Skip to comments.Behind 'The Thaw' Christian students claim persecution in public schools
Posted on 05/12/2013 7:04:52 PM PDT by narses
COEUR d'ALENE - Gary Brown wouldn't tell The Press anything more than he told a Fox News reporter about the genesis of a video in which North Idaho school-age children say that because of their Christian beliefs, they've endured ridicule and had their rights trampled on in public schools.
The video titled "The Thaw" features kids who participate in Reach America, a Coeur d'Alene-based Christian ministry and education program run by Brown. The video has been rapidly gaining viral ground on the Internet. By Saturday afternoon, it had been viewed just shy of 84,000 times.
Brown told Fox News' Todd Starnes and The Press that the idea for the video grew out of an experience some of the children had last year, when a public school teacher asked them to write an essay titled "I Believe," but wouldn't allow them to write about God.
"It set up a conversation that the kids started having," Brown said.
Brown would not reveal the name of the public school where the essay incident occurred, or the name of the teacher, "for the sake of confidentiality of the kids." The video shows clips of the students who attend Brown's program posing questions: "Why can't I pray in school?" "Why do I have to check my religion at the door?" "Why do they teach every other theory in science except creation?"
Statements are made by the children also: "In public school, people are rude and disrespectful towards Christians," and "Bullying is common."
The kids say that sex education is "pornography," and infer that the Pledge of Allegiance isn't taking place, or when it is, students aren't participating.
The image of a cross, frozen into a melting block of ice, resting on an American flag is juxtaposed among the clips of the students. The video claims Christianity is being "frozen out" of America, that it is time for a "thaw." Brown said most of the kids who participate in his program are from Kootenai County. When asked if the children in the video had experienced bullying in area public schools because they are Christians, Brown wouldn't say.
"Bullying is in the eyes of the beholder, I guess," he said.
The Reach America youngsters attend "online academies" or are home-schooled in the mornings, he said. The organization offers free tutoring early in the day, and according to the website, teens complete their online studies or home school assignments sent by their parents, in a structured environment under the guidance of Mindy Brown, Reach America's education director.
In the afternoons, the children participate in a leadership program led by Brown, a pastor who formerly lived in Georgia. He is a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and served as the pastor of NorthStar Church in Coeur d'Alene. Prior to moving to Idaho, Brown worked on Capitol Hill, advising Congress on sexual abstinence education.
Brown is also the director of the Idaho Values Alliance, a social conservative nonprofit formerly led by Bryan Fischer. Brown took over IVA from Fischer in 2010, after Fischer left to work for the American Family Association. "Learning to lead others is a skill few Christians possess. In this age of cultural upheaval young people not only need to learn a Biblical worldview, they also need to be able to effectively defend a Biblical worldview and persuade others," states the Reach America website, letsreachamerica.org, regarding Brown's leadership program.
Many of Brown's postings on the Reach America blog, accessed through the website, are highly critical of the American public education system stating that it exposes Christian children to "dangerous ideology preached in the classroom day in and day out."
When asked if his organization encourages Christians to remove their children from public schools, Brown said: "We do, from the buildings."
Surveys show, he said, that a high percentage of children leave the church after they graduate from high school. "We're just saying there's a better way to do it," Brown said.
The advent of online schools has made it possible, Brown said, for parents to remove their children from brick and mortar schools without sacrificing public school education.
The cost of the Reach America program is $2,400 annually or $240 per month for the first youth and $1,800 annually or $180 per month for additional youth in the family. The program runs from September through June, like the public school calendar.
While Brown is encouraging Christian parents to remove their children from traditional public school systems, some of his supporters want to be involved in running brick and mortar public school districts in Kootenai County.
One of Reach America's sponsors is Full Throttle Auto Repair, which is owned by Carol Goodman, a candidate for the Post Falls school board in the May 21 election. Brent Regan, who was appointed to the Coeur d'Alene School District Board of Trustees in December and is now seeking election to the position, is also a supporter. Regan lists "Provided seed funding for Reach America" on his resume under "educational and political activities." Reach America is a leadership skills program, Regan said.
He told The Press he gave the organization some money a few years ago "to help bootstrap" a summer camp. Regan, an inventor, said he's had the kids currently participating in the Reach America program out to visit the workshop on his property, where he gave them a tour and a lecture.
When Regan was asked if he's aware of Christian children's rights being denied in the schools, Regan said he hasn't witnessed it personally.
"Other than that, it's all hearsay, and as a trustee, I have to deal in fact," Regan said.
Some educators in the Coeur d'Alene School District were surprised to hear that there are students who feel they've been harassed or ridiculed in area public schools.
Deanne Clifford, principal of Lake City High School, said she's only had one student through the years approach her about being denied the right to pray in school.
Clifford said the boy told her he'd heard that Clifford said it wasn't allowed. She told him that was untrue. "We have Wednesday morning prayer around the pole," Clifford said. "You'll get a group of 30 kids standing out there praying. I've prayed with them."
Several years ago, when her school experienced several student suicides, Clifford said praying took place every day at the school, for those who wished to.
"This goes to freedom of speech," Clifford said. "You don't lose all your rights at the schoolhouse doors." There is an active Christian club, called Revived, on the Lake City campus.
Over at Coeur d'Alene High School, Principal Warren Olson, reports there is also a prayer group that meets regularly near the school's flagpole. And, church youth group representatives from a variety of local churches are on campus regularly, signing in as "approved visitors" and joining the students for lunch in the cafeteria.
View "The Thaw" on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYaJjiHr4rs
BCE/CE - turn it back on them and read it as
“before Christian Era” and “Christian Era”
Also, instead of saying “AD”, translate it to English - “the year of our Lord”.
And for those who say there can’t be any religious references in public schools, hold them to their own stupid standards. One week of the teachers having to figure out what “1st Day, 2d Day, 3d Day, 4th Day. 5th Day, 6th Day and 7th day,” will drive them nuts. You see, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday were all named after “gods.” So were the names of the month, by the way. For the sake of consistency, they should be named, “1st month, 2d month, etc.”
Of course, that begs the question. Why does the first day of the week have to be Sunday? Also, what great event happened that split history between the so called BCE and CE?
You just can’t get around it. Christ happened.
Speaking as a rather fiery conservative evangelical Protestant, let me say what was done to you was wrong. It should not have happened.
Disagreeing with your Roman Catholic faith and arguing against what you believe is one thing. I expect that you, as a Roman Catholic, will affirm Trent and Vatican I and therefore will argue against what I believe. That's fine.
Deal with people's arguments. Don't ridicule them as people. If the goal is to win people over, ridiculing them is both wrong and worthless because it does nothing to convince them they're wrong.
That's especially important when the person with whom we're debating is a traditional Roman Catholic or an Orthodox Jew. In general, conservative evangelicals, Roman Catholics and Jews are going to agree on cultural issues and most political issues even though we disagree on some very important religious issues. We're going to worship in different places, but why make enemies for no good reason?
Conservatives need to stop the circular firing squads. Put bluntly, we need every vote if we're going to stop the liberal agenda of people who hate God and any sort of Bible-based faith.
You have no idea how much this means to me.
I agree that we should always, and indeed, at this time in history, must focus on our common values.
Thank you, again, for reaching out.
You have earned my respect and I will not forget.
“Common Era” actually.
Thank you, Pax.
For whatever it's worth, you may want to spend some time reading about the role of Abraham Kuyper, a Dutch Reformed church and political leader of the late 1800s and early 1900s who virtually singlehandedly managed to break the historic alliance between Roman Catholics and secularists in the Netherlands. That led to a social conservative alliance between evangelical Protestants and traditional Roman Catholics. Unlike most of the rest of Europe where liberals generally managed to wreck the churches and society, the Netherlands remained fairly conservative up until the Nazis basically destroyed the country during World War II.
Kuyper’s theology of church-state relations, mediated through men like Francis Schaeffer and D. James Kennedy, was a key underpinning behind the rise of the Christian conservative movement in America, and for very similar reasons. Trying to get Roman Catholics to leave the Democratic Party, which had historically been their protector in America against anti-Catholic bigotry by the older WASP establishment, required many of the same methods in America that Kuyper had used a century earlier in the Netherlands.
As you well know from firsthand experience, bitter hatred was not unusual between Protestants and Catholics until the 1960s blew things sky-high in America. If that hatred had continued, the modern pro-life movement could never have gotten off the ground. Evangelicals and Roman Catholics needed to put aside enough of their differences to cooperate on fighting abortionists who want to murder babies for profit.
Liberals like to divide and conquer. That's the way minority groups get power — they get larger groups to fight each other rather than fighting liberals, and then once the people fighting are weakened, the liberals come in and pick up the pieces. They win not because they have more adherents than conservatives or because they have better arguments, but because they know conservative Christians value absolute truth, and it's all too easy to get us fighting each other.
As a Roman Catholic, Protestant theology may not interest you very much, so I'll be brief about Kuyper’s doctrine of “sphere sovereignty.” To make a fairly complicated situation simple, Kuyper understood that conservative Protestants who have a high view of Scripture are going to demand strict standards of doctrinal agreement in ecclesiastical matters, and often have a great deal of difficulty cooperating with other evangelical denominations, let alone with socially conservative Roman Catholics, Jews, or nonbelievers. Kuyper pointed out — correctly — that the standards of I Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 for church leadership are not the standards of Romans 13 for leadership in the civil government. There are numerous cases in Scripture where God commanded obedience to civil rulers who, if they had been rulers in the church, would have and should have been removed from office based on moral and doctrinal failures.
Kuyper taught that God administers his creation through covenant heads — the fathers in families, the elders in the churches, and civil magistrates in the state. While the three spheres are related, neither the church nor the state are supreme; in fact, the family is the most “basic” unit of government, and we can know a great deal about somebody’s ability to lead the church or the state based on how he leads his home.
That framework allowed Kuyper to say that conservative Protestants could cooperate in the sphere of the state with people who we could never work with in the sphere of the church.
The bottom line is that I am quite willing to argue with a conservative Roman Catholic about doctrine. I did my senior thesis on the theology of John Henry Cardinal Newman, and I am not exactly uninformed about Roman Catholicism. Even so, I agree with staunch Calvinists like J. Gresham Machen (founder of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Westminster Seminary) that I have more in common with a conservative Roman Catholic who affirms the authority of his church's official statements of doctrine than I have in common with a liberal who doesn't believe in any sort of absolute truth at all.
As Machen said in his seminal book, “Christianity and Liberalism,” liberalism not only is contrary to the most basic principles of Christian doctrine, it is in an entirely different category of religions than Christianity.
Well that's not true. They don't teach alchemy or astrology either.
Beats "Pickers" or "Counting Cars". I remember when the History Channel used to have history on it.
I'll happy avoid offending Jewish conservatives. You may have noted that when addressing Jewish Freepers, I will routinely use constructions such as “G-d” to follow your practices and avoid needless offense. If I were writing something and my audience consisted of practicing Orthodox Jews or conservative Zionists, I might avoid date forms which are not required by my Christian beliefs and which would needlessly offend people I'm trying to reach on some shared issue — support for Israel, for example.
Liberals, however, deserve no such toleration. They hate any form of committed religious belief, no matter what it is. The existence of an absolute G-d means the liberal will face judgment for rejecting divine authority and isn't free to live his life however he wants with no consequences — and it should not surprise anyone that liberals hate those who affirm the truth of a coming judgment.
we know that, he was on about turning about it on them
HUH, Did I read and understand that right , you would not use AD or BC because you want to be PC about it to Jewish people.
I’ts been like this for how many years, , and what caledner do we use in the west again and I;ve not met one Jew yet who has been offended by using AD or BC and if they ever did then they need to get a life and understand how the calendar works.?
I frigging hate PC and those who use it especially over this
yea I told my kids that too.
I.m sick of the PC crowd, the I don’t want to offend and those who are I;m offended.
The two groups need to get a life instead of looking to change letters what has been around for thousands of years and the ones who don’t want to offend are the little spineless cowards which the left thrives off
Thank you for the information.
Am bookmarking for reading - after finals this week. Only taking five classes this semester!
(Yes, I am one of those crazy, older “non-traditional students”. :-)
I’m open to discussion based on mutual respect and reason, but with the goal of better mutual respect and understanding - not with the intent of “converting”. That, I believe, must be guided by God within the soul, and I must respect and trust that others are following God to the best of their
I don’t like to argue! :-)
I sincerely hope that we can work together to contribute to better relations between Christians.
It’s very nice meeting you and I’m looking forward to reading!
If I were invited to speak at a synagogue about why evangelical Christians need to work with Jewish people to support Israel, I'm not going to deliberately offend my hosts by using “AD” and “BC.” (Of course, if the Rabbi or synagogue lay leaders say they aren't offended, that's a whole different ball game.)
It's the same reason that, if I were invited to speak at a Roman Catholic parish about why evangelical Christians need to work with Roman Catholics to fight abortion, I'm not going to deliberately offend my hosts by talking about my objections to the Mass or to the authority of the Pope.
My experience had been that it's the liberals who scream and yell about these things, not conservative Jewish people. Most politically conservative Jewish people don't object to Christians acting like Christians in public life. If someone has a track record of not being anti-Semitic and/or supporting Israel, minor things get viewed for what they are — minor things.
But if I accept an invitation into a synagogue or into a Jewish home, I need to be respectful to my hosts and follow their expectations.
If I can't do that in good conscience, I shouldn't accept the invitation. Rudeness harms my witness.
...and what should we infer from your implication?
Irving, the school is Nimitz high school
Get out of those 5A and big 4A high schools. One thing that helped the indoctrination of public school kids was when we allowed schools to become too big.
I have no dog in the hunt anymore, as my remaining kids are in private school, but we should have more smaller schools versus bigger ones. They should cap a high school at about less than 500 kids grades 10-12. The student become manageable numbers wise and you won’t have as many that coast unnoticed (both for good and bad behavior). Not only will you see better results but you will de-fang that nasty little beast where sports become a place of worship by limiting the pool of athletes and to a finite number per school and not have these schools that raise only athletes.
we’ll agree to disagree, the way I see it.
If we’re in the west then it’s AD and BC not some PC crap however, if I go over to the middle east and east then yes I might not call it that.
It was good for hundreds of years in this country and I’m sure the founding fathers didn’t change AD and BC just because they know someone is Jewish and might think they offend him or her.
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