too.

Visit us at

Wearybottom Associates

Rigsby Werner's picture

Send them to every school in the county

We could use a little moral authority in the public school these days and perhaps a little less law enforcment authority/resource officers at each school.

Next stop Central High, which probably should have been the first stop, but so be it.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Marty McCampbell's response

I never shared (with most people here) the letter of response I received from Deputy Law Director Marty McCampbell on this issue, and probably wouldn't have if you hadn't pulled this back up. It's as follows:

February 28, 2008

Ms. Tamara G. Sheperd (sic)
4612 Meredith Road
Knoxville, TN 37921

Dear Ms. Sheperd:

This letter is in response to your correspondence of February 4, 2008. You wrote concerning a Character Counts assembly that was held at several schools. The presenter was Ken Freeman. During at least one Character Counts assembly, you allege that Mr. Freeman encouraged students to attend an evangelical event held in the evenings at Grace Baptist Church. During at least one assembly you allege that adults were posted at the door to offer tickets to the evangelical event; these tickets were redeemable for merchandise at the evangelical event.

Pursuant to Knox County Board of Education policy IKCA "[n}o religious belief or non-belief shall be promoted by the school system or its employees, and none shall be belittled." A speaker who is invited to speak before a school assembly to present a part of curriculum, such as Character Counts, is speaking on behalf of the school system. Mr. Freeman violated Knox County Board of Education policy IKCA if he used the Character Counts assembly time to solicit students to attend an evangelical event. All speakers who are invited to speak before students must comply with all Knox County Board of Education policies, including IKCA. In the event that Mr. Freeman is invited to present another Character Counts assembly in Knox County Schools, he should be admonished to comply with IKCA as well as all other Knox County Board of Education policies.

Your letter also raised concerns about the distribution of tickets to the evangelical event. Knox County Schools allows community groups to distribute materials throught the schools. Knox County Schools allows distribution to help students find out about opportunities to participate in sports, attend camps and participate in other types of activities. Any organization wishing to either leave material at school or have it distributed to students must submit the material to the principal for approval. Material that violates Knox County Board of Education policy or is otherwise antithetical to the mission of Knox County Schools is not allowed to be distributed through the schools.

Commercial entities such as McDonalds, Mr. Gatti's, Baskin Robbins, Chik-Fil-A and Aubrey's are allowed to distribute commercial materials to students; commercial materials include coupons for free merchandisae, such as a free ice cream cone coupons for perfect attendance or coupons for a free order of fries for selling coupon books. Secular, non-profit and community groups can also submit materials they wish to distribute through schools, for example, sports leagues like AYSO and AAU basketball, and other organizations like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Red Cross and YMCA all have sought to leave borchures for students and/or have their materials included in students' weekly take home folder.

(Insert my comment here: These secular groups do not, however, pull students out of the classroom during school hours, sequester them in the auditorium, then physically thrust their materials into students' hands, such that students must audibly decline their offers in front of peers!)

If secular and commercial groups are allowed to distribute material at school, the school system can not discriminate against religious organizations that wish to distribute materials. If the schools refused to let religious groups use the schools to distribute materials in the same way it allows other groups to distribute materials, then it would demonstrate not neutrality but hostility towards religion. Similarly, if schools allow one religious sect to distribute materials, for example, Christians, the schools cannot refuse to let other religious sects, such as Hindus or Sikhs, distribute materials.

When you and I spoke after the Knox County Board of Education workshop a couple of weeks ago, I do not think that I did a very good job explaining to you why allowing religious materials to be distributed through the school was not a violation of IKCA. I have reviewed case law in an attempt to find some language that better explains the distinction. In Rusk v. Crestview Local School District, 379 F.3d 418, 422 (6th 2004) a parent sued Crestview School contending that distribution of flyers advertising religious activities violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (which is the federal appellate court for Tennessee) found that the distribution of flyers was not an endorsement of religion. The Court stated, "Schools may explain that they do not endorse speech by permitting it...Free speech, free exercise and the ban on establishment are quite compatible when the government remains neutral and educates the public about the reasons."

I hope this answers your questions. If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to call me at 865/215-2327.

Sincerely,

Martha Haren McCampbell

cc: Roy Mullins
Rex Stooksbury
Ken Dunlap

I was pleased, then, to have Marty confirm that Ken Freeman's speech *did* violate KCS policy. With the exception of that parenthetical note I inserted above, I'm also satisfied generally with Marty's explanation for why distribution of religious marketing material should not be barred in schools.

I do wish, though, that policy/law could be expanded to stipulate that the distribution method for this sort of religous material should never require students' active, audible refusal of same. I still think that a more passive distribution method (leaving it on a countertop, or even inserting it in a weekly take home folder) is advisable.

Stick a fork in me--I'm done.

Justin's picture

Good Job. Keep us posted

Good Job. Keep us posted when the Jesus folks try to make another appearance at Knox Co schools. It will be interesting to find out if the law director practices what he preaches (no pun intended) when speakers try to bribe students with merchandise.

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