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Another Case of Pastors in the Lunchroom

Here’s another situation where a school allowed local ministers to go into the cafeteria at lunchtime to talk to kids. They act as lunchroom monitors, but several parents have complained to the school that the ministers are talking to the kids about religion.

The Bainbridge Island School District has launched an investigation into whether or not three local youth pastors who volunteered as cafeteria supervisors at Woodward Middle School proselytized or tried to recruit students at school.

The men have been asked not to volunteer at the school while the district investigates.

“I think it’s a very dicey situation, I think they have to be really careful what they say,” said Leslie Krantz, whose eighth-grade son attends Woodward.

Bainbridge Island Public Schools said parents brought the complaints to a district administrator last week.

The ministers, of course, say they would never proselytize in such a situation and they’re completely innocent. I guess the investigation will tell. We had a similar situation here in Michigan and it’s happened in many other places as well. Imagine the outcry if a Muslim or an atheist volunteered for such a position.

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Some of the commenters seem to think the school’s curriculum centers on “men drilling each other in the ahss” (local accents have apparently changed since I last visited the Seattle area) …

  2. frankb says

    I am sure the ministers are quite sincere when claiming they are not proselytizing. “I didn’t inhale,” or “oral sex is not sex.” But why be there if not to raise interest in their religion? Just telling the kids who you are and what you do is enough.

  3. caseloweraz says

    Marcus Ranum: Or, worse, Epicurus.

    Or worse yet, Epictetus. Look what happened to the prisoner in A Man in Full who read a book by Epictetus about Stoicism.

  4. matty1 says

    I would have assumed ahss was just the old spammers trick of misspelling words to get past filters, in this case for swears. Anyway why are they having this done by volunteers in the first place? Either the cafeteria needs to be supervised in which case there should be staff to do that or it doesn’t in which case no one is needed.

    It’s not like lunch is a voluntary activity on school grounds that external volunteers might ask to run. The students have no choice to be there any more than to be in lessons and it is no more appropriate to ask for random members of the community to supervise lunch than to ask them to teach English literature.

  5. caseloweraz says

    I expect even the Bainbridge Island School District suffers from tight budgets in these times. But still, there should be enough parents on Bainbridge Island who have the free time to serve as lunchroom monitors.

  6. howardhershey says

    Well, how many men are available to be lunch room supervisors? Most people have real jobs rather than living off ‘free will’ donations. Are they being paid for this ‘work’ by the citizens of the community or is this ‘volunteer’ work being paid by their real employers, who have an agenda different from and subversive of secular education?

  7. jnorris says

    Can you imagine how the christians would freak out if there were cafeteria supervisors telling the kids about the koran? Or, worse, Epicurus.

    A public school cafeteria is no place for an epicurean discussion.

    I would like to see local businesses allowing parents to take some time off to volunteer at the school. Parental involvement is good for the school and the parents can embarrass their middle school kids. Win-Win!

  8. says

    @matty1

    Either the cafeteria needs to be supervised in which case there should be staff to do that or it doesn’t in which case no one is needed.

    While I absolutely agree that what the school is doing is wrong, what I quoted here is a false dilemma. Those aren’t the only two choices. In the US, third (and most likely) choice is: Lunch supervision is absolutely required, but the school has a limited budget. Lunch supervision is something that can be done by volunteers rather than certified staff.

    It’s not like lunch is a voluntary activity on school grounds that external volunteers might ask to run. The students have no choice to be there any more than to be in lessons and it is no more appropriate to ask for random members of the community to supervise lunch than to ask them to teach English literature.

    Teaching English Literature requires (in most cases) a teaching certificate. Lunch supervision doesn’t.

    Over the years I’ve volunteered at my sons’ school in the library (shelving books, helping kids find them, checking books out) and computer lab (providing supervision during lunch so that the teacher got a lunch break. In fact, I was the coordinator for all of those volunteers.) I’ve also been a chaperone on many field trips — the only way for the school to maintain a reasonable adult-child ratio on trips is to have parent volunteers.

    Again, none of this should be taken as endorsing having youth pastors do the supervision, when I doubt very much that they are capable of keeping their religious mouths shut, much less wanting to do so.

  9. dingojack says

    Did the chidden cover them in yummy Carbonara sauce and eat them?
    (Oops – wrong kinda pasta)
    ;) Dingo

  10. dingojack says

    Chidden? CHIDDEN?!?
    SOMEONE MUST BE IMPEACHED FOR THAT!!!
    I meant ‘children’, of course.
    Dingo

  11. raven says

    I wouldn’t let a “youth pastor” near kids in a zillion years.

    A lot of the xian church’es child sexual abuse and rape cases involved…youth pastors.

    It probably isn’t the case that xianity causes pedophilia. It is known that pedophiles gravitate towards positions and places where there are…lots of children.

  12. caseloweraz says

    One of the youth pastors was quoted by David Ham (KIRO TV) as saying: “I don’t wanna defend myself, I want to defend my motives. It’s not about me, it’s about why I’m there. It’s not for evangelizing and it’s not for proselytizing or recruiting but it’s just there to be there,” said Smith.

    But earlier in the article Smith declared, “My purpose is to just be with these kids and make them feel valued and to help our community.”

    Smith appears confused. Either he’s just there to look after the kids during lunch period, or he’s there to “make them feel valued.” It can’t be both. (And I have a pretty good idea of what he means by “make them feel valued.”)

    These pastors get their chance at the kids on Sunday. If they can’t get the message across then, it’s too bad.

  13. says

    raven “It probably isn’t the case that xianity causes pedophilia.”
    {citation needed}

    “It is known that pedophiles gravitate towards positions and places where there are…lots of children.”
    You mean like schools?

  14. Sastra says

    Deep down the pastors know that their very presence in the lunchrooms is a form of proselytizing, whether they openly talk to the children about Jesus or not. They are 1.) showing the schoolchildren how Christianity promotes charity and volunteerism (“let your good works speak for you”) and 2.) they’re making themselves familiar and friendly figures, so that the kids may feel less uncomfortable about going to church (their church.) So they’re kidding themselves if they think this isn’t ultimately about recruiting souls for Christ and that people are so wrong to assume that.

    But passive aggressive proselytizing may fall within the legal limits.

    Part of the complaint was that students said the presence of pastors at school was “creepy.”

    Because the students can tell the difference between a random service organization putting “school lunchroom monitor” on a volunteer sign-up sheet … and a church deliberately sending its youth pastors into the school while claiming the only mission is to help out. Right. The students know they’re being set up to do or join something in a way that having a volunteer parent or member of the Kiwanis does not.

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