Apr 25 2008
06:24 am

Who's their audience? Young people, baby boomers, or just liars?

Paul Witt's picture

All of the above. My boys

All of the above.

My boys had someone from the festival come to their school yesterday and invite them to "Xtreme Kidz LIVE" or maybe just the stunt bike part. I'm getting really sick of these church groups pitching their stuff at school.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

They were at my daughter's

They were at my daughter's school yesterday. I am not happy. Phone calls and e-mails this afternoon.

RayCapps's picture

Honest Question:

Just who is and who isn't allowed to pitch programs to our students and why or why not? I honestly don't know the rules and feel too lazy this morning to go trying to dig through Knox County Schools policy this morning to answer my own question. If someone happens to know the answer off the top of their head, it'd be appreciated.

Back in the dark ages of the late 1970's and early 1980's when I was in Junior High and High School in the Knoxville City School System, I don't remember any assemblies promoting or sharing information about much of anything. I don't remember pamphlets being handed out. I do recall one of those pamphlet cases like you see outside Pigeon Forge attractions in the guidance counselor's office at Whittles. I was still being drug off to church every Sunday by my mom back then, so I heard a lot about Y.O.K.E. and Young Life from Sunday School, and both groups met on school property after hours at that time. But I don't recall hearing or seeing anything related to either group inside Whittles or Fulton.

My personal stance is that a religious group is a NPO. They're entitled to the same rights and privileges as any other NPO, no more and no less. If Planned Parenthood, the NRA, PETA, NOW, MADD, or SADD can go into a school and hold assemblies and/or pass out literature, I don't see the grounds for banning religious groups specifically, as long they're not preaching scripture or holding prayers or such like. A church couldn't hold a revival meeting in a school assembly, but they could advertise their youth oriented programs (Y.O.K.E., Young Life, Upward) if other NPO's are allowed to do so. The establishment clause has to be weighed against the free speech clause of the same amendment. I don't see where you can discriminate against a religious organization any more than you can specifically endorse one.

In like fashion, if Plannt Parenthood, NRA, PETA, NOW, MADD, and SADD are banned from holding assemblies and passing out literature, there's no grounds for letting a religious group in. When government either lets everything in or bans everything from public property, their positions are usually pretty easy to justify. When governments start trying to let some groups in while keeping others out, things get a whole lot dicier, at least to me. Government shouldn't be in the role of promoting some forms of free speech and suppressing others.

Once again, before the "what if a wiccan group wanted to" questions start flying my way, I reiterate my own nonbelief in all things supernatural. I just don't see where my nonbelief makes believers my enemy. For that matter, I don't see activist progressives/conservatives as my enemies, though I vehemently oppose much of what both groups are trying to do. At least they care enough to decide what they believe in and to stand up for those beliefs. My enemies are the that vast majority of Americans who don't care enough to really give a rat's ass one way or the other. They might decide to show up and vote for whichever candidate struck an emotional chord or who got painted in such a ways to make them dislike him/her, but they really don't know jack about what goes on around them. Those folks aren't holding up their end of the bargain our Founding Fathers struck when they decided to try this whole representative democracy thing. Them, I have issues with.

ma am's picture

Trouble is,

I doubt there is a real test for this, Ray. Most of these other groups are probably not trying to go around parents to proselytize to children. PETA, NOW, or other organizations that most parents and administrators would not approve of have probably have not asked to enter the schools. I suspect if either of these groups did, it would be holy hell and the community would be in an uproar.

I don't see how it can be construed in any way that the kids should be "informed" of this (non)event. There is a lot of advertising in billboards, papers, and probably in their churches. If their parents were interested in them going, they probably already know about it. When the administrators let these folks in, they are saying more than "we want you to be aware of this", they are saying "we want you to go to this". And the kids who want to go, for one reason or another, have an opportunity to apply peer pressure to the kids who aren't going. These methods are exactly what the eeeevangelicals believe the bible tells them to do -- to proselytize. Kids learn this message at a very young age and are active participants. As a kid, I never went to church but my friends would always invite me to VBS and summer church camps. I went along to hang out with them, but this always resulted in emotional trauma -- should I be saved? Am I going to hell? Do I need to run around telling everyone about Jesus all the time to keep from going to hell? One time, I spent a week in Oklahoma, of all places, with a Nazarene group who wouldn't let us wear shorts! Oklahoma in the summer!! No shorts!!!

Funny how they think if they use the letters "x", "z", and the word "extreme" that kids will be interested.

RayCapps's picture

Two separate issues there:

I doubt there is a real test for this, Ray. Most of these other groups are probably not trying to go around parents to proselytize to children. PETA, NOW, or other organizations that most parents and administrators would not approve of have probably have not asked to enter the schools. I suspect if either of these groups did, it would be holy hell and the community would be in an uproar.

I'm usually the last person to advocate a government establish a policy to control free speech (as anyone who argued the art bear with me would surely attest), but it's unfathomable there wouldn't be an official policy and process regarding what organization can or cannot share literature or hold an assembly inside a school. Physical access to a school building is itself rigidly controlled (at least on paper) so there has to be something. Whatever that test is, it needs to be neutral across all types of non-profit organizations.

As for evangelicals evangelizing and evangelical children using peer pressure on their classmates, those are both fully protected by the first amendment. I don't have an issue with that. Given the store Southern Baptists, in particular, place on the "Great Commission" (Go ye therefore unto all nations, and all that), those youthful believers wouldn't be following their own faith if they didn't try to apply a little peer pressure. Confession being good for the soul as they say, I was raised a Southern Baptist, a real Sunday School, Sunday Service, Sunday Night Service, and Wednesday Night Visitation Southern Baptist.

Rachel's picture

Confession being good for

Confession being good for the soul as they say, I was raised a Southern Baptist, a real Sunday School, Sunday Service, Sunday Night Service, and Wednesday Night Visitation Southern Baptist.

Yes, but were you an RA? I was a GA.

RayCapps's picture


Not enough kids in the church I attended at that age to keep up a proper Royal Ambassador program... just a place to park us while the parents went to "business meetings."

Pam Strickland's picture

My brother was an RA and

My brother was an RA and still has his very old camping tent. And, I was a GA for a while, but i can't remember how long.

Pam Strickland

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

Rachel's picture

I was a very serious GA. I

I was a very serious GA. I even made it to "Queen". Finding my old paper crown was a source of endless amusement for one of my old room mates.

anonymous's picture

They want your kids!

Of course, it's targeting youth! They try to so hard to be "cool" that it just comes off looking lame.

I don't necessarily have a problem with this, I just wonder at the chutzpa it takes to name a festival for yourself. The Franklin Graham Festival? Sounds a little ego-centric to me, and not terribly biblical.

Philippians 2:3-4, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

momof3's picture

What's the big deal??

I think it opens a door for your children to talk to you about God and maybe it's not a bad thing to let them start understanding that Christians can have fun and we are not the enemy. What liberal ways of thinking that you are so upset by this. I didn't call the school board when my son had to watch the Al Gore garbage but found it a great opportunity to sit down and talk with him about how he needs to explore his own opinions even if I didn't agree. My goodness why do you get so upset over God? Don't tell me it's because you think they are pushing their religion on you--I put up with all the liberal stuff everyday--it's called tollerance a word in which you should be very familiar with--works both ways!!!!

Justin's picture

Comparing "Al Gore's

Comparing "Al Gore's garbage" with fundies pushing religion on children is asinine. Children should be educated, not indoctrinated. As I've said before...

"Don't Pray In Our Schools & I Won't Think In Your Church".

Rachel's picture

I think it opens a door for

I think it opens a door for your children to talk to you about God

If I recall correctly, the first amendment requires separation of church and state. Put up with my "liberal stuff" all day. I'll be happy to put with your "religious stuff" as well. Just not in public schools, on my tax $$, with implicit government approval.

Shannon's picture

Actually, it's a common

Actually, it's a common misconception that the First Amendment calls for the separation of church and state. The phrase "separation of church and state" never appears in the amendment and was originally coined in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson.

Here's the full text of the amendment: "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 peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Notice that it does not say specifically that no government organization can have anything to do with religion. It merely says that Congress can't make laws about religion or the practice thereof. In a completely literal sense, it protects the right of the people, even the Franklin Graham people, to assemble on school property and peaceably distribute pamphlets or similar.

That said, I do think it is wrong for any religious organizations to evangelize or push evangelistic programs to captive audiences like school children. However, I suppose this is governed by the rules of local school systems, not the Constitution.

Rachel's picture

NO misconception

I know what the amendment says. I was just using the commonly worded interpretation.

I disagree with your interpretation, as have many Supreme Court justices.

gonzone's picture

Exactly right

You are exactly correct Rachel and I hear Shannon's words echoed over and over. Someone's teaching a falsity, could it be a church? :-)

The amendment is a two-part law:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
The first part more or less says that government may not endorse any particular religion while the second part allows the practice of a person's particular faith without discrimination. Each part is dependent on the other for this law of liberal democracy to work properly. Using government property or monies to allow or promote Graham, one who steers very right wing (and accepts Bush's "Faith Based" money), violates the first part.

Call it what you will all detractors of this law, "evil liberals" or "godless heathens", but I call it defending my country.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
Hunter S. Thompson

R. Neal's picture

And, how quickly we forget

And, how quickly we forget (OK, maybe 300 years or so is not that quickly), that one of the the main points of the U.S. was to avoid being required to practice one particular religion or another.

Shannon's picture

I think you guys may have

I think you guys may have gotten the wrong impression. I'm well aware that the framers of the Constitution were trying, successfully, to avoid a national religion. Again, I don't think that public schools are appropriate places for church-related programs, not because of any Constitutional right to never hear about religion, but because students there are a captive audience. They are required to be there by law, and therefore should not be subjected to evangelism of any sort in that setting. However, perhaps folks similarly opposed should appeal to the local school board instead of invoking the Constitution.

The point that I was trying to make is that the First Amendment places restrictions on Congress, not the people. Its purpose is to protect the freedom to practice religion, speak one's mind, etc. from government interference. I don't like being approached by street evangelists, but they are perfectly within their rights to approach me. The First Amendment does not say that I will never have to hear anything that I find offensive. I can, however, say "No thanks" and walk away. The law protects everyone, even the people whose message we don't like, or it does not protect anyone.

The more appropriate question here, and it has been addressed in this forum before, is how presentations or visitors are allowed in Knox County public schools, and who determines whether or not they subject a captive audience of children to evangelism. Would this type of program be OK if representatives of other religions were given equal time? Would that not also violate the First Amendment as it has been interpreted by some here? These are all interesting questions, but I think they are more appropriately addressed on the local level by clarifying school board policy.

gonzone's picture

Excuse me ..

let them start understanding that Christians can have fun and we are not the enemy

Believe it or not, most "Christians" disagree with mixing state and religion.

What liberal ways of thinking that you are so upset by this.

OOOHHH!! So it's liberal to defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? OK then, you "conservative" America hater, paint me with that liberal brush. Ha!

my son had to watch the Al Gore garbage

Somehow I missed the part where the garbage was. And the part where his documentary violated the Constitution. But then, he is one of those despised "liberals" and that's reason enough I suppose to claim his work is "garbage."

My goodness why do you get so upset over God?

So Franklin Graham is your God? I'll pray for you. No, really.

Don't tell me it's because you think they are pushing their religion on you--I put up with all the liberal stuff everyday

Yeah, that "liberal stuff" is religion too!! Just ask momof3! And they're a God-less religion who are responsible for all the world's problems. Any far right thinking person knows that!

Try again. I like fried freeper.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
Hunter S. Thompson

R. Neal's picture

Michael Silence is on the

Michael Silence is on the case...


R. Neal's picture

Also, see here for previous

Also, see here for previous discussion re. school policy in a similar situation:


RayCapps's picture

Found What I Wanted... got over being lazy.

I took this from Indya Kincannon's post regarding religion in the school. It's not exactly what I was looking for.

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

Here's what I was looking for, taken from the Knox County School Policies Manual:

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. This policy shall not be construed as preventing a teacher from using instructional or
informational materials even though the materials might include reference to a brand, product or a service.
At the same time, schools shall inform and assist students in learning about programs, activities or
information which may be of help or service to them. To attempt a fair balance, the following general
guidelines shall apply:
1. Announcements over the school public address system and/or permission to post bulletins may be
approved by the principal if they concern a program or service for youth by a non-profit local agency.
2. The principal shall determine which materials may be distributed to students, except that materials
soliciting money or information may not be distributed without specific approval of the Superintendent

Looks like a pretty blanket prohibition of non-profits to post/make announcements at a school at first. I was cool with that. Then I got to that last paragraph and points 1. and 2. and saw absolute power vested in the principal of the school to decide what may or may not be distributed to students. That's not cool, not cool at all. A principal with a strong religious or anti-religious bent is free to admit literature regarding programs he/she sympatizes with and to suppress material from those he/she opposes. Same holds true for policital convictions.

There you get at the root of the issue and the core of what needs to be addressed. The School Board has vested total authority and responsibility in one man/woman to decide what groups and what materials are permitted to share information in a school. That needs to be addressed.

gonzone's picture

As for me

When it comes to so-called "evangelicals" like Franklin Graham I'm taking a wide stance and charge him with accepting government money, deception and misuse of the public trust, and misrepresenting himself as something he most certainly is not (a real "Christ-like" person).

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
Hunter S. Thompson

CBT's picture

Don't just wonder and ask,

Don't just wonder and ask, come to the Festival and decide for yourself. Sat. at 7:00 (rock music bands) and Sun. at 4:00 (Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder). It's free. You might learn something.

WhitesCreek's picture

Probably not, actually

You might learn something.

I quit going to hear Ricky Skaggs some time ago because of his yammering, simplistic religious messages between songs. Too bad, he's a great musician. Now he's just one more lollipop and lure for the sweet tooth.

j4's picture

1. This from the guy who,

1. This from the guy who, when backed into a rhetorical corner, is:

A. To busy to learn about a given subject (global warming, mountaintop removal, etc) due to work or a trip on his motorcyle.
B. You can only comprehend the if you have a beer with him.
C. Will have to read up and get back with you on a given subject. (never happens)

2. Nerd thought: There is ample documentation on the subject of Christ, Salvation, Religion in general. Going to this Grahamotainment event is, to me, much like the free 'lunch and learn' events offered by tech vendors. You get a free meal, they tell you what they want you to here -'Why yes a cisco mars box will work with all of your network devices and solve all of your problems!' - Of course in the case of Graham it is a much larger scale con.

Justin's picture

You can learn how to be a

You can learn how to be a war mongering bigot? No thanks.

cooperhawk's picture

war mongering bigot?

I take it you've been to these before? Does that part of the sermon come before or after the alter call?

Justin's picture



knewton's picture


Young people and baby boomers ARE liars.

CBT's picture

j4 - This from someone who

j4 - This from someone who posts anonymously and attacks the known messenger. This from someone who has 10 posts in a year. Since you're apparently trying to keep track, and doing a poor job I might add, you can add 'volunteers time for community events' to your list.

Great night tonight. About 14,000 in attendance, mostly teenagers to hear TobyMac. I expect the largest crowd on Sunday afternoon. Come, listen, decide for yourself.

metulj's picture

Whatever. Franklin Graham is

Whatever. Franklin Graham is anti-Semitic because he denies the Abrahamic origins of both Judaism and Islam. If Islam disappeared from the earth as the focus of fundamentalist Christian hate, Judaism would easily replace it. It has always be the root of Christo-fascism's base and their fall back position when they have no other thing to hate.

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

AC's picture

difficult dialogue

It's a shame. I think what many on this board are actually reacting against is the extraordinary hypocrisy of many of those who so loudly proclaim their Christianity yet whose actions and words are so contrary to the teachings of Christ. It's not that they are anti-religion...but rather opposed to how a religion can be subverted for some rather ugly purposes. Christ himself warned of this. And it's in full bloom in our country right now.

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